Genius and the Story of a Hen

The following phone conversation was recorded on Sep 5, 2006 around 8:30pm PST.

I asked Guruji what is the right definition of genius. My friends and I had a long debate about it in the afternoon and I thought only Guruji can resolve it. His answer was not only spot on, but also gave us a new perspective to think from.

Guruji said, “A genius is someone who has unlimited vision or imagination, who has awakened their consciousness way more than ordinary people. See, imagination is the strongest force of the mind. A genius is one who has the super combination of intellect and imagination, and the capacity to realize it.

“Another thing to consider: All scientific truths that are being discovered today, they have been around since forever. The laws of physics or the rules of mathematics or arts, they have always existed. We were not aware, so we were not able to understand them. The genius who discovered a scientific truth had a developed mind, and he became aware, or conscious, of it and was able to express it. It depends on the level of consciousness. To be stupid or a genius, it’s all in the mind. Whatever our mind conceives, that’s how we behave and express in our lives. When someone says ‘blessing from above’, it really means their own mind.”

I asked Guruji if it is the same as when we sit idly and let our minds wander.

Guruji said, “Idle imagination is not the same thing. That is building castles in the air which never materializes. The fundamental principle is that when the mind comes across a truth or a fact, like an object or a specific form or some event, which triggers some thought, that will lead to real imagination. The Yoga Darshan principle applies here, ‘what the mind attaches to, it absorbs its essence.’ It fires up your imagination, that this is possible and that is possible, and you keep following that to reach the truth. And see, only that person advances in life who can think through a problem from all angles. A man should not be like a hen. Most of them are.”

I asked, “How so, Guruji?”

Guruji then told me an amazing story how he found this wisdom. “My brother kept a poultry farm in Gwalior of White Leghorn chicken,” Guruji said. “One day a veterinarian doctor was visiting. He showed us this experiment. He put a hen on a table and drew a line in front of it with white chalk. Then he touched her head and beak to the line 3-4 times to make sure she has seen it, and then released her. He claimed that the hen will not move; she will keep seeing the chalk-line and think that she is confined in it.

“Even though it was not a wall – it was just a chalk-line and she could have easily walked over it and moved about – the hen stood there for hours. I was shocked! Isn’t that what is happening with all of us? In our society, religion? In our minds? Whatever lines we have drawn we feel confined in them. We are open on all sides but we never explore that. That’s why I say, open your mind, change your point of view and then everything will be okay. Most people live their lives like that hen; their beak has touched the line and now they can’t cross it.”

“Wow!” That’s all I could say.

Guruji continued, “It was an amazing experiment. And the hen literally stood there the entire day and didn’t move. She could have easily flown away. But she got trapped behind that line. Just like we get trapped in our mental limitations. What is bondage? Which limits our freedom to explore the great world. It’s like that story: A man called on his neighbour, ‘Did you know that Neil Armstrong went to the moon?’. The neighbour replied, ‘Even I might go somewhere if I could get a moment free from the daily grind.’”

Guruji laughed and said, “Now I am surrounded. Vakeel Sahab has come for reporting.” Vakeel Sahab is Guruji’s lawyer who would come in the morning and discuss events and plan for the day over a cup of tea. That would usually be the end of our phone conversation. I said Pranam. He said, “Khush raho.”