Monday, September 15, 2008

Pygmalion revisited

"Eternal mind the Potter is,
And thought the eternal clay.
The hand that fashions is divine;
His works pass not away.
God could not make imperfect man,
His model Infinite, Unhallowed thought,
He could not plan—
Love's work and Love must fit." ...........Alice Dayton.

Remember the story of the sculptor Pygmalion? How he made a statue of marble so beautiful that every woman who saw it envied it? So perfect was it that he fell in love with it himself, hung it with flowers and jewels, spent day after day in rapt admiration of it, until finally the gods took pity upon him and breathed into it the breath of life.There is more than Pagan mythology to that story. There is this much truth in it—that any man or woman can set before his or her mind's eye the image of the figure one would like to be, and then breathe the breath of life into it merely by keeping that image before one’s subconscious mind as the model on which to do their daily building.

For health and strength are natural. It is ill-health and weakness that are unnatural. Your body was meant to be lithe, supple, muscular, full of red-blooded energy and vitality. A clear brain, a powerful heart, a sensuous and strong body, all these were meant for you and all these you can have if you will but know, and feel, and think aright. You are the temple of God and should not this temple be more splendid than the Temple of Solomon.

Kabir sings beautifully:
Do not go to the garden of flowers!
O Friend! go not there;
In your body is the garden of flowers.
Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the Infinite Beauty.

As the Kathoupanishad says:
"Know the Self as Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; selfish desires are the roads they travel"

Let us then desire for a strong chariot to travel this perilous road to travel towards our ultimate goal of self realization and not selfish desires.
Photograph credit: Modesty (1866) by Giosue Argenti in marble at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

Love to you all


  1. When i sit for yoga every morning
    I call upon all the good forces around me to make me a better giver for this day. But in the flow of day today activities impediment comes to us in the form of bad judgements demeaning thoughts. To reach the Pygmalion level of perfection is indeed not very easy
    You are telling health is a natural process? If so how about genes misbehaviour. May be they are the imprints of not so good thoughts from our forefathers. The imprint we shoul leave for our progenies should be an improved version

  2. Sir,
    The implication of the Pygmalion effect for leaders and managers is massive. It means that the performance of your team depends less on them than it does on you. The performance you get from people is no more or less than what you expect: which means you must always expect the best. As Goethe said, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

    There is enough experimental data to suggest that the self-fulfilling prophecy is true as in the experiment with the horse named Hans.

    Best Regards

  3. Magi, The nature vs. Nurture analysis has definitely a relevance but assigning ill health to purely genetic factors is being increasingly debated.
    There is an experiment conducted by the US Army which has concluded that even when isolated from a person the human DNA responds to emotions of the individual. This is the reason that that Vedic scriptures say that with singular devotion to the divine even one's karma can be altered.
    This is the reason that Jesus always asks before healing anyone 'Do you believe that you will be healed?'
    The power of conviction is tremendous!

  4. Venkat, thanks for relating the Pygmalion effect to leadership and management. What you have stated is very appropriate.
    For those of the readers who want to know more about the horse named Hans, please visit the following link:

  5. This statue looks so real that I feel like breathing into it and communicate my life with it. It is a marvellous piece of work. So too is the human person who is so beautiful but the way we percieve them through coloured lenses diminishes their value in our perception. Hence it is essential to look at the truth that is abiding in them and in me as one entity vitally linked.


  6. The feeling of breathing into any work of art is the creative essence that flows from the creator to that which is created. This is the reason that we say that man is made in the image of God or Primal cause.
    Thanks for your sharing

  7. “A thing of beauty is joy for ever,
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us…” - John Keats.

    Many a time, we fail to recognise beauty in and around us.


  8. Pramod, thanks for sharing the sentiments of Keat's poem 'Endymion'.