Now that we have three Gita classes, I’m enjoying the insights and contributions of all our members, learning what I can where I can.
Last week as we talked about how sorrow, fear and anger can drag us down and hold us back, one of our newest members said something really insightful. She argued that when an issue comes up repeatedly within one’s life, timidity, or depression, or hypersensitivity, or anger, when people remark on it, when friends advise us to work on it, when family members nag us over it, that we need to take that as a sign.
In this ongoing cycle of birth and death, she fancies, when our soul stands on the precipice, about to reenter a brand new body and re-embark on this endless journey, we ask a favor of those souls who are traveling with us.
We ask them, she imagines, to remind us at least in this life, that we need to rid ourselves of those remaining imperfections. And so, when she is confronted by the people in her life who remind her, either through word or deed, through good intentions or bad, that she needs to work harder and be better, she takes it not as an affront to her dignity, but as a message from the universe, a message from her self appointed messengers. What a wonderful way to look at criticism or conflict!
I found her words to be full of wisdom and even shared it with the other groups. I was determined to take this same approach from now on, and recognize the hidden message in every conflict. Little did I realize how quickly I would be tested. That same evening, I found myself fuming, furious over a casual remark someone made about my son. While it was said in jest, I found it festering in my heart. Try as I might to apply the verses of the Gita, to remember to destroy the ego and the attachment to me and mine, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Despite imagining that I had left behind all those petty sensitivities, my primal mother instinct rushed to the fore and I was ready to do battle to defend his reputation, which I imagined, falsely, was in grave danger.
After trying and failing to suppress my emotions, I sat down and wrote an email to the person who made the remark, questioning their need to make it, their motive in saying such things, and hotly defending my son’s principles and character. Fortunately, she didn’t take offense, though she was bewildered by my reaction, explaining how she was making an affectionate joke and laughing with him, not at him.
I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that my mental turmoil vanished very quickly once I knew what she meant. Still, the incident left me feeling rather chastened. I was clearly nowhere near as advanced as I had been hoping and the all encompassing, overwhelming, protective maternal instinct was apparently still present in full force, merely masquerading as compassionate detachment until an occasion presented itself to open its gaping maw and destroy any threat, real or perceived.
I thought about what our wise new member had said about messages and messengers. Surely, this incident was a message, and my unsuspecting friend was the messenger. I obviously need to think more clearly and keep my emotions in check when it comes to my son. Yes, he is my only child, and I went through hell and back trying to raise him and keep him safe when he was younger, but he is all grown up now, smart, successful, and fully capable of taking care of himself. The kind of blind fury and protectiveness that comes over me in these instances is neither rational, spiritual, nor healthy. It is a combination of anger, fear and sorrow that drags me into a much lower plane of consciousness.
Taking a cue from my wise group member, I am now grateful to my friend and open to the message she was carrying. This is something I definitely have to work on. Leave it to the universe to take me down a peg as I scramble willy nilly for the ultimate prize. If I intend to take on the aspect of Kali the Goddess, destroying my enemies, then I need to focus my energy on stamping out my inner demons, not those who cross my path bringing a message of growth that I am clearly in need of. “Not so fast, my friend,” comes the sharp reminder from above.” There is still a lot of work to do.”
Image: Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons