A Lesson in Humility


512px-Raja_Ravi_Varma,_ExpectationIt’s been a couple of months since I’ve had the chance to blog. The learning though has gone on unabated. I went to India, spent time with family, was inundated by the sights and sounds and smells and tastes, and the many temptations that lie in wait in the crowded marketplaces and the luxurious showrooms full of silks and gold.

I kept up as much as I could with the classes over zoom, although I missed a few when I was either traveling or attending events.

So many lessons to learn! It’s easy to sit at home, secluded from the world and its siren call, immune from the conflicts and chaos that come from being among lots of people and lots of situations, and feel we are indeed progressing on the spiritual path. The real test comes when we are in the thick of things, right in the middle of raw unfiltered living.

There were highs and there were lows on my journey. I cherished the moments with family, there is nothing like going back to your childhood haunts and being among old familiar faces who have known you forever. I was swept away with love and joy when I was back in Odisha with the children who have become so dear to me over the past eight years. They are graduating this year and I had a chance to say goodbye and to share what words of wisdom I could as they set out into the world.

But I also found myself faltering, losing my temper with my fellow adults. I found myself condemning, judging, being impatient and intolerant, failing to see my fellow atmas in those I encountered, unable to recognize them as teachers and guides who were helping me on my spiritual journey. I let desire for material objects tamper with my peace of mind. Not for long, but enough to cause me to lose my balance temporarily.

I tried my best not to gossip but was pulled into it time and again. I tried not to harbor resentment but found myself losing my cool very quickly. I made every effort to be patient but burst into a fit of uncontrolled anger at least twice during my trip. So much for my imagined progress! It all fell apart when I was under duress.

The Gita says as Karma Yogis, we need to stand up and fight for our own progress. If Arjuna, a prince surrounded by every temptation, in the thick of political intrigue and family drama, could maintain his composure and put his full faith in the Lord, then I with my little dramas and silly conflicts can surely rise above them and push forward. To be fair though, even Arjuna threw aside his weapons and was willing to surrender rather than fight such a difficult battle. It was only because he had the sense to choose the right charioteer that he was given the guidance and strength he needed in his darkest hour.

I’m hoping that because our little group has chosen the Gita as our guide that we too will receive the same kind of strength and wisdom to keep going and not give up, despite an occasional defeat.

Image: Raja Ravi Varma via Wikimedia Commons

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2 Responses to A Lesson in Humility

  1. Gopal Reddy says:

    Corrected wording of above comment
    An intellectual mind is bound to be impatient time to time. Do not feel bad at yourself. If the people you deal or associated with do not see your intelligence, confidence and point of view or show appreciation. Lack of rationality, hypocrisy and sheer stupidity is abound in India. Frustration is common. You have your guide in Gita. It is nice to read your shared thoughts

    • jb says:

      Thank you. But I think the point is not to judge others so quickly, not to crave appreciation, and not to be so easily frustrated. Things I have to work on. 🙂

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