Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yard Sale Lesson

“You don't need a new backpack." Maharha reminded me, "Gaura Narayan is moving out next year. You're not going to be camping anymore.” 
I had picked up the backpack at a yard sale a few blocks from Nilamani's home in New Jersey. (We spent last weekend at a wedding in NYC)
“OK, I'll take it back.”
On the walk back I thought about what she'd said.
Years ago we had 2 boys at home and a shortage of backpacks. The request stayed in my head and when the opportunity arose I acted on it, even though there was no longer a need for a backpack.
“How many outdated, irrelevant desires am I still carrying?” I wondered.
The empty pack weighed nothing on my shoulders.
I remember carrying 40 or 50 pound packs on week long expeditions.
It was always a relief to take off such a heavy pack.
Walking would feel like floating.
“Why burden myself any longer with unnecessary desires?”, I thought.
“This is the beginning of a new me. I release everything.”
Yeah right. If only it was that easy.
At home we have a cedar chest. Although we've washed it, aired it for weeks, it smells like mothballs. Anything we put in there smells like mothballs. Because of that, we don't keep anything in there.
Desires can be like that. No matter how hard we try to shake them, the smell remains and pollutes everything we do.
What to do with desires that serve no useful purpose?
Religions, philosophies, psychologists, counselors, deep thinkers, parents, teachers and law enforcement agencies deal with this single question.
What to do with desires that serve no useful purpose?
The answer is simple, but the application is individual and unique in all cases. Like stopping a train, momentum pushes us forward long after we apply the brakes. We may do everything correctly, but it takes time to see results. Don't give up. 
Bad habits (desires) are broken by forming good habits. 

Different Vehicle Required

"If you're traveling by car and reach the ocean, you need to change vehicles to continue the journey. A car cannot carry you over water.
At some point in study of Bhagavad Gita or other wisdom books, you have to leave reasoning behind and take a different vehicle.
Even in science we do this to reach our destination. There are so many things that are unknown about light and electricity, yet we still use them in Science."
(A software engineer's contribution to a Gita discussion a couple weeks ago.)
The Gita teaches us that we suffer due to desire and anger. By analysis we learn to detach ourselves from these emotions, thus attaining our true, happy nature. Taking God's help makes this journey much easier. This book is so accommodating that even for those who have difficulty accepting a personal God, the Gita says, “OK, try it this way....”
“Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.”
― Thomas Merton

Granny Wisdom

"There's no issue that can't be resolved."
"Do you really believe that?" I asked. I was speaking with a family friend, a grandmother. She's raised kids and faced severe challenges. I wanted to hear her 'granny wisdom'. 
Did she honestly feel there is hope for everyone?
"Yes, I thoroughly believe it." she replied.
She's hasn't led an easy life, much of it spent as a single mom.
"How? After all you've been through? I don't want to cause doubt in your mind. If I understand your conviction it might affect me."
"Inside everyone there is a place" she answered," that's not touched by darkness.You can call it God, Krishna, Common Sense, Your Inner Self, whatever you want to call it," she continued," but it's there in everyone. It responds to love."
Her conviction had the effect I was hoping for.

I'm confident you will find similar teachings in every Wisdom Book. Bhagavad Gita's conclusion advises us to fully deliberate on the lesson and then do as we choose. But like a doting father sending his child off into the world, Krishna nudges us and winks, "Follow my advice and you'll have nothing to fear." Then He pulls us close, whispering in our ear with emotion, "Hey, I really love you and am always here for you."
He's addressing that place in us that is not touched by darkness.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, text 63- 66