I live in an ashram with many people, some of whom I like a lot and a few I don’t.
Part of my sadhana is trying not to react to the many things that could set me off due to a psychological configuration with which I was born (and which I struggle with daily).
I like to toast my rice crackers; those poorly constructed almost cardboard tasting pieces that ignite quickly in a toaster unless diligently watched.
Unfortunately, my attention is almost always diverted and I am one of those most guilty for setting them afire, causing my roommates to practically propel into the kitchen searching out the miscreant who created that burnt smell engulfing their rooms.
Taking it like a woman, I have admitted to my wrongdoing, at the same time cynically wondering,
“If I were on fire, would they come running out of their rooms as quickly?”
I have anxiously defended my right to toast (and burn) my crackers, not taking seriously all that talk about the smell in their rooms. But on the road to enlightenment or expediency, I eventually learned to muster up an apology and even sound sincere; though in truth, I have doubted my sincerity because of my feelings of entitlement and rightness.
Today, something miraculous happened.
As my accusers were looking balefully in my direction, I announced that I would no longer toast my rice crackers.
Letting go of my feeling of entitlement, I would surrender to their wishes—what they would like to have asked of me. I have to admit I was proud of my “letting go” and definitely felt a shift in their feelings towards me for my willingness.
I would call it grateful.
High on the feeling of change and letting go, I have begun to ask myself: what else can I surrender that I needlessly hold onto?
Surely, surrender doesn’t stop at rice crackers.
How about my insistence that everybody put away their pots and pans after washing them? That could send me off into a veritable litany of self-righteous thoughts. Interestingly, I forget that I do not perhaps keep the rest of the kitchen (or even the bathrooms) as clean as I could. That is somebody else’s job of course.
I now ask myself: what am I willing to give up to have peace in my life? What needless or mindless attachment does my ego still identify with that keeps me from having harmony and peace in my life?
I specialize in intuitive counseling and some of the women with whom I deal are asked by their partners to give up a part of themselves.
I always say to them,
“Is this a deal that will compromise your integrity or sense of self; or is it a simple request that will bring more harmony into your relationship?”
Like the rice cracker, it’s very interesting to see how people will get all bent out of shape because of a request to put the toothpaste cap on or lift their clothes off the floor.
As with everything else in our lives, we are called upon to discriminate and make choices.
When you live a spiritual life, what seems to be a small choice can explode into a larger event. There is a tight-rope in life, which we attempt to walk carefully upon, and if we take a wrong step, it can have awful consequences.
When walking the tight-rope of relationships, it is good to carry the symbolic piece of wood or ballast that we can use to balance ourselves.
It’s up to each one of us to find that piece (peace) that we can use in difficult situations.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman