Towards the end of his life, spiritual teacher Krishnamurti told his disciples his big secret was that he “didn’t mind what happened.”
I surprised myself last week by noticing that his statement brought up feelings of bitterness and anger in me.
“Yeah, easy for him to say,” I snapped. “He wasn’t a parent.”
“Huh, where did that come from?” I wondered to myself.
Of course I’m not the only one who’s ever had the experience of feeling so overwhelmed by the busyness and demands of life. You know those moments—the ones between five and six p.m. when everyone’s hungry and tired and the kids are screaming and spreading your well-intentioned-carrots-with-hummus on the walls—when you think there’d be nothing better than giving it all up and moving to some (ideally comfortable) cave in a mountain, and spending your days in idyll bliss, meditating, doing yoga, walking in the hills, swimming in waterfalls..
To be honest, I know very little about Krishnamurti’s personal life. From the tidbits I’ve read, I have an assumption that for most of his adult life, he was privileged, and “spared” the burden of having to worry about mundane details such as work, bills, or deep interpersonal relationships.
Still, this doesn’t account for my bubbling resentment.
The truth is, even if someone doesn’t have the same physical demands in this lifetime, it doesn’t mean they can’t discover deep truths.
In fact, when I’m open and connected to something greater, I know that ascetics and monks, who step out of it all are, in fact, doing us all a favor. They are in a sense sacrificing their own life experiences for the sake of searching and discovering lessons, which they can then pass on to those of us who are open, or ready.
So I can then have the privilege of falling in love, raising a family and incorporating deep spiritual lessons in my everyday life.
So who’s the privileged one here? The one who gives up everything in search of a possible answer, or the one who can “have it all” and use that monk-gained knowledge if and when it pleases her?
It’s all about perspective.
So this morning, equipped with my newfound perspective, I was walking my daughter to her new school in the frosty air. Her first ever day of “normal” school was yesterday, and, in a word, she hated it.
We had three hours of her screaming last night that she was “never ever going to that stupid school ever again.”
Last night, I minded what happened. Krishnamurti would have been disappointed (or rather, he wouldn’t have cared, as he never minded what happened, right?).
This morning, something clicked. Emotions are volatile. My own mood certainly can be—it’s what I’ve been working with much of late—and my highly sensitive daughter is ever-changing. If I rely on her happiness before I can settle into my own, there’s no hope.
I’ve been going about it backwards. I mean, I haven’t intended to. But I think many parents (and non-parents—who are we kidding to think only parents attach their moods to the well-being of others?) fall in to this trap. And this morning, I caught myself doing it again.
I was waiting for her to tell me she was okay before I could feel okay in myself.
This is certainly not going to result in my feeling consistent peace. And it’s not setting a good example for her of emotional responsibility.
The secret behind what Krishnamurti says is not about us suddenly not caring about things, dear ones, or events in our lives. It’s about finding that place within us that is unshakeable. And when things on the surface feel unstable, the key is to tap into that place before reacting.
So this morning, I checked in with myself first:
“How am I? A bit nervous for her, but feeling pretty strong in myself. Enjoying the clear, frosty morning. Have some doubts about a project I’m working on, but overall excited about this new phase and all the new possibilities it brings. Feeling a sense of peace underneath all the fluttery surface stuff…”
Deep breath and connect with this peace.
And now I’m able to be with my daughter, and be present. To not transfer my own doubts onto her. I’m solid and clear in myself, and able to be with her, not impose upon her. And whether she is happy or not, her volatility won’t shake my underlying solid core (well not in this moment—it could be different when I’m tired and there’s hummus smeared on the wall). And this solid, safe, consistent holding is what she most needs from me as a mother.
Today I’m grateful to Krishnamurti for the sacrifices he made, so that I may deepen my own learnings and practice.
Today I feel connected to ascetics and monks all over the world.
And I didn’t even have to live in a cave.
Author: Stacie Whitney
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own