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Reader comment on Angeles Arrien's passage ...

Instilling Discipline and Responsibility in our Lives


On Jan 9, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

This piece ran deep. I loved the three don'ts, and worked on the last one a little more than the first two: "Don’t talk about opinions of right or wrong when action can be taken."

It brought to mind the story of a monk in India in the last century, who, upon awakening, came to the realization that there was too much disunity in Indian society, with people arguing that their spiritual sect had it right and not spending as much time on their practice. Instead of arguing or lecturing about this, the monk took an unusual step. He picked a sect other than his own, and reflected on the biggest problem faced by that sect's followers. That sect's followers would often be plagued by bandits as they embarked on a pilgrimage to their main temple. The monk established a shelter for these pilgrims, aimed at feeding and protecting them as they undertook their spiritual journey, while himself never bothering to visit the temple. After this gave a lot of value, he proceeded to establish such shelters all over India at major pilgrimage spots for different sects, and gave out the message of unity with his actions. When enjoying the fruits of peace and unity, I find myself being grateful to heroes like this, who cared not for name and fame, and indeed, there are many like this whose names we will never find out, but whose gigantic anonymous acts of kindness enrich our lives and if we are lucky, expand our own commitment to right action.

I also reflected on my training in Decision Analysis, where we emphasize action - only those debates are worth getting into that will change our action. If we know that our action will not change,  then debating the rightness of our beliefs or values is a waste of time.

Chris opened wonderfully and I'm hoping he will share it here too. What stood out for me was his coining of "valuesgraha," (commitment to values) akin to "satyagraha" (commitment to truth).

CFDad encouraged us to share our new year's resolutions. That brought another monk story to mind. Spending new year's eve with a monk, I found myself in a care center for the elderly (as the monk was taking care of someone). All around me were the really old. One was unable to eat any more and had tubes in his stomach. Another thought I was a particular person even after several clarifications. Yet another could not stop thanking us in Italian for over a half hour for a reason that was not clear to us. I had accepted that the body would have to go, but seeing that the mind also has to go is a sobering wake up call. If we are all body and mind, then there is really no hope at the end. The monk looked at me and said, "We are in queue, awaiting our privilege. We take birth, which is not necessarily painless, but the middle part is our fun time, and yet, we have an aversion to the end. How can that be? The game has to be completed." "This underscores the need to see that which is behind all this." By "that," he emphasized something beyond the body and the mind, that we all have different labels for, and yet, no label can contain it.

Later, when I asked for life advice, "As you've seen, all that we have will be taken from us for sure. Then, why not give it away in the service of others before it gets taken from us." More advice, "Focus on what is really essential." Keeps getting better.

My new year's resolution is to stop hoarding and start giving. By this, I really don't mean at a material level, but at the deepest level of the gifts that I wake up to each day. On my last day, I doubt if anything could suck more than that my gifts rotted with me and helped very few.

I loved hearing others' resolutions, on awareness, integrity, etc. Made me feel as always that we are in a circle of kindred spirits, although many of us have never met each other. :) Pancho did not share three things, so I am really looking forward to read some online sharings.

CFMom gave a rare glimpse into the incredible work that goes into making a Wednesday happen. This evening, she was at Trader Joe's, and found that they had no bread, ostensibly due to a computer failure. She had to make last minute adjustments from elsewhere to ensure that we had enough bread to eat, causing her to come in a little late. And the only concern she had was that she should enter silently so as not to disturb our meditation. As the last don't went in this passage, just by being herself, she shows us each week what it means to not debate right or wrong when there is an opportunity to serve. One can only smile in gratitude.



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