Om Swami, in one of his videos gives an example of what he considers to be a superlative act of compassion. A thief comes begging to a saint saying “please save me”. “They are going to kill me for stealing and I am worried for my wife and children”! The saint, out of sheer compassion, takes the blame of the robbery onto himself and gives up his life so that the thief and his family can be spared. Swamiji narrates this story in his beautiful style and then makes some very powerful statements explaining why this is an extreme example of compassion. In hindi, Swamiji says – “kya pakad ke chal rahe ho? Yeh shareer? Chalo – woh bhi de diya.” (What are you clinging onto? This body? Here! Out of my compassion for you, I’m giving it up right now!)
From a personal perspective, giving up your life for another person, that too for a thief is way too extreme an act of compassion, however the question – “kya pakad ke chal rahe ho?” (What are you clinging onto?) really struck a chord with me. When you actually start pondering over it, it is an extremely powerful question. In any argument, in any impasse, in any difficult situation, at any time when you feel stuck – what are you clinging onto? What is it that is preventing you from seeing the other person’s perspective, from letting go of that grudge, from letting go of what you think is “MINE!”, from thinking of an alternative solution, from accepting the person and situation as is? What prevents you?
There is something that we are clinging onto and that is what prevents us from opening up to the person or the situation. One part of what we cling onto is our material possessions – what we think we have rightfully earned and therefore is an extension of us (wealth, car, house etc.). The second and more deep rooted part that we cling onto is our idea of who we are (“How can I travel by third class?” or “How can I take advise from a junior or from my wife or from someone who does not fit my idea of ‘cool’?”). While one can possibly contemplate not clinging onto our material possessions, the clinging onto the idea of who we are reminds me of the fevicol ad “yeh fevicol ka mazboot jod hain, tootega nahi!” 🙂
And this mazboot jod of clinging onto the idea of who we are is the most natural trait that exists in every being. It is not a “flaw” but a “feature” that nature has put in by design. Unless the mother is completely established in herself as a mother, she will not put up with extreme difficulties to ensure survival of her child. And only when she strongly identifies with being the mother of her child will she experience the immense joy and fulfilment that comes from raising her baby, only when an engineer thinks of himself to be an engineer, will he be motivated to build bridges and only when a leader takes himself seriously will he be inspired to take charge and inspire others. So let’s not judge ourselves negatively for being unable to let go of our identities, that fevicol bond has been created for a reason. And we will explore that another time.
For now, let’s simply try to see if we are even aware of what we cling onto. Think of any argument you had or any situation where you feel stuck and ask yourself this question – What am I clinging onto? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section.
Author: Shibani Thakur, Founder, Y2L Meditation & Relaxation Studio & Co-Founder, Travel Light
Travel Light is a self awareness program that uses a combination of pragmatic learning, mind therapy and meditation practices to enable identification of limiting patterns from the past and help you break those patterns for good.
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