Have you ever been on a moral high horse and been kicked off it? Happened to me twice in the same day by 2 different men.
Perfectly ordinary men. A laundryman. A taxi driver.
- Scene 1: Morning door bell. Ever-smiling pleasant laundry man. Today he had a taut half smile, an apology and a regret.
He wouldn’t be around to launder my clothes for a month. Going to his village.
“My son died today morning,” he said in a dazed voice.
As I struggled with the right words of compassion and condolences, he assured me he’d send his brother across from the village to take over the laundry.
Then he went across from house to house with the same message. As he descended the stairs, the lift bell rang. Rang and rang. He stopped halfway down the stairs, came back and checked the lift door. He noticed it half ajar, he closed it shut and then continued down the stairs for his house to house personal message.
- Scene 2: I was returning home from ISKCON’s weekly Bhagavad Gita session. Out of nowhere, a car in front of us backed out. It had stopped at a right turn signal, but it abruptly changed its mind, reversed at breakneck speed and banged backwards into our taxi.
Sickening crunch as our taxi lurched to a halt. The other car was a SUV. It was bigger stronger, sturdier – it suffered no damage. It verved and zoomed off.
I saw the taxi bonnet scrunched up awkwardly. Front right bulb cracked. Engine stalled. My taxi driver did not rail at the other car, did not curse. He steered the car to a shoulder, checked under the bonnet and fiddled around with the wires.
“Freedom from material desires, Parth. In the midst of suffering, he whose mind is neither confused nor kindled is equanimous – a sthith pradnya,” I had just heard in the Gita session. Smug on my own spiritual elevation, I had heard the words without listening to them.
Now I wondered. Very much. Would I have been able to practice what was preached to me?
2 ordinary men. 2 extraordinary men.
The laundry man who demonstrated how to carry on a job responsibility in the face of crippling sorrow; and how to stay aware of somebody else’s troubles even in the wake of unbearable heartbreak. The taxi driver who showed how to be a sthith-pradnya through actions instead of words.
Both were MAGICAL gestures – more so because they were neither aimed to impress nor intended for an audience. Spontaneous gestures by 2 simple men.
I was humbled by their gestures, and elated by their gestures. The former because I realized how much room for improvement exists within me. The latter because I realized how much more is humanly possible.
Will I ever get to that spiritual level? I can but try.
Have you ever been tested? Ever been made to fight an emotion you think you have mastered?