reflections on the ego
My own heart is often stubbornly cold and ignorant, and my own ego is often the cause and barrier to its enlightenment and indeed to the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. The Hindu scriptures are clear about the falsely proud; they inhibit all that is good on earth and as Krishna expounds in the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.16, v.4:
dambho darpo timanas ca
krodhah parusyam eva ca
ajnanam ca bhijatasya
partha sampadam asurim
'Ostentation, arrogance, false ego, anger, as also harshness and ignorance...' (aspects of my own nature that sometimes surface) '...are the endowments of those born with a demonic nature' (a horrifying thought).
When I find myself judging others, unable to forgive, cold and harsh, I find inspiration and humour when I revisit a story my Dad told me when I was an infant:
On the banks of the Sabarmati River in India, there once live a boatman whose life consisted of three main duties - ferrying people across the river in his tiny paddleboat for a small fee, feeding his family and praying to the Lord in gratitude, whenever he found the time, for the continued safety of himself, his family and his passengers. Once late in the evening, on the night before the monsoon season was due to start, he found himself ferrying a distinguished scholar across the windy Sabarmati.
'Tell me', asked the scholar after some time, 'after you've taken me to the other side, will you have a break and read some Shakespeare?'
'No, sahib', replied the boatman meekly, 'I cannot read'.
'Then you have surely wasted 25% of your life', the scholar responded with disgust.
Some minutes later, as the waves became somewhat rougher, and the boat more difficult to navigate, the scholar inquired, 'Do you know how to calculate the speed at which we are travelling?'
'No, sahib, I know only simple sums', came the shamed answer.
'You know nothing of mathematics?', thundered the scholar. 'You fool, you have misspent 50% of your life.'
In due course the wind picked up and the boat began to oscillate angrily on the waves. As it did so, the scholar shouted at his companion, 'Do you know how to predict the weather by using geographical calculus?'
'No, sahib', came the rather preoccupied answer. 'I only know about this boat and my river.'
'Then you've wasted a full 75% of your life', returned the scholar pitifully.
At that moment the boat capsized and the two men were thrown into the furious waters.
'Swim sahib, swim!', screamed the boatman to his companion.
'I can't', came the choked reply.
'Then, sahib, you have wasted 100% of your life', said the boatman to himself as he swam safely ashore.
Ego, arrogance or prejudice often prevents me and indeed members of my community and country from doing the right thing.
Kumar Raval, UK