Mirror, Mirror


On Sunday morning, I saw the image at the left.  I read the text and let it sink in.  I nodded gently and continue to scroll through my Facebook feed.  This was a lesson I learned early from Gurudev.  I wrote a little snippet about it on the day I first heard Gurudev talk about it in 2009.  He summarized his lecture with, “Your ability to live with yourself is revealed in how you live with the other.”

There are still moments in traffic when I need to be reminded of this.  I’ll yell “Well, that was stupid!” and about three seconds later a reminder that I’m reacting will float through my mind.  That will make me shake my head and start to laugh at myself.  I can then pinpoint why I was yelling, usually because I feel rushed, and then laugh a little more at myself.

Sunday, a friend—we’ll call her Eleanor—stopped by the house and shared what had happened earlier in the day.†  She had been in the bathroom and was still in a stall when two of her neighbors walked into the room.  They were talking about someone they had seen at church that day.  One of them said, “Who does Eleanor think she is dressing like that?”  Eleanor realized that she was the topic of conversation.

I could see that Eleanor felt perplexed.  She wasn’t upset by what was said but she had felt unsure about what to do next.  Her solution was to wait for them to leave without making her presence known.  I wanted to reassure her that what was said reflected more on the other women than on herself but Eleanor knew that.  I wanted to go further and explain what these women might be facing that wouldbluebuddhawisdom make them do something like this.  That stopped me in my tracks.  How could I know what was happening for either woman?  Despite what some of my students think, I am no mind reader.

I became quiet for a bit.  When I listen to others, I am often aware of what they are feeling beneath what they are saying.  I hear what they say and know what they are not saying.  The women from the bathroom were not in my house.  I could not talk to them nor see them but I had tried to figure out what had happened in their lives to make them talk about my friend behind her back.  I almost fell into the same trap that they had.

Later, I read the image above again.  I liked what it said but I also felt uncomfortable reading it.  When I looked at it again, I realized why.  “Spiritually minded” people are often accused, and many times rightly so, as being a bit self-righteous.  I know I have been that way in the past.  The meme seems enlightened but it’s really a veiled attack on others.  “I am not your problem,” it says, “you are your problem; so, deal with it.”  The reality is, “You are not my problem, I am my problem.”

Jai Bhagwan

†Names, places, times of day and other such things changed to protect the egos of all involved.

Original meme: Sources unknown, seen on Facebook
Modified image and saying created by Ramdas.  Use them to your heart’s content.