Monday, October 31, 2011

Looking For A Shovel

"Evil is not absolute, but has a frightening ephemeral existence which it will not do to ignore. But it is also futile to waste our life lamenting over it. Kṛṣṇa gives it just the status it deserves — as a pointer to the wrong road, as a warning sign, as a beacon to guide the navigator.

"Where does this evil exist? What is sin? How does one overcome sin? Does the Lord forgive us? Can we get the better of our fate? These questions have been discussed endlessly by both scholars and laymen.

"One day I was explaining to a few students the law of karma, vis-à-vis the above problem and remarked: 'If you do not want a seed you have sown to sprout, you must pull it out. For this purpose you will have to dig down to the same depth as originally, to get hold of the seed.'...

"Rajas (activity) based on tamas (stupidity) is sin or evil. In order to cancel it we should resort to rajas based on sattva (purity). The intensity and the ‘depth' should be at least the same in both cases. Should there be any difference, the latter should go deeper than the former."


I'm not a big fan of the concepts of sin and god, but for me these words still ring incredibly true. So, so often, it seems, when people do something that all know is wrong, they try to explain it away with a simple "I'm sorry," sometimes followed up with a gift. If they are lucky, though, the latter is refused, and the former is accepted with the caveat that the person proffering it acknowledge that it isn't enough.

Venkatesananda is correct (of course) — if you don't want the karmic seed to settle and take root, you have to dig down to the same depth it was planted in order to pull it out. seldom is that at the superficial "I'm sorry" level.

To be honest, I don't even know where this post came from; as far as I know I haven't done anything recently to hurt anyone and have no apologies due. Earlier in the evening I was reading an article that talked about the Indian system of dividing life into four stages: student, householder, forest dweller, and renunciant. That carried over for a while, and while eating dinner I was thinking about my apparent transition from the householder to forest dweller stage. It wasn't a transition I wanted or was ready for and when I made the move, my baggage was chocked full of hatred. I have tried for going on three years to put that bag, unopened, out in the garbage each week, but every time I go out to collect the emptied garbage cans I find that someone has set this bag back up by the garage again.

Why won't the garbagemen take this bag. Yes it is huge, yes it weighs a lot, yes it is oversized, but if i'm trying to get rid of it, isn't it someone's job to take it away. No?

And then I read these words by Venkatesananda. If you planted the seed with a shovel, don't expect to dig it out with a garden trowel, unless you are willing to work for a very, very long time and are willing to accept the tears of frustration that come with the excruciatingly slow process. A much better way to get at the seed is to go out and buy another shovel and just get the job over with. Then you can get back to your life.

My seed of anger, or seeds of anger and hatred, are buried a long way down. If you dropped a rock down that well I doubt you would ever hear the splash. Problem is, I'm smart enough to know that the tool in my hand is a garden trowel, even though I try to convince myself that it looks like a shovel. That only makes me stupid on top of everything else.

I guess this is what it means to be human. If I only knew where to buy my shovel.

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