As a Jnani and aspiring Jnanayogi, a significant part of my work is to recognize my ego in all its subtle forms. There are days when I’m on top of my game and not a thing slips by. And, as could be expected, there are days when I fall flat on my face, stand up, and fall flat on my face again. As frustrating as that can be, and as damaging as that can be to one’s confidence in his sadhana, in times like those I remind myself of the Bhagavad Gita’s message that no effort is wasted and no worship unaccepted.
Recently (Monday night) I really struggled.
You see, my Beloved takes FOREVER to do his laundry. Always. Without exception. I scramble to get all my clothing, our bed clothes, and towels all washed and dried before he attempts to start on his own because I know that once he starts it’ll take him – no joke – the better part of three whole days to complete the task. This is in part due to the enormous wardrobe he maintains and in part due to his inclination to sit in front of the television and lose track of time. Knowing this, and respecting it, I requested that my current favorite hoodie be tossed into the dryer with some of his wet clothing to kind of refresh it until I’ll once again have access to our machines. He obliged. Here’s where the drama enters.
I wrongly assumed that, once that load was done in the dryer, he would kindly hand my hoodie for me. A while later, he was in our laundry room switching loads and was in the process of pulling that same load from the dryer when I entered to tell him something funny I’d just seen on television. It was then that I noticed that not only had he neglected to kindly hang my hoodie for me, but the garment was piled upon itself on top of the dryer in front of him and becoming increasingly crumpled by the folded shirts he was beginning to pile on top of it.
And now Josh’s feelings are hurt.
I made a comment that he should have hanged it. I hanged it. And then I threw a small tantrum as I cut my story off, hastily collected my things and went upstairs – making sure he was aware of my displeasure. This is where it all gets somewhat messy. I always treat his things with high respect and take care so as not to damage them or do anything with/to them that he wouldn’t do or wouldn’t want done. This is the Golden Rule, right? It’s also being a good Hindu. You see, in the same way that nature should be greatly respected because it belongs to The One and indirectly represents that One, the items my Beloved owns and cares about are similarly (somewhat) representations of him. It’s like taking care of books you own because you love goddess Saraswati – books bring you knowledge, and in that way bring you to Her (or bring Her to you). To deface books, is to slap Her in the face. And so, because I would never slap my Beloved in his face, I care for his things without being asked.
So why doesn’t he automatically show the same care for my things – especially when he knows I’ll bitch big time when he doesn’t? Earlier that same night I’d discovered that when he placed baskets of dirty clothes on top of the washer, he’s pushed by gym bag off to a hard-to-access place behind the machine and left it there. The bag is now damaged, actually.
Part of me is hurt that he doesn’t automatically show me the same care that I show him with these things. A part of me expects to receive the same considerate care that I afford him – not because I hope for it in return for what I’ve given (that would obviously be attachment to karmaphala), but because that care should (in theory) be coming from him to begin with – at the same time I’m giving to him. Does that make sense? Whether you think that’s still karmaphala or not, that expectation or hope, rather, is still not an expression of love. The cynical part of me wonders if he’s doing that on purpose because I’d done something else to piss him off – pay back, right? I doubt that because he’s not a malicious person, generally.
Whenever this situation arises (and it has more than once over the last 9+ years we’ve been together), I experience LOTS of thoughts and emotions that would generally be considered unpleasant. Mind you, I don’t care about the hoodie, or the gym bag. I care that he cares – or that he doesn’t. Interestingly, as the years have passed I’ve developed the ability to realize I’m aware enough to be able to recognize these thoughts and emotions as “not me,” but I still feel less in control of them than I should be. I mean to say that I’m aware that I’m aware. This happens when I sleep, too, but that’s a whole other ball of yarn. If I were as much in control as I think I should be, if I were as aware as I think I should be, I would be able to circumvent this drama altogether. Oh the tumultuous bliss of being human!
It’s a strange experience to recognize this internal cyclone as something not yourself. Strange, but good. It gives that whirling energy an identity of its own – which I suppose it already had. After all, that energetic identity being mistaken for my real identity is part of the illusion/delusion of Maya.
So, what does all this mean? I’m not sure I know exactly. I feel like it means that I’m progressing, despite my occasional tantrums. I think it also means that these tantrums bring additional opportunity to be the witness – I’m still unable to manage the energy that manifests the tantrum to begin with, but I’m increasingly able to “disconnect” from that energy instead of being caught up or lost in it, as many people are. Hopefully, this means that I’m progressing toward increased mastery of those emotions, even if only indirectly. I’ll focus on what I perceive to be the silver lining with this, which is that a person less influenced by his emotions than he once was, is that much less reactive and proportionately more on top of his karmas in that context.
It’s awfully deep for a fit thrown over a hoodie, I’ll admit. But it’s increased wisdom, no less, and I’ll take that where I can get it.
Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha