I lost my house in Fire and my aunt died inside….
August 30, 2009 § 3 Comments
My office used to be at the Himalayan Institute, located on 5th avenue and 14th Street in Manhattan, NYC. It was a great location, with a lot of traffic in the East West bookstore — not to mention a great opportunity to serve the people of the tri-state area. I believe that was the vision of my master, my teacher, to serve the sincere seekers from all walks of life. My office was at the back end of the East West bookstore in those days, before we moved upstairs on the second floor. Well, I am not bragging about my office space, but trying to entice you into a very serious story that I would like to share with you today.
Many people came in, many asked for books, tapes, and lot more. A few would stay until the bookstore was about to close, and we had to request them to move on with the rest of their day until we saw them next day. I happened to receive a lot of sincere questions that came from all walks of life. It was breath taking — very diverse in content and the range of emotions. I could not even begin to talk about them! Anything from “I and my boyfriend recently broke up. I am so sad and missing him. Can you help?” to “I have breast cancer, and I am going to die” and that left me with no sense of discrimination. I had to answer them all, since they saw me as a Spiritual Teacher. Believe me or not, somehow they thought I had all the answers. Wow! What a commitment, what a challenge! However, I tried to handle them the best that I could. Nevertheless, you are not always prepared for surprises on your way.
One day, a woman walked in crying profusely and lost, looking for someone to help her. One of the guys at the cash register, in the front part of the bookstore, told her ‘a great man’ sitting in the back office would be able to help you. Some people just know how to make your life miserable, don’t they? It was not meant to be malicious, but testing my skills.
The woman came rushing into my office, crying and dazed, and sat down even before I finished saying, “Yes?” She, as if exhaling a fire ball at me said, “My house has burned down and my aunt died inside. I have nobody. I do not know what to do. Can you please help me?” I just could not believe what I was listening to! Now, I had to think quickly and help her, but before I do that I had to stop the freight train hitting me so hard. You get the point, don’t you? She was crying and sobbing uncontrollably. “Can you help me,” She cried again.
“Wait a minute”, I injected, “where do you live right now?”
“Oh! At my mom’s,” she replied. I saw her calm down a bit.
“Wait a minute,” I exclaimed, “You just told me that you have no one!”
“No, no, I have my mother,” she was showing the signs of agitation.
“Well, you have a roof over your head, don’t you? Does, she feed you?” I had a smile on my face.
“Yes,” she says. “Why are you asking me these funny questions? You are a funny man.”
I grabbed at the opportunity. “You just told me you have nothing, no one in your life. Not only do you have someone in your life, but you have a roof over your head, and you are being nurtured by her, as well. Do you know that there are millions out there who have no roof over their heads and food? If they got to eat once, then they do not know where and when the second meal is coming from. Aren’t you in a better position?”
She was surprised, “Yes, I think you are right.”
“Do you have anyone else in your life?”
She nodded her head, “My daughter.”
“How old is she?” I continued.
“Well, she is sixteen”.
“Wow, half of the battle has been won already?”
“What?” She was confused beyond belief.
“I said, half of the battle has been won. Just think. If your daughter was four years old, you would have to take care of her. She is sixteen, not only do you not need to take care of her, on the contrary, she can take care of you.”
“You are really funny, aren’t you?” She smiled. I saw, my interrogation technique was working. I proclaimed victory!
“You see, just think how many good things you have in your life. You have your mom providing housing, food, and shelter to you — not to mention emotional support. You have a daughter, sixteen going on seventeen — what am I missing?”
“You know, you are so right. I did not think that way. Now, since I am thinking that way, I think I will be all right.”
“Oh! Great, but not so fast,” I said. “I want you to go back to your house and talk to your house.”
“What is this man thinking?” Wrinkles on her forehead were screaming at me.
“I will work hard, get a second or third job if I have to, but I will rebuild you again.”
“Why would I say that?” She was surprised and a bit doubtful of my sanity.
I said, “Why not? It is your house. Something bad has happened and you have to take ACTION to correct the course of your life, don’t you? Once you are done saying that to your house, go ahead and feed a few hungry folks in the memory of your late aunt, so she can rest in peace. Can you do that for me?” I was done!
“I will try.”
Quickly I pounced. “There is no such thing as trying. Either you do it, or you don’t. Take action now and you shall be free forever from this horrific event of your life. Why would you wait?”
“Okay, thank you so much for your help.” Those were the words that came rightfully out of her mouth. I never saw her again as long as I was working there. I hope she could take care of it. Suddenly, I saw that guy who had sent her to me, in my office, dying to know what actually happened and why this woman left smiling, with so much resolve on her face and gait. She was not together at all when she walked in. I flatly ignored him and sent him back to his station at the cash register.
Can you really learn from this real story? Leave your comments on my blog site.
Thanks for the new blog, did you write that just for me….hehe.
Our lives are filled with dramas. We all have our roles to play in all these dramas. Some roles we are born with. Some roles we acquired. How we choose to play all these roles is up to us. We can hate the roles we have or we can decide for ourselves we can do better and enjoy the roles that we have.
The main thing we have to remember is the character we play in a role changes as time moves on. But sometime we are so caught up in the roles and the drama that we are in, that we forget how to step back and see all that is around us. After all, just like a play, there are many other people in it to help and support so that the play can be successful.
So I realized if I am sincere and not caught up in all the roles, especially not intermixing all my roles. I can be happy.
And that is what I am aiming for.
Best way to deal with these roles we play, many hats that we wear, is never to forget who, in reality, we are! What do I mean by that? Just imagine an actor playing many roles over his lifetime on the stage to entertain his audiences. What if, after the show is over, only memory he retains is of that of a character that he just portrayed on stage? What happens then? What if he never remembers who, in reality, he is?
If that sounds strange to us then why are we constantly forgetting who we are? Why do we strongly identify with the roles we play? If your name is Sarah, and you are a doctor, then that is the role you play. However, how do you know for sure that is who you are? Why are you identifying so strongly with Sarah-the role you are playing-and not with who, in reality, you are? We can discuss these queries some other time. For now, this question is a good start for all of us. What do you think dear reader?
I was just rereading your comment on the blog again. You ask why we are so attached to the roles that we play. I believed we are attached to them because the roles give us recognitions or rewards. Take your example Sarah the doctor, she maybe is attached to being a doctor because….
1. for the title DOCTOR, it carries a lot of prestige.
2. for the money.
3. for healing people.
The first 2 give rewards and recognitions. The 3rd can be a selfless act. But even in a selfless act, it has its own rewards. So do we really know why she is attached to being a doctor?
Do we really know why we are attached to all the roles that we play? I believed deep down we do. But we have to be really honest with ourselves. Am I doing it because of me or because of others? And what do I get out of it?