One of the conversations that took center stage in GD’s recent workshop revolved around the posture and hierarchy in relationships. About how we can have conflicting needs and motivations wherein it becomes difficult to give or receive with ease. Whether it is time, love, attention, knowledge, healing or guidance – we seem to have a need for both, to freely give and receive. Yet, our ego can come in the way. By either withholding or being too pushy, or too humiliated or too needy. The subject raises questions regarding what is the right posture, isn’t there always a simultaneity in the giving and receiving, and so on. This becomes true of almost every relationship, whether it be parent-child, husband-wife, teacher-student, guru-disciple, etc… Apparently, we have grown unaccustomed to effortless relating.
It need not be so complex. When we get our selves out of the way, what follows in any moment, is the natural flow between different manifestations of the same consciousness. It does not make one person lesser, nor the other greater. It simply happens.
I feel that mutual respect, concern and kindness arise naturally when we are present to the moment. Then, what needs to be done, gets done. There is no effort in the giving, nor any stickiness in the receiving. Perhaps this will be made clear by a recent example of flow:
My father is over 84 years of age. Despite many health and life challenges, his alert mind, active body, intelligence and diverse experience make him a living inspiration to all those who know him. He is fiercely independent, and the family has learnt not to offer too much support. We make sure he is comfortable, but are careful not to offer a hand or ask him to be cautious in his movements, because he has been quick to anger at such suggestions. Yesterday, he went to MIT, Pune, to attend the first day of a two day CPE program (He makes it a point to meet the requirements that keep his CA Certificate of Practice valid). On arriving at the auditorium, he was disappointed to see a long, steep flight of steps to the hall. Though he keeps a walking stick with him, climbing without support is naturally a matter of concern at his age. A young staff member from the Institute, Ashok Phale, was standing at the bottom of the steps. He inquired with Ashok if there was a lift or some other way to the auditorium. Ashok replied saying no. Further, the meal breaks and the restroom visits would all require climbing up and down steps. My father considered this and thinking if he had a mishap, it would be a problem for everyone, so he said it would be prudent for him to leave.
Now this is when something wonderful happened. Going beyond the call of his duty, Ashok responded by saying that he would escort him up the stairs, and take care of everything, not to worry. My father, uncharacteristically, reconsidered and agreeably accepted the proffered hand. Ashok not only helped him reach his seat, but brought him tea in the break, escorted him to the buffet lunch, arranged a special chair for him, served him food, and so on… At the end of the day, he told him he would be waiting for him in the morning today, to repeat the same routine. My father came home deeply touched by this stranger’s kindness. He went back with a small token gift of appreciation today, because he wanted to communicate how touched he was. Ashok was very much there, waiting as promised, and received the thanks respectfully.
I found a lot to ruminate over in this simple incidence. I greatly admire my father, but his aggressive refusal of help from us has sometimes been impractical. I understand that it would be difficult for someone who has been so independent to accept support without reluctance. At the same time, we live in a world, where instead of courtesy and thoughtfulness being the norm, behavior such as demonstrated by Ashok, is remarkable, heartening and restores faith in human beings.
If my father had let his personality stay in the way, he would have had to either return disappointed, or refused the help and risked some mishap, or accepted the help, but been angry and resentful about this apparent ‘dependence’. Many senior citizens deal with this everyday. And they often end up bitter, lonely or house bound because of this. If Ashok had done what most of us tend to do today – and minded his own business, sticking to his job, he would have not have received the tremendous appreciation and warmth that he did from my father. I imagine, it is acts like these that can elevate a mundane job to a level of grace.
Neither of the two actually did anything unnatural.
The sad part is that this ordinariness is exactly what we have come to forget in today’s society.
Can we get our history, conditioning, expectations and personalities out of the way? So that we can express our self naturally and let flow accomplish whatever is needed in the moment? So that every meeting is not a navigation of complex give and takes or hierarchical positioning, but simply essence meeting itself?
Would you be willing to allow grace to flow naturally in your interactions?
Image Courtesy Creative Commons: Flickr – Hamed