Baba says, ‘the biggest obstacle to service is the criminal eye‘. It is a great illness.
If we need an example of how a good thing goes bad due to being deceived by the eyes, we need to look no further than the epic Ramayana. Sita, the wife of Rama, is deceived by her eyes when she spots a ‘golden deer’. She is so taken in by the sight that she doesn’t once pause to question: ‘can there be a golden deer?’. We think of Ravan as the villain of the story but he started off being a great devotee of Shiva. Then….his eyes deceived him when they fell on Sita. He became a different person after that, stooping to all levels to lay claim on her. Sita is, once again, deceived when she doesn’t recognize Ravan in his disguise of a brahmin and decided to step across the line of safety to offer him alms.
The Ramayana, is a memorial of our times. It is playing out right now, all around us.
Baba sets a very clear and strict code of conduct to protect us from…well, ourselves and the vices. For half a cycle, I had forgotten who I am and fallen prey to the vices. My intellect is now learning to discern clearly again. While I am learning, I need protection to prevent me from sabotaging myself- that is why there is the code of conduct, the Shrimat.
It is good, for example, to help others but there is a right and wrong way to do it. Most of us think helping = getting entangled with situations. I see someone crying, I cry too. I think that is empathy. It is not. I can help only when I myself am stable and situated firmly on my seat of self-respect. Then, my intellect is not clogged and can make clear decisions about what needs to get done. Getting muddled with things doesn’t. I see a beggar begging and I feel pity and give him money. I think I’ve done a good deed but I have no control or idea of how he spends that money. I know that what I eat has a profound impact on how I feel. Yet, someone offers me something I shouldn’t be eating and I think: ‘what if I say no and it offends them…’ and so I eat. Let me check if I am stepping outside the code of conduct, the discipline in the name of helping or pleasing others.
I know I should be offering my expertise to help the team but then, I question: no one will know who’s idea it was. What if I did the project myself, I might get promoted! There is a new boss and I decide I should figure out how to get in his good books. I think something or someone holds the key to my destiny, that being promoted or getting that new house or being seen with so and so is the prize. So I chase after it….forgetting about the an entire new world- heaven- that God is holding in His hand. Am I chasing after a golden deer?
No matter where you look these days, there is no escaping the sensual and provocative imagery put forth in the name of entertainment – there isn’t a TV show, a movie, a magazine cover, a newspaper or even a social media outlet that does not shove these images in my face. Doesn’t mean I have to stare at it though. I might not realize it but images have a powerful impact on the mind. They drive a different quality of thought. We might justify it by saying: it’s harmless…so what if I had a few sensual, lustful thoughts about that woman or that man, it’s not like I am going to act on it! it’s not like I’m leaving home! Doesn’t matter….the damage is done. My mind is now operating at a very low level having taken a dive from it’s place of purity. Can I remember God with this state of mind? Can I remember my elevated destiny with this state of mind? Do I even remember who I am?
We read the news or hear about sexual abuse in the world and we shake our heads and think: ‘what has the world come to!, this is wrong! the perpetrators should pay the price’. etc etc. but we don’t once question: ‘did I have something to do with this?’ Turns out I did. Baba reminds me constantly, ‘your vision, your thoughts, your attitude creates the atmosphere around you’. When I allow myself to have those lustful thoughts, those wasteful thoughts that reduces another human being to an object of my lowest desire, I have just weakened the atmosphere around me. Yes, I might not perform the action but I just created the atmosphere that is impure enough, weak enough, irreligious enough, body conscious enough that someone else who was even weaker than me actually did perform the action. Those impure vibrations that hung in the air did help him do it. Should he be the only one punished?
I see another person with a different skin color, a different way of speaking, a different culture and I don’t like it. I feel threatened, I don’t like someone else who looks different sharing the space with me and so I decide they need to go. Have I closely examined any hidden prejudices or biases?
Every thought I think, every word I speak, every action I perform, my very attitude is what makes or breaks the world I live in. If I want to usher in heaven, I need to be the person that is eligible to live in it first. I am a soul- a pure, peaceful soul- a child of God. I have taken on this body made of the five elements to express myself, play my part in the eternal Drama. It is completely up to me how I use this body and it’s organs and what kind of expression I put out into the world. That, in turn, determines my destiny and the destiny of my world. Are my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my hands and legs civil? Are they helping me in my task of bringing heaven on earth? or are they deceiving me by being criminal?
On this auspicious day of Rakshabandhan, God Himself promises me His love and protection as I make a vow of purity in my thoughts, words and actions. Then, together, we create a new world.