How is it possible to feel lonely when the morning sun shines bright on lush gardens? What do we do, if we know we’re one of the lucky ones compared to most, and yet still feel some absence?
I find doing something for someone else (where both needed and welcomed or else it is not seva) helps remind me of my own presence.
This morning, a friend suggested that if he took into account the needs of others when making plans, all he would be doing is serving others, and he would never get to do what he wants. “Why would I want to do that?” he asked.
I think that’s a common enough question in this society. By uncanny coincidence, the teabag I selected right after the question was posed suggested a possible answer.
As we are taught by the stories of the monkey deity Hanuman, whose main characteristic is a longing for devotion that he demonstrates (while still being utterly himself) through service (seva) cultivating mindful relationship is the highest service to our own self and not just to those with whom we are in relationship.
To take care of our selves can be done with consideration of others without sacrificing our own needs. The answer, I think, is in how we assess and balance our own needs. For me, when I consider the impact of my planning on others with whom I am in relationship as well as my own needs, for example, of freedom, autonomy, and personal delight, I am also considering my needs for companionship, mutuality, connection, and respect. If I completely privilege the former, I may be neglecting the latter and vice versa.
When I was walking to work this morning, I saw this man stretched out on the grass in Stanton Park. It was drizzling, but pleasant. I did not feel any need for an umbrella. The man was definitely breathing, and he had put some cardboard on the ground before lying down. Had it been sunny and had he been lying on a bench or a spread out blanket instead of on wet grass, I would not have wondered at all whether he might need help.
Would he want “help” that would include waking him up? Would it serve to call emergency services when his lying out in the rain did not seem like an immediate matter of life or death, though did raise questions about whether the man was ok? If all calling did was trigger police waking him and telling him to move actually have made things better for him? Because I could not answer these questions and because he had made himself the pallet of cardboard–leading me to think he had chosen the spot rather than fell, I decided to leave him be. I cannot know whether that was the right thing to have done.
This debate in my head did raise questions about the conundrums of offering charity and service and whether and when we can ever serve selflessly, unclouded by our own preconceived notions of what is right and good.
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.