Let me start with the story of Svetaketu. He went to a gurukul (Vedic school system) and after finishing his studies, returned home. His father though was not happy with his arrogance after his return and ordered him to go back and learn what ‘could not be learnt’. Svetaketu surprised, decided to go back and learn what his father asked for.
He explained the situation to his guru upon his return and requested to be taught what ‘cannot be learned’. His Guru replied, ‘you didn’t ask me to, so I did not teach it; since you are asking for it now, I will teach you’. See those cows there, he said pointing to a herd of about 10-15 cows and bulls, go to the forest and come back when this herd increases to 1000.
Svetaketu went to the forest with the flock and waited for it to grow. However, the solitary stay in the forest changed him completely. There was no one to converse there or impress with his knowledge and he remained as silent as the animals he was with. Time passed by and the herd grew to 1000. He however, forgot about it and never thought of returning. However, the cows began feeling uneasy and asked him to return.
He grabbed his guru’s feet after coming back who said that he has now completed his learning.
The greatest wisdom is to be humble and never show pride of any of your endowments or accomplishments. The stay at the forest allowed Svetaketu to self-reflect and gain wisdom. He understood the importance of looking within to better understand outside.
Many a times, we also don’t realize what is keeping us from achieving our potential. It can be a harmful personality trait like, lacking self-belief, bragging too much, putting self before others or not giving an opportunity to speak to others while trying to hog the limelight.
All these traits can be repulsive to others and we realize it when we find ourselves engaged in superficial relationships without any deeper connection and struggling to hold onto people in our lives. They quickly turn into patterns and we even forget to notice how our habits are fueling them continuously. What began as a one off action of interrupting others slowly turns into ignoring other’s views. What starts off as a sharing of happiness turns into arrogant boastfulness. What begins as stating your view turns into a long soliloquy with no regard for others thoughts. The patterns become so intimately ingrained that we effortlessly let them control us without even realizing the harm the do to us.
I request you to take a few minutes, self-analyze, and find out if there is any such negative trait, which may be influencing you unconsciously. You can sit or lie down at a comfortable place and let your mind give you the answers.
My own experience of attempting this activity helped me explore how awkward I used to behave in certain situations, which demanded a much deeper patience and calm. I found out I was being very forceful while expressing my views even in discussions, requiring everyone to contribute. I noticed breathing rapidly and feeling incompetent when my views were not given as much importance as I deemed they deserved. This led to lot of concerns and I realized I need to something about it. I started small and focused on breathing normally first and later tried using the basic principle of mindfulness and began observing my own behaviour in group situations. This helped me a lot, though I am still a work in progress.
So, what is that one thing you would like to notice and improve about yourself? Please do share.