Thursday, November 25, 2010

All stars in the same galaxy, there are no team uniforms

The last televised images I glimpsed in the US, before boarding a plane for India earlier this month, were of the World Series, final game 5.
San Francisco Giants and their fans were predictably over the moon…if they could have jumped that high, they surely would have. Unabashed joy, absolute bliss….their happiness was physical, emotional, spiritual…all consuming.

But, wait. In the same stadium, photographed by the same cameras at the same game, there were some incredibly sorrowful faces…downright despondent, dejected, disheartened, depressed…grieving the fact that the Texas Rangers had lost.

These two extremes of Up an Down were so dramatic; it was almost like a cartoon, a mocumentary explaining the two very different emotions of Joy and Sadness.

Observing the whole chaotic event live, I experienced a wave of sadness….for the Rangers and their fans. BUT NOT BECAUSE THEY LOST. I was sad BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T FEEL ANY JOY FOR THE WINNERS.

I know, I know. I am clearly not a sports fan. Maybe with this confession, I am not even going to be considered an American. Or mentally fit. It’s just that sharing someone else’s joy is one of life’s greatest gifts. Why not be happy for the Other? And just who is this Other?

Sharing books with Indian friends, I just borrowed and read The Buddha’s Sword. by Gautam Sachdeva. No accident Krishna Kumar offered me this book….in it was my very question about the Other, as if author Gautam Sachdeva and I were sitting on the plane, talking about the World Series. He writes,

“The continuous conditioning a human being receives since childhood is that life is a struggle, life means competition with the ‘other’, life means winning against the ‘other’---whether in business or in sport. Right from childhood, when we competed with our siblings for the largest piece of cake, our conditioning has been that of ‘me’ against the ‘other.’

“It is, therefore, perfectly clear that we cannot expect to get the true happiness we want unless we give up this fearful attitude towards the’other’. What precisely does this mean: give up the attitude of treating the’other’ as a potential rival, or even an enemy? How is it possible to give up this attitude that is so deep-rooted in us?

“This is where we come to a kind of dead end in our pursuit of happiness.”

During our son’s childhood, I spent plenty of time sitting in the bleachers at baseball games and standing at the side lines during soccer season. Chatting with other parents, enjoying the fresh air, I would more than once find myself cheering for “the Other Side.” What an embarrassment for my son! Oops….that goal wasn’t scored by our team…be quiet. Yet, the boys were all the same age and so excited….I secretly loved sharing their joy. They made me feel good, and pushed me along in my pursuit of happiness.

Gautam Sachdeta asks: “What would happen to me if I didn’t treat the other as a potential threat, what would protect me from him? Does it mean that I allow the other to walk all over me, to do whatever he feels like doing? What if he prevents me from getting what I want? What if he harms me in some way? Does it mean I treat him like my friend, knowing that he is not and embrace him no matter what he does? Giving up this attitude would mean that I would leave myself totally helpless and vulnerable to whatever the other does. How could anyone ever accept this? Isn’t there some solution that could lead me out of this predicament?”

The Buddha answers:

“The deeds are. But no doer of the deeds is there.”
Gautum expands: “These simple words of the Buddha, in one swift stroke, absolutely and totally eliminate all rivalry and enemy toward the other. This means our relationship with the other can be totally harmonious because we do not have to constantly fear the other harming us in any way.”

The great Indian sage, Vishuddhandand Paramahansadeva (1853-1937) says it another way: “The Supreme Power, present in every ion of the universe, is the force which motivates each and everything in the universe. It controls the movements of the sun, the moon, the satellites and stars, wind and water, nay everything. All the above follow their prescribed course of movement uninterrupted and without any confusion, dead on time. None of them dare flinch even a little bit from its ordained routine and task.

“If the jiva (human being) would only learn to surrender himself solely and completely to this Supreme Power, then he will have no need to worry about anything at all.”

No, it doesn’t mean we can’t compete and work hard to achieve in our favorite domains of sports or politics or whatever challenge throws us out of bed in the morning. What it means is that we have double the opportunities to be happy...not just celebrating what we consider our own victories, but the Others’ too! We are all acting out the loving energy of the Universe. When we see each other as all stars in the same galaxy, there are no team uniforms.

Written on the occasion of my 20th wedding anniversary….with my Other…Thurmond Knight. May we continue to celebrate all that makes us smile…individually and together.

1 comment:

  1. Alison Gopnik, UC Berkley, makes the observation the brain/mind of babies go through a process after birth of making the distinction between what is not a part of self. She farther explores the affects of otherness in that the mind natural discriminates between what is different. This is not a learned behavior.
    Additional, the paradigms of relationship are based on the self/other dynamic, which appears to be innately tied to our own divided conscience.