Monday, April 29, 2013

Of Cereals and Generosity

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I went for afternoon chai- my third for the day.  Just as there’s an atmosphere of unlimited peace in Madhuban, there’s unlimited chai.   I went late so I can be alone, eat in silence and also (hush tone) so I don’t have to share the cereals I brought from the Philippines. 

You see, though the university’s modern and fully equipped, it still rests on top of the mountain where there’s no huge groceries or department stores. There’s a small store inside the campus, and a village market nearby but I’m still in rural India.  There’s really no way for me to get my favorite boxed cereal so I scrimped on it and share little.       

The Test
As I was sipping my chai and munching my oh-so-precious cereal, an Indian lady sat opposite me.  Her badge shows me that she’s just visiting the campus for the day.  (Most of the students billeted in Gyansarovar are foreigners.)  I smiled to greet her but then I quickly bowed down and focused on my snack.  I didn’t want to talk or share, remember?  She spoke in Hindi, and pointed to what I am eating.  I looked up to acknowledge her but pretended not understand what she meant.  We ate in silence for a minute.  She must not like the popped rice she was given (meals & snacks are served in the university), that she again inquired where I got my snack. I dismissed her for the second time, moving my head to and fro while giving her a quizzical look as if I don’t know what she wanted.  She stopped asking but she never stopped staring at my food.

The Talking Conscience
I tried to ignore her but a voice inside says, “You’re practicing meditation so you can get in touch with your real self and your values.  Yet here you are refusing to be generous.”  I ranted like a brat, “But there’s nowhere I can get another box here!”  “True, but this is your chance to practice what you’ve been studying.”, the voice replied.  “I don’t want to give with a heavy heart”, I blurted back.  The voice was persistent, “Then don’t. Give willingly.  You see, there’s really no point studying about spirituality and meditation if you don’t live by it.”  I was stumped.
The little voice inside my head is right.  What’s the point of all the study and silence, if it doesn’t show in my dharna (practice).  The Indian lady in front of me is not the most charming of people. To be honest, I’m a little annoyed by her assertiveness.  She’s a stranger and I feel that I don’t have any obligation to her.  But I have a responsibility to be true to who I am.  I really am a generous spirit.  Holding on to my cereals disprove that.  I am a peaceful soul and my not liking her says otherwise.  I am loving and being apathetic to another kindred spirit shows that I am not.

After being jolted, I opened my bag, removed the cereal box and filled-up her small bowl.  She received it and ate away.  There was no thank you or even a smile.  It’s ok, I learned my lesson.  Thank you, Indian lady!    

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