Human beings generally like to be helpful, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in more major ways. We Indians are notorious for giving wrong directions to a lost motorist in the overriding impulse to be helpful. Or as is the case in the mountains, the villagers feel almost compelled to encourage you by telling you that the place you are wheezing your way to is just 5 minutes away, just over the next rise or around the corner. If you’re lucky and the path is not too steep, you reach there within an hour.
When I first started living in the Himalayas, I would often use the bus service to make my way around. However, there were times when the colourful local bus would not make an appearance because apparently the driver had more important things to do than transport passengers from point A to point B. Those were the times I would flag down a car (always a small one because the drivers of bigger cars apparently also had better things to do).
One fine midday, when I was rather frantically trying to get to a client in the next valley and no bus was in sight, I thankfully hopped into a car that had stopped to give me a lift. It was only when I was sitting comfortably in the empty backseat and we were on our way that the alcoholic fumes hit me from the passenger in front. A little concerned, I looked over at the driver and asked, “Coming back from a function? A marriage or had a devta (local god) come visiting?” These are some of the occasions when men start drinking from the morning till they eventually pass out or weave their inebriated way home. The driver replied that they were returning from a feast. Being of a certain mature age, I find I’m permitted to ask impertinent questions without the other person taking offense so I promptly asked the driver if he had also imbibed. The waiting client could wait, I was going to save my skin.
The amiable driver replied that he didn’t drink and I sat back to enjoy the scenery. That’s when his companion stirred himself to start a monologue. He told me about his recent retirement from a government job and how he had refused to cooperate with the arrogant sub-divisional magistrate in the last one year and how he was so glad to be out of all of it.
“Didi (sister),” he then said in a tone that was going to make an important pronouncement, “didi, I am so happy today because in all my 60 years, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to call someone my Didi.” Something that I seriously doubted because I had discovered that most men in these areas have at least a couple of ‘rakhi sisters’ that seem to enjoy almost the same status as the real sisters. But he went on, “Didi, do you know we are 5 brothers and NOT ONE of us has a sister?” He tried to twist around in his seat to ascertain whether I was truly grasping this incredible fact. Then he pulled a wad of notes from his back pocket and threw them onto the backseat with a flourish.
I usually let people in such a condition ramble on without too much interference, especially when I can’t escape it but when the retired government employee stopped the car to buy me a carbonated drink and some hard stuff for himself, I thought it was time to state how I really needed to get going or I would be late for my appointment. To which he magnanimously replied, “Didi, you take the car and carry on, we’ll catch the bus later.” Turning to his companion, the driver whose car it was, he said, “Let’s give her the car because she’s in a hurry. We’ll stop and have our drink.” To which dear friend agreed. I somehow don’t think he could have done anything else because the front seat passenger had a certain imperiousness about him that demanded agreement.
However, it was soon clear that though he sincerely wanted to help this new Didi, warning bells were ringing in some more lucid part of his brain. “Didi,” he said again, “you take the car but leave the car keys on the table with us. Yes, you do that – you take the car, your problem solved and you leave the keys with us.” After which, he commanded his friend to stop the car for the fifth time and with an apologetic backward glance at me, the driver stopped the car.
As I walked on, I reflected that day on this desire to be helpful. It had been quite presumptuous of me to try to insist that we drive on when he clearly wanted to stop for further celebrations. But the desire to be helpful had battled with the desire for more drink and come up with what he thought had been a perfect solution.
People in these parts are generally more than helpful. Perhaps it is because they haven’t lost a sense of being part of a community. Fortunately for me, it seems I’ve become a slightly strange addition to it because they all seem to have adopted me, much like a stray who’s wandered into these parts and seems set to become a resident. May all strays be just as welcome!
The thing about being helpful is that it gives as much happiness to the giver as to the recipient. There is a certain happiness that arises whenever we help out another, even in the simplest of ways and for the briefest of moments. These moments dilute the harsh critic that resides within and place us in a higher frequency that immediately transforms the next few moments, hours or day in a happier, more fulfilling way.
Pass it on – the acts of kindness and consideration. They are truly invaluable!
A healer helps others heal themselves. They don’t have magical abilities that are going to override the free will of the person seeking the healing nor do they wish to. What is honoured is the fact that everyone is on their own journey through life and consciousness. And on this journey, the free will of each person is sacrosanct.
In the early days of my healing practice, this truth would often present itself to me till I accepted it as part of my knowing. However, before I did, I was always full of optimism, which was founded on the belief that if someone had asked me for a healing, it was because they wanted to resolve the issues in their lives.
People move on from an experience when they are completely done with it, which is quite different from being stressed by it. I remember a young woman, staying at a nearby resort, who requested a healing. We spent almost the entire morning in a session because it was clear that she needed to vent about all that was troubling her, in particular her relationship with her in-laws. Then we did some healing. The next morning, I bumped into her as I had come for another healing session. With a wide smile, I asked her how she was feeling. To which, she responded, “Well, I’ve realised I’m not ready to forgive them.” She was feeling marginally better but not the relief and lightness that comes from letting go of heavy, fear-based emotions. In time and when she’s had enough of that particular experience, she may consider the broader picture and the insights that will free her from her resentment and the need to pay back. There’s nothing wrong with any of the choices she makes. It is her journey and hers alone to make. In our own unique journey, we are all having experiences that lead to our growth in the grand drama of this existence.
Was it a waste of time to offer her those insights that would help her step away from feeling like a victim of her circumstances and the people in her life, so that she could become empowered? No. Whatever was conveyed to her will leave a delicate imprint of thoughts that constitute the love-based possibilities of her life and whenever she comes to that point of growth where she is ready to move on, the seed will begin to germinate.
This is what we all do for each other. Give suggestions, convey other possibilities from our own experience that carry that ring of truth. Unsolicited advice is quite often not welcome and in those cases, it’s best to put away our well-meaning attempts to fix and repair people. But when a friend or loved one approaches you for guidance, it is a wonderful opportunity to help that person to a higher love-based possibility of that issue, to move from feeling like a victim to becoming empowered. In the highest truth, we are all One and as each of us moves into a perspective of love and light, we all benefit.
Savita’s* third daughter made the slight mistake of marrying a ‘Punjabi’. While considering matches for her beautiful sixth chick, Punjabis were definitely out of the running. There was this constant lena-dena (a usually incredibly long list of gifts for the boy’s family, extended family and even more extended aunts and uncles you never saw again) that went on in case of births, deaths and marriages. Discreet instructions were conveyed through the daughter and they hopped to it because the boy’s family was THE BOY’S family. Apart from that, Savita had no time for a son-in-law who had an endless stream of requests – “Swarna*, ek cup coffee bana de.” or “Swarna, meri pant press kar de.”
“Didi”, Savita would say with flashing eyes and no small amount of indignation, “doesn’t he have the hands and feet to make his own coffee and iron his own trousers? All my other Pahari sons-in-law cook, help out in the house and take care of such things themselves. Why can’t he do the same?”
“Not all Punjabis are like that. They are generally a hard-working people in other ways.” I would offer a tentative defence of the much-maligned community into which I was born. But Savita refused to be mollified or change her opinion about the supreme ineligibility of Punjabi men. Another daughter of hers was not going to marry a Punjabi. Period. However, that never prevented her from sending dear daughter and Punjabi son-in-law a huge carton of apples every year. Punjabis, she informed me with surprising neutrality, didn’t have apples, whatever else they might grow on their lands.
Savita is not about to upset the apple cart of old customs and conventions passed down from generation to generation, even if she’s had enough of the never-ending lena-dena. Most of us don’t buck the system either because it’s a useless endeavour, we have too many more important things to do and wasn’t life stressful enough?
Generally, we don’t buck our internal stressful system either, even if we’ve had enough of it. We usually continue with the same toxic patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviour that cause the discord between us and our spouses, children or friends, we miss opportunities due to self-sabotaging thoughts we’re hardly aware of, we continue to be our harshest critics. And things never change even though months or years pass.
The good news is that there’s always a life-affirming movement within us that will at some time or the other cause us to actively seek solutions and act on them. If we refuse to go with that flow, there’s restlessness, dissatisfaction, boredom or depression. It tells us we’re missing something, that there is more to us than we are allowing ourselves to see or be. It’s when we tap into the tremendous potential within that we start living life from the higher octave of love, rather than fear.