Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
The next text which will guide the Choose-day posts is "Tips for Happy Living - jIvnsUÇai[ /jiivanasuutraani", by Swami Tejomayananda (Guru-ji). Choose-days writings are here to prompt deeper thinking on the choices made on a daily basis and seek to provide prompts for raising the standard of one's thinking and living. This text composed in format of Sanskrit traditional teachings, speaks directly to this purpose. As ever, the full text may be obtained from CM Publications - or your local centre (see sidebar).
The ebb and flow of help can be hampered. How so?
sahaYySy SvIkr[e àdane vah<karae n kr[Iy>.6.
Saahaayyasya sviikarane pradaane vaahamkaaro na karaniiyaH ||6||
In accepting or giving this help, there should be no ego (or arrogance).
We'll come to the giving part shortly, but first let us look at how ego can interfere with the receiving of help.
It might be thought that it is not possible to have ego in this case; however ego is ever-present! We saw last week that we certainly ought not to become dependent upon others, seek unnecessary assistance, or make a habit of asking for help to the point where we no longer know how to help ourselves. The risk we run, like the boy who cried 'wolf', is that those who might be of help no longer believe we genuinely need them, or even think that we are seeking to cheat them of something in some way, and we are left adrift when a true need arises. We all know of someone in our circles, almost certainly, who is thought of as a 'limpet', always needy and feckless. We must always be caring, but the best thing we can do for such is to seek to empower them. If we are in anyway that person, we must find a way to come out of our habit of helplessness.
Most folk are not at that extreme however and there can always be times when a genuine need for help arises. It turns out, though, that our ego-selves are not so good at asking for the help we so much need. We see it in others but are not so good at seeing it in ourselves. Pride prevents the request for assistance. Indeed, there can be a pride from not requesting or accepting help!
This can come about because, depending which part of society we are in, we fear being put under obligation. Or it can quite simply be that we see ourselves as the ones who always do the helping, why do should we need help ourselves?
It can be small things. How many of us have driven with a friend or relative on a journey and found that we are lost. The driver is stubborn with pride and refuses to ask for directions. It may be that they fear losing 'face' in front of strangers (who could care less!). Embarrassment is a figment of ego, every bit as much as pride. If our pride is so enlarged it cannot ask straightforwardly for directions, how much harder can it be if we have serious woes? Seeking assistance in genuine circumstances is not a wrong thing. To let our ego prevent that request and result in a deepening of the situation we find ourselves in is folly indeed.
As for the helping of others, we may know someone who is all the time taking over or speaking for another out of turn… "but I was only trying to help" will be their cry! That kind of help can be interpreted as interfering. Be careful of not being branded thus! It is the ego which drives us to reach in where we may not have been invited.
Equally, when we are genuinely asked to provide assistance, we must guard against any conceit. There ought not to be any sense of superiority or judgement - a common failing with near and dear ones in particular. That "I told you so" is one of the most damning remarks possible and comes only from our ego… the original 'telling so' came from that source also. Guidance is one thing, 'telling so' quite another. Anything that we do or say which places the receiver of our 'help' in a lower place mentally or emotionally, is driven by our ego-self.
Giving out of pride, out of pity, out of expectation of gain at a later point are all ego-based. Note also, that some of the most ego-driven 'giving' comes from those in positions where giving ought to be second nature and without taint, in schools, in medical institutions, in faith structures. "See what good I do?" There are those who give out of habit and with no particular caring thought; others give out of obligation or simply because they are instructed to do so. Some give too much, some are grudging.
It is fraught with spiritual risk, this help thing! The best of help is that which is given unheralded, in humility, asked or unasked but always appropriate.