During the ten days Vipassana Retreat, Goenka Ji tells the story of a little kid and his favourite dish. His mom makes his favourite dish – rice pudding and to add flavour she adds cardamom to it. The little kid sees the cardamom seeds, thinks they are small stones and refused to eat the dish. Mom tries to convince him that it will taste good, but the kid refuses. Mom gives in and takes the seeds away, and the kid happily eats the dish.
If his mom had not taken away the seeds, the kid would have thrown away the entire pudding which he loved. How many of us throw away the whole dish because of stones – which in reality add flavour?
As some of you may recall, I was a big fan of Bikram yoga (see my previous blog). Recently I happened to watch the documentary on Netflix about Bikram himself – titled, ‘Yoga, Guru, Predator.’ Even when I was taking the class, there was talk about how Bikram owns a fleet of Rolls Royce et al. It did not fit in the usual stereotype of a yoga teacher. I remember thinking that regardless of who Bikram is or what he does, the yoga itself – 26 postures with two breathing techniques is fantastic. It worked – for me. I left the classroom feeling refreshed and energized. I looked forward to going to yoga in the hot room. If I had not practised yoga but heard about Bikram and decided not to pursue it – I would be missing out on a beautiful experience. Akin to the little kid throwing away the entire dish because of perceived black stones.
If you do watch the documentary – one of the students says that the best advice she got was, ‘Separate the man from the teacher.’ Pretty logical, if you think about it. We all have ready-made ideas of how a Yoga teacher or a Guru or a Manager should be like. And if they do not fit the mould, we tend to discount what they see. But, is it possible that some things they say might be exactly we need even if it is coming from a person who does not fit our idea of ‘The Person.’? When the student is ready, the teacher appears. The teacher might not be what we expected, but the teaching is exactly what we need. If we are not careful enough, we might discard what we need because it is not offered it to in a medium that we had expected.
If you read about the qualities of Hitler – he was a teetotaller, vegetarian, a strict disciplinarian. – All good qualities, right? I am not suggesting that we all start doing what he is doing – the point I am trying to make is we have to look for what is useful for us and take it and have the wisdom to the leave the rest. Yes, it is wisdom.
What gems are you missing because you are discarding the entire dish?