Only when you empty yourself of your ego will you understand the essence of intelligent living!
Unknown to us we__you, me, everyone__carry a rather unnecessary sense of self-importance than we normally should or even need. Self-importance is different from self-respect or self-esteem. Self-importance means you think your Life is being controlled by you! The more self-importance you perceive of yourself, the lesser you will be closer to realizing your true Self and the angrier you will be with Life and with people around you!
Several years ago, things were going horribly wrong for me at work. My team was playing truant. People were quitting. They were sharing information with competitors. And there was a whole deal of negative energy flying around. The final nail in the coffin was when one member of my team, an office assistant, filed a police compliant against me for non-payment of a statutory due. It was an ignominious moment. We had, as a Firm, picked up that kid literally from the street. We had supported his education helping him acquire a degree in Commerce and an MBA in Marketing through distant learning programs. I was heart-broken when he did what he did. For one there was no truth in his complaint. Second, HE had done that to ME! Over a drink, I shared my grief with a very dear friend, whom I will call Guruji!
“You know how much I have done for this boy,” I lamented. And continued: “I have helped him financially when his mother was in hospital and later when she died. I have bought him clothes every quarter. I have paid for his exam fees and his tuitions. I have enrolled him to a computer training Program and helped him become tech savvy. And he still did this to me?”
Guruji smiled back at me calmly and asked, “Are you finished with your tale of woe, AVIS?”
“Are you finding something funny with my plight,” I shot back, quizzically.
“Indeed. I find it funny that you think your team is the problem. To me you are the problem!”, said Guruji, in a tone which was both peaceful and rude-sounding to me!
“What are you saying? I have been a good employer. I have led with care and compassion. I have uplifted the lot of my team. I have provided them with rewards, recognition and opportunity. And you say I am the problem?” I roared.
“Just count the number of times you have used ‘I’ in this conversation AVIS. You are so full of yourself. Empty yourself of the ‘I’ in you. Be humble and you will grow and glow!” said Guruji.
It was like a ton of bricks had fallen on me. I was devastated. But over several days and weeks of introspection and rumination I understood what Guruji meant. This old Zen story, which he sent me on the mail, further helped me.
A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Having understood the essence of and discovered the power of intelligent living, I went on to empty my cup. But the interesting thing is, when you empty it, doesn’t stay empty. You have to keep on emptying it. It is a continuous process.
Each time someone slights you, each time someone rubs you the wrong way, you mind will tell you “How dare he or she?”. Immediately, remember Guruji, remember Nan-in and empty your cup. When things are not going according to your plan, and you are getting angry, irritable, disturbed and your inner peace is destroyed, empty your cup.
The more you stay empty, the more grace it will attract. Because Life can only fill an empty cup with abundance. How can a cup that is full attract any grace or abundance?
The simplest way to live is to know that your cup must be empty and to remember that Life goes on, in spite of you and not because of you!