Ultimately we become what we practice

How attentively we listen to, how deeply we empathise with, and how truly we love and value someone is a habit that forms owing to practice

Published: 14th October 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2017 04:10 PM   |  A+A-

“I think he’s dead now. Leave him there. Let the animals have a feast.” I heard them saying. Lying there in unbearable pain, I thanked my lucky stars as I saw them leaving. Named Gomo, I belonged to the Tangifen tribe. People of my tribe were self-centred and lacked mutual trust, empathy and respect. Cases of robberies, gang rapes, mass murders and wanton killing of animals no longer shook their conscience.

Despite all this, most people looked so pious and sacred—at least, in their own eyes. Every evening, they would gather inside a cave, and dance in front of the gigantic carved face of Tangi, their tribal god, while singing His glories. It assuaged their feelings of shame, guilt and fear. Since that face of Tangi could neither notice nor challenge anything, it also gave people the liberty to nurture any kind of self-delusions of approved spiritual grandeur. The cave offered them a convenient escape from the harsh realities and the responsibilities of life. The illusory importance they had attached to Tangi and His worship had dwarfed the value of—and hijacked their attention from—all that was truly invaluable: people, animals, rivers, oceans, forests, mutual trust, and the value of values.

Those who voiced their concern about this hypocrisy were silenced, made irrelevant, or even killed. That was precisely the reason they had killed me too—well, almost. Lying there half dead, I was fast losing my consciousness. When I regained my senses, I found a group of strangers attending to my injuries. A woman among them introduced herself, “I am Koko, and all of us belong to the Renshu tribe. We found you in an unconscious state, at the foot of the hill, and brought you here.”

When I had recuperated fully, Koko adopted me as her son. As a few weeks passed, I observed that the culture of Renshus was the exact opposite of that of the Tangifens: crime was unheard of—they wouldn’t hurt even an ant; and they showed exemplary trust, empathy and respect towards each other and other sentient beings. I was curious to know their secret.

One day, when I asked Koko if Renshus, too, have something like Tangi whom they worshipped, she laughed and said, “Yes, we call Him Suru. However, instead of one, we have countless living Surus. We treat everyone whom we meet as our Suru.” “But don’t you think that there must be a Suru who created everything, and who deserves the first place in our lives?” I expressed my doubt.

“When Suru could come to exist on His own without the need of an extraneous creator, why can’t you trust the same about the creation? Renshus see no creator outside this creation. The way, during the performance, the dancer and her dance become inseparably one, the Creator and His creation are eternally and inseparably one, too.” Koko explained.

I was hesitant, but I still asked, “What if there is indeed a creator outside the creation?”
“Even if it was possible for Suru to separate Himself from His creation to meet you, what will you do with Him?” Koko winked, while trying to tie her scarf around her forehead.  

“I will perhaps begin to express my utmost love and reverence…” I mumbled while looking away at a distance when a sudden sound startled me. A branch loaded with mangoes fell from a tree with a thud, at some distance. Blindfolded Koko had just shot an arrow from her bow. When she removed the blindfold, she asked me to try the same with open eyes. “I can’t. I lack that kind of practice.” I smiled.

“If you cannot do even this without the necessary practice, how would you suddenly be able to offer the ultimate love and respect to Suru, if you aren’t practising these with fellow sentient beings, now? I am asking you this because how attentively we listen to, how deeply we empathise with, and how truly we love and value someone is a habit that forms owing to conscious or unconscious practice.” Koko explained the relevance of her question. I was speechless.

“Everything is practice, Gomo. We become not what we know, believe, intend, or worship but what we ceaselessly practice. You will treat Suru the same way you are treating your fellow sentient beings, now. Moreover, Suru will not appear before us someday, in a distant future. He appears before us as His creation, moment after moment. Who or what you are engaged with, right now, is the only Suru you will ever get to meet. So, respond to everyone and everything with the same love, respect and importance that you would feel for Suru if He were to appear in person before you.” Koko said while looking straight into my eyes.

Anil Bhatnagar is a corporate trainer, motivational speaker and the author of Reverse Your Thoughts, Reverse Your Diseases and several other books.

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