This week, I read my yoga girls a story by Sri Swami Satchidananda in his children’s book “Enlightening Tales.” The story was about how four people walked by a man lying on the sidewalk with his eyes closed, not moving.
The first person thought, “Well he must have spent all his money at the casinos! Serves him right!” and walked away.
The second person thought, “Poor guy, he must be really sick. Better not wake him,” and walked away.
The third though “Wow! Someone had too much liquor!” and walked away, judging the man.
The last person thought “He must be in a higher state of enlightenment, above his physical consciousness. I best not disturb him,” and walked away.
The moral is that the world is our own projection. All four people saw the same man, but thought something different about him.
I like the meaning of the story, but when you’re in a big city like Atlanta, it doesn’t matter if he was an “enlightened” un-moving man, you cross that street and let him stay unmoved. It was a nice children’s story, and I liked that no one woke him up (these fictional beings have street smarts!)
The girls enjoyed the story too, but their perspective was different from mine. They all were curious as to what the man lying on the sidewalk was actually doing. “Was he actually meditating? Or did the person just think that he was?” they said. I responded with “I don’t know, I guess that is up to you.”
The girls sat for a second and thought about it. My skeptical student said “But if he was lying there, why didn’t anyone ask him what he was doing?”
She had a point. I tried to explain the moral of the story again, trying to emphasize that it was more about the people and their thoughts about the man, rather than their actions.
“But instead of judging, they could have just asked,” she said.
This conversation really resonated with me for the rest of the day. How many times have I been curious about something, but too afraid to ask? How many times did I judge someone else without asking what they were doing?
And out of sheer coincidence, later that day, I started reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, as told by Satchidananda, and the first lesson was the same one, just written in a matter-of-fact way for adults.
This made me think that I needed to re-evaluate my projection of the world. It was too much of a coincidence. What am I seeing? Am I projecting happiness? Am I making quick judgements?
How do you perceive your world?