A monk was living at the base of the Himalayas.
He had a small hut, at the top of a crest, about five miles outside a nearby village.
He was very content with his holy life, full of peace and practice.
In the nearby village, a young woman lived with her family.
The young woman found herself pregnant.
Her parents, furious, about her unwed status, demanded to know who the father was.
The young girl trying to protect her boyfriend said, "The monk on the hill is the father."
The baby was born and the village family stormed up the hill and knocked on the monk's door. When he answered they thrust the baby into his arms. "This is your doing now he is your responsibility.” They turned to walk home.
“ Is that so?" replied the monk as he held the baby and looked at his new life.
The monk abandoned his formal practices to care for the baby. He learned how to provide for the child: food, clothing, and love.
After 5 years, the young woman could not stand it anymore. She missed her baby and wanted to marry her boyfriend. She told her parents who the father really was.
Mortified the parents made the journey back up the hill. They knocked on the monk’s door.
Full of apology they let the monk know there had been a mistake. They now knew the truth and took the young boy to their family home.
“Is that so?” was the monk's reply.
There are two yogic principles this tale brings to mind.
The first is that yoga is the path of action.
I’ve been thinking how unlike the monk my first reaction to the election results have been. How I thought to myself, everything is turned upside down. The monk too, must have felt that way about his quiet peaceful life. But because he approached the situation with an air of inquiry, he could see clearly and respond in a loving way. He took on the task of loving the boy as a priority over everything else. I too have been thinking about how I can respond to the election results in a way where I can see more clearly. I have taken time to reflect on how little I have done because I felt everything was safe in the hands of the government: the environment, immigration, equality. I noticed how, in a sense, I have become passive. I have been busy pursuing my personal goals because everything out there is in good hands. Today, I made a donation to WWF and inquired into donating my time at a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving.
The second principle says that the yogi, like a lamp in a still place, is undisturbed by the winds of life.
The election didn’t go my way and that is ok. As President Obama said in his Rose Garden transition speech yesterday, the sun came up this morning anyway.
The monk in our story must have been incredibly upset when the baby and the false accusations arrived on the doorstep. His reputation as a good man must have been ruined. His practice, routine, and simple ascetic lifestyle was turned upside down. But in the wisdom of his equanimity, he replied with an inquiry into the inevitable change that was before him. The monk was not being passive - he actually seems fiercely clear in his actions. I am sure he weighed the consequences of a fight to defend himself. I am sure he reconciled the cost to his own sense of peace and the health of the baby if he pushed back. He chose to care for the infant.
And can you imagine, 5 years later, how much he must have loved the boy? How his life must have been settled, after such a long time, into the joys of family living. Tucking the boy into bed, watching him grow, and sharing meals together. Can you imagine the loss the monk must have felt when the family arrived to take him away? And still, he replied, with the inquiry. His curiosity grows into the equanimity of wisdom. Wisdom tells us, change is always right around the corner.
The teaching is not saying we will not feel a spectrum of emotions. We will. And the stillness of the lamp allows it’s light to shine clearly. So we can do our work.
I liked the passage below published by Huffington Post, when they decided to remove the footer they put at the end of every article about Trump, that declared… I'm paraphrasing here, that he is not such a nice guy.
“It was a win that was at once foreseeable, yet one we failed badly to see. Where we find fault with how Trump governs, we won't hesitate to call it out. If he targets minority groups or encroaches on our democracy we won't hesitate to say so loudly and clearly... We have hope that the man we saw on the trail at his worst moments is not the man who will enter the White House. If Trump can reverse the economic inequality he decried during his campaign, bring back manufacturing jobs, find a way to give people better healthcare for less money, invest in infrastructure, and otherwise make the country great again we will cheer him on... We'll find out."
President Obama reminded us, “We are all on the same team. We are not Democrats, Independents, or Republicans first. We are Americans first and we all want what is best for our country.”
Obama continued, referring to Clintons remarks earlier that morning, “To the young people. Stay encouraged don’t get cynical. Fighting for what's right is worth it. Sometimes you win an argument, other times you lose. The path has never been a straight line, we zig and zag, and that is ok. If we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we brush ourselves off and we get back into the arena. We go forward with good faith.”
Let's be here as yogis to care for one another, despite our politics. Let us look at the world and ask, “Is that so?” Although the emotions and feelings may arrive like storms, the wisdom of the practice reminds us that the more quickly we can recover the better. Only then can we get back in the arena and be effective at working for what we love.