I learned a good lesson today, while I was sick and staying home from work.
I take public transportation every day, and I have noticed horrible behavior from many people. One group of young boys riding next to me brought out a huge marker and began scribbling their “names” all over the windows and ceiling. One large angry woman about my age or a little younger kept talking loud enough for the whole bus to hear about how someone deserved to get her a** kicked and was calling her all kinds of names. Another man was sick with a wicked cough and was spitting on the floor. Another young boy was throwing food over my shoulder to try to hit his friend on the other side of the bus, and ended up hitting me.
These are just some examples of what I see daily that start to drive me nuts. I always think to myself, what can I do to stop them? How can I make them change their behavior?
Then I was watching an episode of “Secret Millionaire” this week on hulu.com. It featured a wealthy “self-made,” first-generation millionaire who said, “If this dumb guy from East LA that has no formal education could be successful and be a millionaire, then you know what, what’s everybody else’s excuse?”
Then a story from Swami Satchidananda’s youth summed it all up for me:
“I still remember a small story from the Pancha Tantra which I was told as a small child. One rainy day, a monkey was sitting on a tree branch getting completely drenched. Right opposite on another branch of the same tree there was a small sparrow sitting in its hanging nest. Normally a sparrow builds its nest on the edge of a branch so it can hang down and swing around gently in the breeze. It has a nice cabin inside with an upper chamber, a reception room, a bedroom down below and even a delivery room if it is going to give birth to little ones. Oh yes, you should see and admire a sparrow’s nest sometime.
So, it was warm and cozy inside its nest and the sparrow just peeped out and, seeing the poor monkey, said, ‘Oh, my dear friend, I am so small; I don’t even have hands like you, only a small beak. But with only that I built a nice house, expecting this rainy day. Even if the rain continues for days and days, I will be warm inside. I heard Darwin saying that you are the forefather of the human beings, so why don’t you use your brain? Build a nice, small hut somewhere to protect yourself during the rain.’
You should have seen the face of that monkey. It was terrible! ‘Oh, you little devil! How dare you try to advise me? Because you are warm and cozy in your nest you are teasing me. Wait, you will see where you are!’ The monkey proceeded to tear the nest to pieces, and the poor bird had to fly out and get drenched like the monkey.”
“We come across wicked people sometimes. We can’t deny that. So what should be our attitude? Indifference. ‘Well, some people are like tht. Probably I was like that yesterday. Am I not a better person now? She will probably be all right tomorrow.’ Don’t try to advise such people because wicked people seldom take advice. If you try to advise them you will lose your peace.”
And at the end of the “Secret Millionaire” episode where the proud millionaire had to live among the very poor for a week, he had this to say: I thought that success was money; but it’s not about the money, it’s about the love.
But no one told him that. He had to learn from experience.