I am very fond of Byron Katie's book - 'Loving What Is'. She helps us deal with any problems in our lives - however complex they may be - with the help of a simple, 4-questions inquiry. She calls her programme - 'THE WORK'.
One of the things I liked in this book is this. She reminds us, that all of us mind only three kinds of businesses in our lives: Our own, Other's and God's. Stress, she tells us, is experienced when we try to handle the business of others and God. Whose business is it to stop an earthquake or tsunami from striking this planet? Can any of us stop them? It is God's business... Maybe, we can earnestly pray to Him. But, she simply argues, that when we see the truth that we can not do anything about an earthquake or a tsunami... that, it is for God, the Universe, to take a call on it, that we become stress-free, peaceful. Similarly, she prods us to think asking, Whose business is it to stop terrorism or a war, inflation or an economy-meltdown? Can an individual - you and me - stop it from coming? When we constantly worry about these things, she reminds us that we try to handle other's business. And, the more we spend our time and energy trying to handle the business of God or others, the more stress we experience in life.
Father drinks too much... mother throws things over it. Brother is into drugs... sister moves around with loose characters. The school teacher is too rude; the neighbour too showy; the Society Committee is corrupt... And, I worry over all these things.
Mrs. Katie argues: Whose business is it - not to drink like a fish? Whose business is it - not to go mad, not to throw things in the house? Whose life is it to stay away from the drugs, or loose characters? Will my life become any better if my son's school teacher becomes less rude, or my neighbour less showy?
The unexamined thoughts play havoc in our lives. While the 'concern' and 'care' are very important words in life... what we forget is that unless we first care for our own well-being, unless we show concern to our own life, it is futile and frustrating - in fact, stressful and painful - to show care and concern for others. It simply doesn't work. That's what Mrs. Katie attempts to drive home through her programme - 'THE WORK'.
Just as I write this piece, Akshay comes. Last evening, I had requested him to come today, at 9.30 in the morning, to help Karishma. Karishma had joined my class late. She had missed many classes even after joining late. Whenever she bunked my classes, she had never bothered to inform me, in spite of the fact that I had asked her to do so either by calling or through a sms. She would justify her absence, argue with me... and, leave me with a lot of frustration and inner turmoil. Now, exams are just a few days away. She has paid me fees, joined my class. I am concerned about her, I care for her. Her parents have difficulty paying her fees, and I want her to understand that reality, act responsibly. Last evening, when she had attended my class with Akshay, I spoke to her about all these things, and she promised me that she would be serious, now. I felt a lot relieved. I urged Akshay to come this morning and spend a few hours in my class to help Karishma in those chapters which she had missed. At 9.30 sharp, Akshay turned up, all the way from Navi Mumbai, yes, specially to help his classmate. "Where is Karishma?" I enquired. "Sir, I called her just now," he said. "What did she say?" I asked. "She said, she is not well.. not coming."
This is the stuff that makes most of us go mad, 'throw things' around. What a divine co-incidence, today! Of all the things in my life, I am writing, this very moment, on the subject of challenging our own thoughts.
Karishma has bunked, yet again. She may flunk. But, whose life is it, anyway?
"Honey," I can hear Mrs. Katie reminding me so lovingly. "In the end, the cat will only stare at you and cry 'Meow'."
Though we all know that we can never make a cat 'bark', we need someone like Mrs. Katie to gently remind us about this reality, to lead us through this path of awareness. We need a Karishma. A cat!