Before I moved into my own home here in Tiru, I had four landlords over a space of three years, each of whom was nightmarish in their own unique way. One was so slippery that he would assure me he would be over in ten minutes to fix a tap or whatever, but would simply never show. But when it came to collecting his rent, or to complain to me ad nauseam about the “foreigners” here (whom he had a strangely schizophrenic relationship with—on the surface, obsequious and smarmy, because he wanted them to rent his properties, behind their backs, virulently critical and mean), he was, ha ha ha, amazingly prompt.
Once I moved into my home, I realized that, although hopefully I had left all slimy landlords behind, another major mundane problem had raised its pointy little head: which is that workmen would assure me they would be over right away to fix something or the other, but they too would never show, or arrive hours after their appointment when I had already left home—and then they would accuse me of not being home to receive their lordships! Since my command over Tamil is terrible, I had no way of expressing my shocked disbelief at their bad behavior, and besides, I needed them to survive; and so I swallowed by anger and kept going, a day at a time.
Looking back, I see how powerfully my growing frustration beat down my massive ego, which had grown to its current size due to almost always being gratified. But there was no way I could get my own way here, so I had no option but to learn to bow and scrape and to adjust to the endemic crookedness (which the locals did not view as such, mind you, since most everyone behaved this way). Do in Tiru as others do, was my maxim, for the alternative was to flee in disgust; besides, I really wanted to stay here in order to experience the mystical magic of Arunachala in burning down my ego.
For the seeker on the inner path, it is vitally important that our thoughts, words and actions are in synch. Yes, many are hurt, even permanently damaged, in following their own road to bliss when we are dishonest in our dealings with them. When it comes to lying landlords or laborers, okay, we can suck it up and go on, but what to say of those in intimate relationships whose so-called partners think it is fine and dandy to keep them hanging on, trapped in a sticky web of lies, as they continue to blithely pursue their own goals? What to say when another acts on the belief that their time, possessions, children, relatives alone matter, and although their words might be sweet, their attitude clearly indicates that YOU can go to hell in a hand basket (whatever that is!!!)?
Keep your word, don’t take things personally, don’t make silly assumptions unless you are omniscient, and always do your best—I appreciate the simple deep advice contained in this single sentence. Miguel Ruiz listed these four rules for golden living and I consider him brilliant and clear; following his advice has served me enormously. I have encountered intellectually brilliant folks who can grok the most subtle concepts, but are also often so arrogant that they neglect the vital task of building a strong ethical foundation. The sad truth is that this base alone creates a perfect launching pad for the investigation into Absolute reality and we cannot progress even a millimeter on the invisible inner road that leads to Hridaya, the Spiritual Heart if we do not clean up our relative lives by bringing our thoughts, speech and actions into harmony.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to destroy all our vices and delusions so that we can realize that we are no less than the blazing light!