…my mother would say to me sternly whenever I misbehaved, which admittedly was often. I was a curious child and did not believe in the maxim of children should be seen but not heard (a friend turned that around jokingly and said: children should be obscene but not heard!) And so I butted into adult conversations and asked outrageous questions, simply because I wanted to know what made this strange world tick. I also had the “bad” habit of striking up conversations with anyone who took my fancy—total strangers, servants, the old, the young, the rich, the poor, beggars.
“You have no shame,” my puritanical mother would scold again, and I grew so used to hearing this that it no longer had an effect on me. I knew, you see, that I meant no harm but was merely trying to comprehend my world. Unlike many of my friends with progressive parents who had studied abroad, my mother was raised in a small town and believed we should remain securely within our birth matrix lest the wicked world ruin us. I found her constant attempts to shield us extremely irritating, but I also knew for sure that, in her pure and simple way, she was only trying to protect us.
Clearly we were like oil and water; nevertheless she loved and admired not just me, but all her kids. She had been married off against her will at sixteen and was literally forced to have a large family, which was then the norm for affluent segments of society. While she and I definitely had our troubles, today, as I deepen my own journey into the Spiritual Heart via Ramana Maharshi’s Direct Path of Self-Investigation, I find myself utterly grateful for the system of values and ethics she passed on to me.
When I asked her what she wanted as a birthday gift, she’d murmur that she’d be happy if was “a good girl.” This would make me mad, because I knew that, by no stretch of the imagination, was I “good.” I lied (the only way we could explore the world was to deceive our strict parents so we could slip away from the house to partake of fresh adventures), stole money (although most of my friends had liberal parents who believed in giving them pocket money, mine did not) etcetera, but nevertheless her values still embedded themselves deep within me.
If I borrowed a book or an article, for instance, she would insist that I return it in good shape and on time. Both my father and she showed us by example that we should always keep our word and were strictly against corruption and dishonesty of all kinds. Her heroes, not surprisingly, were great men and women who sacrificed personal gratification for others. She had no love for the tinsel aspects of life, nor for stars and celebrities, and lived a prayerful life. Whoda thunk that this woman I rebelled against so strongly when young would seriously impact me as an adult?
This post is inspired by my watching a certain wealthy family, who has recently entered the political scene in America, abuse their position by taking as much from over-taxed citizens as they can, while they can. I laugh softly to myself as the bizarre thought flashes that my mother (who has long since passed away) would have had no hesitation informing them that they have no shame.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who whips us into shape so we can enter the blissful Spiritual Heart and bask in our true nature!