I just finished reading a biography called Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. One of the interesting points made by Rawat (also known by his spiritual title Maharaji) is related to success. He pointed out that a CEO might feel powerful and successful at work, but the question is whether she feels happy and peaceful when she goes home at the end of the day. In other words, a person at home and the same person at work can seem like two completely different individuals.
Rawat’s point reminds me of an Indigenous belief that the face of a man at home with his family is often different from the face he shows to the public. For example, was Bing Crosby better defined as a cool crooner or an icy man who created a “house of terror” for his sons? Or neither? How do scandalous revelations change our perceptions of John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and Mark Sanford? Do we now have a better understanding of who they really are? Did we ever? Do they?
Here’s a personal example: my mother and I were sitting outside the cardiac ICU as my father was recovering from open-heart surgery last month (he’s doing great!) In the waiting room with us were two sisters who were bitterly and loudly snapping at each other, drawing irritated glances from other concerned families who were present. The nursing team finally asked the sisters to leave, but they soon returned to continue their vicious spat. Two weeks later, my parents returned to the hospital for a follow-up visit and the woman working at the front desk was one of the sisters from the waiting room! My mother braced herself for rude behavior but was pleasantly surprised by the woman’s warm customer service, skillful efficiency, and extensive knowledge. Is that woman’s “real” character better defined by her cruel personal attacks or her top-notch professional expertise? Or is she both?
What defines your character? Who is the “real” you? Here’s what Rawat says to an audience about our tendency to change behavior in different situations:
"Chameleons – you know how they change color. You know how to blend in. You not only know how to blend in, you also forget yourself. In all these chameleon-changing aspects of things, you forget that little kid. That little being. That little person who has the ability to look out and see simplicity. See beauty. And be mesmerized. Which one are you? Which one? Are you many, or are you one? You have to make a distinction. Are you many, or are you one? Because if you find yourself to be many, you should be one."
Wherever you go today, in multiple shifting situations, may you gain strength from remembering that you are not a chameleon who must change as circumstances change around you; you are one!
Love this Deb! Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so surprised that I haven't read this book. I am going to order it right away. One of my gurus/yoga teachers says you know you're on the right track when your "3 me's" are the same. The inner me, the outer me and the me I aspire to be.
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