How are things going for you lately? Some challenges? Nice surprises?
Do you stay evenly balanced through the challenge-surprise cycle? Or does it get wild? Does practice go on and off?
Have you ever heard that line how a man will never ask for directions so instead ends up driving all over the place, not actually finding his destination, but convinced (or really deluded) that he’s on the right track?
Or, does that sound familiar, more personal, to you?
And though in the case of travel directions it is most often portrayed as a male trait, all are victim to it (though we won’t get into this debate now :).
If it is the stereotypical male in the car saying “I know where it is”, and doesn’t, what is going on inside that head? And why can the … in this cliche story … woman sitting beside him feel freer to ask for directions? Of course in reality it has nothing to do with gender. It is one part social conditioning, and perhaps another part psychology.
Pride and self-preservation mix with delusion, in the form of mind (manas) and ego (ahankara) ruling as bedfellows. What happened to real intelligence, which is governed by the heart, whereby discernment dominates? Yet not in this case.
So it applies to all human beings equally – what will it take to ask for help? Simply. Humbly. Sincerely.
First, acknowledge “I know nothing.” In reality we know little, understand less, cannot really see what is going on because we don’t have the advantage of that (elevated) perspective. So to think one knows and has the solution is unsteady ground on which to tread.
Then, note “I have my intelligence of insight and can do my best to see what is going on now, in front of and around me, and I have some experience, a little bit of knowledge, to draw on.” It’s easy to imagine and make up a future in your head, worry about it or turn it into something fantastical. Memory is also fickle as we look at the past. So what do you know, now, from deep within?
This point is at the heart of ‘yoga’, ‘meditation’, ‘contemplative’ life, as the combination of virtue and discernment. Your own virtuous qualities will become evident in the situation you are facing. Meaning, how do you behave, treat others and yourself? This impacts how you see things. A clearer, sharper, yet virtuous mind is one that constantly discerns. Thereby understands the state of what is going on with them or others, now. This is different from “I know what is going on”.
Virtue and discernment lead to behavior and understanding.
That line is basically the distillation of an entire system of life philosophy.