By Nayaswami Dharmadevi
June 4, 2019
I used to think of myself as a lone wolf. I love seclusion and having my own private space. I used to have my own business and would have thought highly of being described as “fiercely independent.” Then, I became a disciple… and things started to change… slowly. Not that I became less independent or accountable but rather, I learned the value of spiritual community and teamwork.
When I first came to Ananda Village in 2007, I was called “self-determined” and though a part of me understood that it really wasn’t meant as a compliment, the self-determined part thought, “Isn’t that a good thing?” The problem with self-determination, I learned, is that, as in self-will versus Divine will, it is guided by the little self, not the Infinite Self.
Little-self-determination can get a lot of stuff done on the physical plane. It can be laser-focused and highly efficient. On the flipside, it shuts others out because they may be lacking in the same kind of efficiency. Another pitfall of little-self-determination is that it isn’t usually open to other people’s opinions, especially if they go against one’s own.
When I tried to work with others, there was a part of me that said, “I could do that better, or faster, or smarter. What is the point of giving someone something to do if it only causes me more work in the end?” Or when working with a team, “Why wait for him when I could just get it done right now on my own?”
There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”
What I finally started to realize was that though I may have skills in a particular area, others can do things I’d never even think of doing. And though they may not be as good at, say marketing (as an unrealistic example) they could be an incredible gardener – something I’m only good at in my dreams! As soon as a bit of humility sets in, we realize the fullness, depth, and incredible blessing of working with a team, and especially the blessings of spiritual community.
So, how can a natural lone wolf become a good team player?
- Examine for a moment all the things you’d like to be able to do in your job (or another aspect of life) but don’t have the time to learn or implement.
- Consider that someone else may have spent their whole life learning a particular set of skills that you didn’t.
- Have the humility to accept that we all need help!
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “If you can’t win the love of your fellow man, how can you expect to win the love of God?” I like to think that he would also say, “If you can’t ask your fellow man for help, how can you expect the intercession of God?”
This sometimes excruciating lesson, eventually leads us to the greatest lesson on the spiritual path – God is the Doer. Every talent, every skill, every accomplishment is His alone.