By Nayaswami Narayan
Have you ever made a mistake and realized it right after the fact? I had a moment like that the other day with Dharmadevi. What happened? Soccer-ego.
Allow me to explain. I grew up playing soccer since I was about five years old. I know the game well (Not that it’s all that complicated!). As my old college teammate and friend used to say, “You pass the ball, you kick the ball. It’s a simple game.”
Dharmadevi and I have a friend who plays soccer. She’s a young woman, an excellent player, and is being recruited by a number of colleges. In one of her recent practices she got a concussion from heading the ball (Don’t worry, she’s okay now).
With that backstory in mind; we were having tea with someone and Dharmadevi started sharing the story of what happened to our soccer-playing friend. She said our friend got the concussion from heading the ball from a throw-in. “No,” I corrected her, thinking I knew more about her on this topic, “it wasn’t a throw-in, it was a corner kick.”
It wasn’t just what I said, but how I said it. I reeked of soccer-ego. Did it really matter?! No, of course, not. But my soccer-ego reared its ugly head and I found myself correcting my wife in front of someone else over a trivial detail.
Right after the words came out of my mouth I realized my error. After our tea, I apologized to Dharmadevi for being argumentative over something so meaningless. Being the loving and kind person she is, she forgave me. Dharmadevi’s name means the goddess of right action, so I had that going for me!
One important lesson I learned from this experience was the willingness to be wrong. On the spiritual path we are trying to transcend the ego. But we can’t do that by ignoring the fact that we still have one! It’s like attempting the spiritual bypass of thinking, “I’m spiritual, so I don’t make any mistakes.” Of course, we make mistakes. It would only be compounding our mistakes to not own up to them.
All this to say, if you feel you owe someone an apology, try apologizing. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to be completely wrong. And then you can apply your will to being right. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” You might also like to read Dharmadevi’s related blog, “Willing to Be Right”.
Rather than the knee jerk reaction of beating yourself up, be grateful for the awareness of your fault as an opportunity for further growth. Surrender your soccer-ego and then you can play the greatest game of all: Bliss in the Spirit and Bliss in All Nature!
P.S. Speaking of bliss, here is a poem I wrote while we were getting an oil change in LA.
Bliss is like the flock of pigeons
Flying in beautiful unison
that you don’t see because you’re “busy” on your cell phone playing “Angry Birds”.
Why not play with the birds of bliss in your own being?
The game is free and open to all.
Your price of admission is surrender.
Exchange angry birds for blissful ones.
Restlessness for the still seagull on top of the lamp post.
Distraction for concentrated power of the inner sun.
Bathe in Him,
and fly home with the pigeons
to your blissful realm within.