One day in late summer, in the heat and humidity of Maryland, I was out on the deck when I heard a horrible whine. I could not figure out what animal was making the sound. The animal sounded injured. Finally I saw a hawk, a male hawk, screaming. A female hawk flew into the area and the young hawk went crazy flying after her. The female turned around and left as fast as she could.
Searching on the internet, I uncovered that this was not a fluke event. The female was the mother of the young male. The mother hawk had waited too long to kick her young one out of the nest and encourage him to learn how to survive. So when she finally threw him out he had no tools to survive on his own. His cry was the cry of juvenile hawks when they are in this condition. Now he would either figure it out or die. For the next couple of weeks I watched this apex predator pecking around in the dirt looking for worms, bugs and anything he could possibly eat. The season was at a point when all the easy prey had already been taken.
Obviously, this hawk struggled. He would walk in the field looking for food. He even would crawl along the fence looking more like a sparrow than a hawk. The mother would occasionally show up, and he would fly after her as she evaded pursuit. And the cries were pathetic. When I told some people, they would say, “Oh, the poor thing”. No: the mother crippled him and abandoned him, but he certainly did not need sympathy. He needed guts and perseverance. I waited to either hear a change or silence. Finally, one day I heard him make the familiar call of an adult male hawk.
How many children are in that hawk’s dire situation? How many of us are crippling through life, unwilling to “be” alive and “live” to our fullest? We win by losing, believing that is the only way to get love. We may have gotten attention that way, but we did not get love. When my children were young I had a sign on the wall: “Get attention by doing things right, not by drama”.
The culture of self-esteem produces young hawks unable to survive. We are bringing up children who win by losing. The winner is the victim, the most crippled. As Radhakrishnan put it in his translation and commentary on the Bhagavadgītā, “The tāmasa nature is dull and inert; its mind is dark and confused and its whole life is one continuous submission to environment” (319).
Here is a foursquare that might illuminate our understanding:
Through this culture we create a narrative that poisons us. We buy our narrative of victimhood and goodness and innocence. And when we buy it, we then contribute to our own poisoning. In seeing ourselves as victims, we submit to environment. We then have no choice and are determined to be mired in this Hell. We aspire to be and remain in our childhood experiences.
In the introduction to his translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Thomas Cleary quotes Master Sun: “Look upon your soldiers as beloved children, and they willingly die with you.” But he also points out that Master Sun counsels against being indulgent, so that your soldiers become like spoiled children (24-25).
Sādhana is about letting go of our cherished narrative and realigning ourselves to God. The Guru is the parent that is constantly supporting the sādhaka in this process. It is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process, so that when the disciple stops fighting the Guru everything goes easily and joyously and with great humor back to God. Who we truly are is “perfect just the way we are”. But as long as we believe we are the narrative we perpetuate, the joke is on us. And this is so sad, because we look and act like that apex predator pecking for worms.
Share this Post