Our lives are teaching stories, for us and for others. They should first be teaching stories for us, but we tend to avoid that, so we provide wonderful lessons to be learned by those watching us.
Usually, we can see from someone else’s life what the lesson is, but it is more difficult for us to reflect and see the lessons within our own lives. We tend to decide on a very superficial lesson that focuses on what is outside of us instead of what we bring to the table. The truth is, if we knew what we brought to the table, we probably would be horrified. And hopefully we would change. But we would rather change the outside, which is our unfortunate focus, to be in harmony with our vibrations.
Not until we turn inward and look squarely at our character and its actions can anything change. That is where a teaching story truly illumines the resolution we are seeking.
The story of Ravidas is a great example of this. Baba told this story so many times. Ravidas was a great being. He took a vow to stay the night only at temples, so he never stayed at anybody’s house. But a very devout couple kept begging him to come stay with them. Ravidas kept saying no, but they were so persistent that eventually he relented and agreed to stay a night at their home. So he went to their house, and they fed him and showed him to the room where he would sleep. Shortly after Ravidas fell asleep, the wife came into the room and made advances at him. “Madam, you’re married,” he said. She left, but soon returned and again made advances at him. Ravidas fended her off, only for her to say, “But I’m not married. I killed my husband.” Ravidas then repelled her. She ran out of the house yelling “Rape! Murder! Rape! Murder!”
When the authorities came, Ravidas did not defend himself. They knew he was a great being, so instead of executing him they cut off his arms at the elbows as punishment. And he accepted that punishment and went on with his life, his sādhana. Eventually, he attained realization. And because he was such a great being, God granted him a boon. So he asked, “What did that incident mean?”
And God said, “There was a Brahmin sitting on a riverbank saying his prayers. A cow passed by. A little while later, a butcher came by and asked the Brahmin, ‘Did you see a cow?’ The Brahmin said ‘Yes’ and pointed toward where the cow had gone. The butcher then caught the cow and killed it. The woman was the cow. The butcher was the husband. And Ravidas was the Brahmin who pointed.”
Could this happen? Yes. It is an actual story involving a man, a woman, and another man—people. What are we supposed to learn from it? Our actions have consequences, and we must reap those consequences.
Could Ravidas have not reaped those karmic consequences outwardly, in the form of having his arms cut off at the elbows? Yes. If he had stuck to his vow, he would never have been at the couple’s house. So then how could he otherwise reap this? The vibrations and the karmic effects were resting deep within him. Through his sādhana, at some point he could have internally faced those vibrations in his meditation and burned them up without any external manifestations.
We also have those choices. If we are willing to know our lessons from early life events, we can restrain ourselves and choose not to walk into situations that make them manifest.
Everything that happens to us, around us, and within us is a lesson. We need to be willing to see it. So when it first shows up in our lives in a small way and people say, “Learn from this,” and we don’t want to learn from it, it only grows. You get another, more obvious chance to learn the lesson, and then an even more obvious opportunity whose ramifications are awful. The shakti is all-knowing, and it will keep making our life lessons louder and louder until we learn them.
The good news is that the shakti is more powerful than any of us, and eventually its instruction will sink in. The question is how long we want to put it off. Teaching stories will continue for each of us, as long as we have need of them.
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