The kitten attitude


How many times do we worry about lack of clarity in our understanding of reality and about our purpose in life! How many times we wonder why we are put up in such miserable circumstances! We try hard to find out the cause of our misery whenever we go through bad times, as if by finding the cause we can set things straight… (curiously, we never try to find the cause of our happiness, we just go about enjoying the happy times). Can we really trace down the cause of whatever happens to its very origin?

The truth is, we can never precisely find out the cause of everything that happens. We may satisfy ourselves with different astrological theories, scientific theories, but none of these is infallible. At a particular time or a particular circumstance a theory may seem to make sense, but at some other time, it looks incapable. That’s because the field of human perception is very limited. What we see, what we hear, what we perceive as the world is only a tiny fraction of the totality of what really is. The moment we think we have figured out the secret of all life, something totally unexpected happens and we are baffled.

Then, what is the way? The way is to accept that we can’t know everything, and then accept things as they are, drive away all our worries and do our best according to our current level of understanding.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says,

Well, give God the power of attorney. If a man entrusts his affairs to a good person, will the latter do him any harm? With all the sincerity of your heart resign yourself to God and drive all your worries out of your mind. Do whatever duties He has assigned to you. The kitten does not have a calculating mind. It only cries, ‘Mew, mew!’ It lies in the kitchen contentedly if the mother cat leaves it there, and only calls the mother, crying, ‘Mew, mew!’ It has the same feeling of contentment when the mother cat puts it on the soft bed of the master of the house.

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, chapter 32)

The reality is too big for us and we can’t know all her secrets. A calculating mind only ends up in frustration. So it’s better to resign yourself to God (or nature or reality or whatever you call it) and drive all worries out of your mind.  If there is anything you need to know, it will be revealed. Be sincere, enjoy all that happens. All that happens, just happens.

Also read: The entire universe is yours!

(Photo by Malingering)


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1: Despondency of Arjuna

So, just as the big war is about to begin, Arjuna, the greatest warrior in the battlefield, drops his weapons and refuses to fight.

Arjuna says to Krishna:

Seeing, O Krishna, these my kinsmen gathered here, eager for fight, my limbs fail me, and my mouth is parched up. I shiver all over, and my hair stands on end. The bow Gandiva slips from my hand, and my skin burns. Neither, O Keshava, can I stand upright. My mind is in a whirl. And I see adverse omens. (1.29, 30)

Anxiety. This happens to most of us at some point of our life, to almost all of us unless you are a born yogi. For example, we prepare well for a presentation to be made in front of hundreds of people, but just as we stand in front of all the people and about to speak, the mind goes blank. Or just when you are about to give some kind of performance in front of distinguished audience, you suddenly forget all the training you’ve had over the years. Or just as you take up a big new responsibility in your work, you start doubting your abilities. Why does this happen? Why did it happen to Arjuna, celebrated as the greatest warrior of the time?

Arjuna says further:

Neither, O Krishna, do I see any good in killing these my own people in battle. I desire neither victory nor empire, nor yet pleasure. (1.31)

Of what avail is dominion to us, of what avail are pleasures and even life, if these, O Govinda! for whose sake it is desired that empire, enjoyment and pleasure should be ours, themselves stand here in battle, having renounced life and wealth — teachers, uncles, sons and also grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, besides other kinsmen.

Even though these were to kill me, O slayer of Madhu, I could not wish to kill them, not even for the sake of dominion over the three worlds, how much less for the sake of the earth! (1.35)

Arjuna doesn’t want to kill his own people. While Duryodhana would sacrifice anybody including his teacher, dear friend, brothers, etc., to retain the kingdom for himself, Arjuna doesn’t want to harm his people. In this regard, Arjuna is a little better than Duryodhana, or so it seems. But Arjuna forgets that if he doesn’t fight with whoever is on the other side and win this war, the kingdom would go into the hands of evil Duryodhana and that would be misery for everybody. He forgets that it is his utmost duty and responsibility as a man skilled in war to fight this war, defeat the Kauravas and protect his people.

Arjuna further says,

What pleasure indeed could be ours, O Jnanardana, from killing these sons of Dhritarashtra? Sin only could take hold of us by the slaying of these felons. (1.36)

Therefore ought we not to kill our kindred, the sons of Dhritarashtra. For how could we, O Madhava, gain happiness by the slaying of our own kinsmen? (1.37)

Arjuna forgets why he has come to the battlefield in the first place, and he is worried about things like his own people, pleasures and enjoyment of the kingdom, sin could take hold of him, etc.. In other words, he has lost sense of his priorities, and hence the anxiety. Isn’t this what happens when we enter into some work or some situation without clearly defining to ourselves the purpose of entering it? Clarity of purpose is is that important, isn’t it?