Echo From The Cave: 186

Tuesday May 17, 2022 NYC

corncockle – the little flower that St. Thèrése of Lisieux loved in her childhood. She said that it showed her that in the smallest of things, as in the greatest, God gives the hundredfold in this life to those souls who leave everything for love of Him.

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, May 6th 2022

“I am Sorry”

Even though I feel that the practice of asana, meditation, and discrimination in daily life have resulted in me being much calmer and at ease, I continue to experience some feelings that I am not so comfortable with. Especially when a person, usually a specific person, behaves in ways that disturb me, I become frustrated, resentful, or bothered. And on top of that, these feelings bring thoughts that are not so comfortable for me to feel, so I have been wanting to work on getting rid of them.

Lately, experiencing these feelings reminded me of sentiments I have harbored toward my family, specifically toward my parents. For a very long time, I felt that my parents did not appreciate me, did not care for me, did not understand me, or did not even love me, and such feelings and ideas lived in me for so long because I continued to justify them. Sometime ago, in a discussion during “Study in Practice” (a program in New York, in which some disciples meet to support and encourage each other in the practice of Yoga in daily life), Anandamali mentioned that I should apologize to my parents. When I heard this, I honestly could not understand why I would need to apologize to them. Even if I tried, I could not think of a logical reason for such a thing.

In March, I visited my parents, after not seeing them for about three or four years. They are now older, sicker, and not so able to care for themselves. When I saw them this way, I felt for the first time that I wanted to say to them, “I am sorry.” The reason I wanted to say, “I am sorry,” was because I realized that there was something I had not ever recognized in them—and that was their humanity. I recognized that they want to be happy, just like me; they want to do the best for others, just like me; they try not to make mistakes, just like me; and they are also very vulnerable, just like me. After realizing this, then I wanted to say to my parents, “I am sorry.”

I remember one time, and it was quite a long time ago, that Anandamali said to me, “You never apologize, Karuna.” We were working on MYM projects together and sometimes I would do something, knowingly or not, that made it more difficult for others, or it even could have been a simple thing. When Anandamali mentioned to me about the need to apologize, I asked her, “Why do I need to apologize?” She answered, “to smooth things out,” which she later clarified to mean, “to bring harmony.” This reminded me of St. Thèrése of Lisieux who was so eager to apologize to anyone as soon as she realized that she had done something offensive or selfish, something that affected someone else. She saw it as the chance for reconciliation. It made her very happy to be able to clear things up, and then everyone would become joyful again! For her, apologizing was a way of loving God, of expressing His Love, through any opportunity, no matter how small or insignificant the situation may have seemed, she would not rest at ease until she apologized and took responsibility for her action.

Mother Teresa spoke about apologizing as a way of cultivating humbleness, and of humbleness as a way of coming closer to God by making oneself docile (disarming one’s ego). For the Mother, one way to become humble, was by remaining silent whether praised or blamed—not defending oneself or thinking oneself important—simply accepting willingly whatever God offers, without hiding. She said that to remain silent when praised or blamed, one must truly trust and have faith in God. And all this, she would always add, must be accepted with a smile, which for me, I take as a symbol of gladness or gratitude, the gladness that can only come from knowing that we may be able to come closer to God.

Since I am trying to understand more about the importance of apologizing, I also wanted to think about the teachings of Yoga which may help me understand this from another angle. My mind went quickly to the first yama (abstinences in thoughts, words and actions towards others) of raja yoga: ahimsa (non-harmfulness). I think Shri Mahayogi teaches that this yama is the most important one. But what is ahimsa? I think it means to not harm anybody physically, mentally, or spiritually. So, I began to think that if we realize that we have done something that harmed someone in any of these ways, apologizing, taking responsibility or holding ourselves accountable, and beginning from fresh, clears the way for ahimsa. In turn, I even feel that ahimsa could be a path toward selflessness, which means a path for true Love!

When I reflect on the negative and divisive feelings towards others that I can harbor and hold on to, I can tell that they lead in the very opposite direction of purity, which is the absence of egoistic thoughts, words, and actions, in other words, they lead in the very opposite direction of Yoga. I am also beginning to understand that apologizing is a very necessary action that cleans up our hearts and makes us able to love selflessly. In my life, it has been very hard for me to apologize to others, which indicates that I have strong pride or ego, but now I am ready and eager to chisel away at this pride. I am aware that I have already missed a lot of opportunities to apologize, but I hope that I will be able to recognize the new ones that will come. For these new opportunities, I am thankful to Anandamali.


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