Jealous? Who, Me? Really Babaji? No, It Can’t Possibly Be!
Giddy with excitement, I descended down the wide marble staircase into the basement where Babaji sat, working away at his desk in the ashram. Babaji had invited me to come to India to work with him for two weeks on a Vedic Psychology project. We had arranged everything by email and within a few short email exchanges, I was on a jet airliner on my way to India. I remembered Babaji’s words about the oppressive heat, advising me to wait until a cooler month than July. But I didn’t care. I didn’t mind the sweat dripping off my back, mocking and taunting the shower I just took. I was fired up to learn from Babaji. So there I was, melting and on the verge of a heat stroke in the steamy basement at Jiva ashram in Vrindavan, India, where Babaji sat peacefully writing. When I first saw him, I could not believe my eyes. He was so calm, barely sweating, acting as if it was a cool day and he was sitting by the ocean breeze. I tried to keep my composure, and not show how much the heat was disturbing me, as I approached Babaji. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and felt shy to initiate a conversation with this great person full of love, wit, and wisdom. Even though I was prompt for our appointment time of 3:00pm, I still felt bashful to initiate a conversation with Babaji. He was so absorbed in his work that he did not look up at me. I was afraid to break his concentration. I stood there for what felt like 10 minutes debating in my head, should I interrupt him? Maybe I got the time wrong for our meeting? Maybe he forgot? Should I just walk away and maybe he won’t even notice that I came? Finally, I thought of a solution. I decided that I would ask him if I can sit in the basement at one of the tables. My thinking was that when he was ready, then he would invite me to come and work with him.
I sheepishly uttered, “Babaji, can I sit at this table?” I felt so embarrassed when he looked up, thinking he would see me as the burden, disturbing him from his work with such a stupid question. But to my surprise he did not look at me. I felt confused. He was looking up alright, but not at me. He was looking past me at something over my head, behind my back. Huh? I thought. What is he looking at? The basement was completely empty. Then he smiled at who I could only assume was some invisible person, behind my back. He smiled a very big smile, like he was about to laugh, and he delivered a one-liner, that later, I would come to know was his hallmark. He gleefully said, with his eyes locked on the invisible person behind me, “I don’t know. You have to ask her!” I turned around and to my surprise, there was a pretty blond girl sitting at one of the tables working on her computer. I had no idea she was there. I must have missed her when I entered the basement blinded by my nervous thoughts about approaching Babaji. The blond beauty looked up at Babaji and returned his smile. They both started laughing, like they had some inside joke. I felt excluded, unwanted, and angry. She said, “Sure,” and put her head back down and started working. She seemed cold and indifferent to me. And Babaji was the same.
That should have been the end of that, but it was not. In fact, it was just the beginning. I took my seat politely and quietly reviewed my notes to prepare for the meeting with Babaji. Even though my behavior was peaceful and seemingly appropriate, my heart was burning. I felt so annoyed by the whole situation. Who was this random girl that I have to ask if I can have her permission to sit at a table in the basement? I came all the way from the USA to meet with Babaji, and now he is ignoring me, and this queen is the one who is calling the shots. Doesn't she know who I am? I was trying to keep my mind from racing but I could not. I felt angry at this girl who was given so much power over me. There were at least 10 tables in the basement. All of them vacant. So why did she get to make these decisions of my fate? And why was Babaji smiling at her so happily and not acknowledging me? I thought he would have been happy to see me, but he did not smile or give me the warm greeting that I expected. What was going on in this strange situation? What was I missing here? As the minutes passed, I could not calm down. In fact, my anger was increasing by the minute. I could not sit in that hot basement, sweating and burning up any longer. I felt like I wanted to punch that girl in the face, whom so coldly, nonchalantly permitted me to stay. This was so unfair. I don’t get it. I felt hot tears stream down my face. I didn’t know what to do, but run. So run I did, straight out of the basement, up the stairs and into my room where I tried to cool down under a ceiling fan blowing hot air around the room. I started wondering if maybe I should not have even come to India. Who was I? Some unimportant piece of stool whom people had no interest in meeting with, talking to, or inviting into their lives. I felt trapped, confused, rejected and very sad.
Whenever I don't know what else to do, I write. I got out my trusty new journal, hoping to get to the bottom of what was going on with me. I knew that there was something wrong with me by how strong my emotional reaction was. As my feelings poured out onto the wilted journal paper, before long I realized that this blond girl reminded me of my younger sister, the one whom my father favored over me. Even though I was older than her and tried my hardest to be what he wanted, he preferred her. I wasn’t athletic and she was a natural athlete. He loved that they could run together, play basketball, go hiking, or just horse around. She was also good at math and science. She picked up the concepts with ease, and this made my father proud. Me, on the other hand, I was a writer and a feelings person. My father couldn’t relate. I felt so hurt that my father didn’t enjoy being with me, or my nature, and this played out by me being mean to my sister, which only made matters worse. My father would tell me things like, “Your sister is such a nice person, and you are so mean.” That made my heart burn up even more. Needless to say, my sister and my father had such a natural, undeniable bond. It was amazing and beautiful for everyone to see, except for me. I felt excluded, unworthy of my father’s love, unimportant, lonely, sad, angry, and like a downright loser. I hated my sister for the bond she had with my father. I really hated her a lot. As a child, at any chance I could get, I would do things to try to exclude her from my friend groups at school. I wanted to give her the feeling she gave me when her and my father were together. I was so mean to her. She stole my father from me, and I was enraged about that. I didn’t know it at the time. I only realized it as an adult, when I came into the association of Babaji, who taught me about jealousy. And, of course, Babaji didn’t teach me the simple old American way, in which you just tell the student directly what jealousy is. No, it was not like that. Babaji created a situation for my jealousy to arise and then he waited for me to figure it out myself. He waited for me to come to him and tell him what I had realized about myself. Only then he began teaching me about the nature of the human mind, and my problem. All glories to Babaji, a true master in the art of teaching.
So, as the story goes, after a few hours of introspecting, I realized that I was actually jealous of that blond girl in the basement. I wanted to have a relationship like she had with Babaji, one of smiling and laughing together. You know that kind of relationship in which two people are so comfortable sitting in each other’s presence without even having to utter a word? And I wanted to be the one who could sit there and decide who gets to come and sit with us in our inner circle. Also, I wanted to be beautiful like her. She was tall and thin, and younger than me, by at least 10 years. She had a natural grace and beauty to her that I did not feel that I had. She reminded me of my tall, thin sister. Yes, the one whom my father adored. The one whom spent countless days and nights on exclusive outings with my father, while I sat at home feeling rejected, not good enough, and angry at my sister for stealing my father from me. I began putting two and two together, and realized that this blond girl in the basement was not my sister, and Babaji was not my father. And, I was not a little girl competing for my father’s love. I was a 42-year old professional psychotherapist invited by Babaji to come and work with him. He wanted me to be there. And the blond girl was not my enemy. I didn’t know her story, but she was not stealing Babaji away from me, just because she exchanged a smile with him, or because he asked her if I could sit in the basement. I could see things more clearly now.
The next morning, I made my way down the long, steep flight of stairs into the basement for Take 2. Babaji was in his usual position, and the blond girl was too. But it didn't bother me like the day before. With a newfound confidence, I asserted myself, asking Babaji if he would like to discuss the Vedic Psychology project. He looked up from his work and calmly said, “Where did you go yesterday? I was waiting for you, but then you disappeared.”
I deliberated upon if I should tell him the truth about my jealousy or if I should make up some fib like I was tired from the long flight, and so I left to take a nap. I figured I should tell him the truth, for if I can’t tell him the truth, then how can I learn about myself? I opened up my journal, and handed it to him, showing him my analysis, which I had drawn out in pictorial format. I explained how this blond girl in the basement yesterday triggered me, and I was overcome with very strong feelings so I left. Babaji looked curious. “Oh really? What strong feelings?” he quipped.
I divulged that this blond girl reminded me of my sister, whom I hated as a kid because she stole my father’s love and attention away from me and that was very painful for me. I then revealed that I experienced feelings of hatred for this blond girl in the basement, and I even had an urge to punch her in the face. I wanted to demolish her.
Babaji, still, cool as a cucumber said, “All out of jealousy.”
“Yes,” I agreed, hanging my head down, feeling ashamed.
Babaji spoke with enthusiasm. “This is very good that you can see your own jealousy. Most people cannot. They do not want to admit they feel such feelings. They will come to me and ask me if I can tell them their problem, but nobody wants to hear that they are jealous. They won’t believe me. If the person is sincere, they will search their heart and find jealousy. Everyone has some jealousy in their heart. Everyone. There is no one who is free from it. But we don’t realize it because jealousy is a very subtle emotion. However, jealousy can be a very destructive emotion. Jealousy comes because of our desire to possess someone or something. This is my father, not yours. My husband, my friend, my guru. You aren't better than me. You can't come in between me and my object of affection. If you do, I will destroy you. That is how we think. We don’t like to admit that we think this way, but we all do. In your case, you thought that your father was yours, and your sister came in and stole him away, right? So, you hated her. You would have been happy if she just vanished one day so you could have your father's love and affection all to yourself. As adults, nothing changes. We still continue on with these same jealous feelings. We become jealous of others who have some possession or position or relationship that we want or that we think that we deserve,” he explained.
I slowly rose my shameful lowly hung head to look up at Babaji and asked with great interest, “So, what are the symptoms of a person acting in jealous ways?”
Babaji continued, “People who are jealous never complement you when you are doing well. They do not support you. They try to sabotage you in very subtle ways. It could take you years to figure it out. They will act nice to your face, and sometimes even feign affection. But underneath it all, they want to smash you. They cannot stand your success. They would secretly feel happy to see you fail, losing your position, relation, or possessions. This is the hardest thing for me to teach about, because everyone who listens to me talk about jealousy, starts thinking of people whom they know who act like this. They never stand up in front of the mirror and try to find the jealousy within themselves. I am not talking about others. I am talking about you! You have this problem.”
“Wow, that is intense, Babaji. It is true though. When you were just describing the symptoms of jealousy, I of course, started thinking of jealous people whom have acted in unsupportive ways, trying to sabotage my work or my relationships. It is amazing how our mind works. That we focus on others jealousy instead of our own,” I replied.
Babaji smiled, and with enthusiasm said, “I am very pleased to know that you observed the jealousy in your own heart and that you are taking responsibility for it. I have been trying to teach about this jealousy for the past quarter of a century and you are the first person who has come and admitted that yes, I am jealous. Nobody has ever done this. Nobody. This is a fact. You are a rare and courageous person to face your jealousy so openly and honestly with me. I am very impressed by you. Now our Vedic Psychology work has begun. First, you have to get the jealousy out of your heart. You have to think that the people whom are close to me, are here by my choice. These are the people whom I have selected to help me, and whom I trust. You have to respect my decision and also respect these people whom are serving me. Just think that when you hate them, you are indirectly hating me. You should think of them as extensions of me. If you hurt them, you hurt me. You should actually think of how you can support them in their work, because if you are kind and genuinely supportive of them, then you are also supporting me. Treat them like you treat me. Think of how you can help them. This is actually all that I ask for from my disciples. It is my humble request that everyone get along harmoniously. That does not mean that we point the fingers at others whom have problems and are causing the disharmony. It means that we learn how to have healthy relations by changing ourselves, our mindset, and our attitude.”
Wow, I thought to myself, what kind of world would it be if I could think like this? There would be cooperation instead of competition, harmony instead of harassment, joy instead of jealousy, inclusion instead of exclusion, promotion instead of demotion, and love instead of hate. My eyes filled with tears for a different reason this time. I felt touched by Babaji’s words and inspired to change myself.