"No, Babaji, I'm Not Stupid!" I Disputed.
So, what did you do after you got fired from the spiritual company job for outshining your master?" Babaji innocently inquired.
I cringed, realizing my answer was not one I was proud of, especially to share with my guru.
Trying to evade his laser-sharp questioning, I responded nonchalantly, “Oh, I worked for hospice as a community educator.”
“Hospice? I’m not familiar with that...” he started in.
Still trying to act cool, I responded, “Hospice is a service for people who are dying,” trying to give as little information as possible for him to latch onto and be curious about.
“And what did you do as a community educator?” Babaji persisted, with his now familiar relentless interrogation style.
I matter-of-factly shared, “A community educator is someone who educates the doctors and nurses and people in the community about dying.” I faked a smile, hoping Babaji would move on to another topic. I wondered if he knew he was onto something, or if I was doing a good job of covering up my story that I did not want him to find out about.
“Did you like that job?” he kept on.
Trying to stay in the game and not blow my cover, I confidently chirped, “Yes, I did.”
“Why did you leave that job?” he said as he knowingly or unknowingly shot the arrow into my heart.
I felt my heart sink and my stomach starting doing flips with anxiety. You know that feeling like when you are at the top of a roller coaster, starting to plummet down at breakneck speed? That sick to your stomach feeling? Yes, that one. Babaji had just skillfully opened yet another can of my worms. He popped the lid off just like that. And now it was about to stink.
“Because my boss fired me,” I revealed
“What?! Again?! You got fired from another job? What happened this time?” Babaji grinned.
How he found this amusing, I do not know, for I surely did not. With my tail between my legs, I began… “Well, my boss was my close friend this time. So, it was not like I was outshining my master like the last time I got fired. This time my boss, Lori, and I had the exact same jobs to begin with. We were work colleagues and good friends. But, she got a promotion later on, and then she became my boss.”
“What was the reason she gave that she fired you?” Babaji asked.
I felt shy and embarrassed to tell this great master, but I knew it was too late now to hold back. I was cornered. So, I begrudgingly opened up and said, “She fired me because she said that I was not working hard enough.”
“Really?!” Babaji exclaimed laughing as he said, “But you are one of the hardest workers I know. I surely cannot believe that you were not working hard in your job.”
The cat was out of the bag, or at least half-way out now. So I decided I might as well just spill the beans the whole way. “Well, Babaji, my boss-friend was right. I was not working very hard in that job. It is true. I was trying to do the bare minimum, in fact,” I confessed, feeling like a cheater with no morals.
“Why?” Babaji simply asked.
Good question, I thought. Here goes…“Because I was getting my Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling full-time, and I was working full-time simultaneously. I didn’t have the time to do both really. So I did as little as I could in my job so I could have the time to do my schoolwork,” I sheepishly explained.
“Did your boss-friend know this? She could not be that cold-hearted to fire you for that!” Babaji reasoned.
“Actually, Babaji, yes she knew this very well. Not only did she know this, but also if it weren’t for me, she would never have become my boss. In fact, she had been stuck in the same job as a community educator for years. When I met her, and saw how frustrated she was, I pitied her. So, I helped her. I encouraged her to see that she had some managerial talents and that she could convince our big boss to create a new managerial position for her. I helped her write her new job description, including a big, fat raise, that she could propose to our big boss. I helped her practice making the pitch to convince our big boss of hiring her for this new position that I had conjured up. I rallied behind her and encouraged her and told her she could do it when she was having doubts about herself. And, it worked. She convinced our boss to create a new position, hire her, and give her the big raise. But as soon as she got the promotion, the very first thing she did was start harassing me, by telling me that I wasn’t doing my work. She would write me threatening emails and cc our big boss, coldly stating that I better clean up my act. I was in shock. She turned on me overnight.”
“Wow, she does not sound like a friend to you. But how did she know that you weren’t doing your work? What proof did she have? It is one thing that you shared with her that you were busy with your homework for school. But it is another thing to be able to make the allegation that you aren’t working hard enough at work. Could she prove it?” Babaji asked.
“No, Babaji. She had no proof. I actually was doing my job well, even though itand she knew that my clients loved me. I would tell her stories of creative ways that I worked with my clients and she was impressed by that. My clients loved how creative and fun-loving I was.”
“Your boss-friend sure was a clever woman,” Babaji remarked.
Phew, good, let’s leave it at that, I thought to myself. My friend Lori screwed me over. I was not the stupid one. I was not to blame in this. I was the innocent victim!
But oh no, Babaji was just getting started…out came the hammer. “I can’t believe you were so stupid to fall for her tricks. Can’t you see she was a tiger out for your blood from the very beginning? She was not your friend. No, not at all.”
Ouch, that hurt. I brushed myself off, my ego battered and bruised, and defended myself, “But Babaji, my nature is to help people, and my friend needed help. I felt bad for her. She was stuck in the same job with no upward mobility. She didn’t have a partner. She was 54 years old, lonely, and depressed. So, of course, I did what I could to help her!”
Babaji didn’t buy it. He retorted, “Do you know what really drove you to help her?”
Feeling frustrated that he just couldn’t see it, and that I had to spell it out for him, I raised my voice and said, “Yes, because I am an empath, that’s why!!”
Babaji started laughing and said, “Yes, I know you are an empath and I see that you are always trying to help others. These are good qualities of yours. But that is not the reason why you helped your friend, Lori. Think again. Try to think more deeply.”
“What are you saying, I’m not a deep thinker?” I snapped, annoyed at his antics.
“Yes, you are a deep thinker,” Babaji calmly said, pacifying me.
“Well, I don’t know what you are getting at then. I don’t see anything wrong with what I did. She was my friend and in need, and so I helped her out of empathy and compassion for her,” I said without remorse. "So, if that makes me a bad person, so be it!"I proudly said.
“It is time you learn this lesson about human nature so you don’t keep getting fired from your jobs,” Babaji gently replied.
Feeling irritated, but knowing deep down, that he was right, I humored him. “Okay, Babaji. What is the lesson?”
“You actually helped your friend for selfish reasons only,” he flatly said.
“Oh my God, so not only am I stupid, but also I am selfish. Really?”
“Great, thank you, Babaji. I appreciate that,” I replied sarcastically.
Then Babaji sat in silence, waiting for his words to sink in to my thick head. While Babaji sat in a blissful meditation, I sat there bombarded by self-hatred lashings in my mind. “I am so stupid. I am so selfish. It is true after all that I am not worthy of anyone’s love. Babaji sees what a fool I am. My friend Lori did too. I am such a loser. I should just leave now. I should go back to the USA. What is the point of hanging around here?”
Just for a split second, somehow, I glanced up at Babaji. I don't know why. I am not sure what it was in that moment that pulled me out of my self-hatred ruminations, but that was all it took. One moment to notice, I mean really notice this great master. There he was, looking so peaceful, sitting cross-legged with his eyes shut, just happily being with his own self. He was in no hurry to speak to me. In fact, I'm quite sure he would have been fine if I got up and left right then. I realized that I will only be hurting myself if I leave now. If I don’t suck it up and try to learn what my teacher is patiently waiting to teach me, I am the one who loses.
Finally, I relented and broke the silence. “Okay, Babaji. I want to learn this lesson from you. Please share with me what I did wrong.”
“Good. I am happy you are ready to hear it. For if you can learn this lesson, it will help you to be healthier in all human relations,” he calmly explained.
“Okay, what is it?” I genuinely wanted to know now.
“The reason why you helped your friend is because you wanted her to like you. You wanted her to tell you how much she appreciated you, and how good you were, how nice, kind, helpful, and just downright irreplaceable you were to her. Right? Think about it. That is what you were expecting, whether you realize it or not. That is what drove you to help her. It was nothing else. And that is why you felt so upset when she fired you. You must have thought, wow, how could she fire me after all I did for her. Right? So, you were actually not helping her purely out of the goodness of your own heart. You were actually helping her for your own selfish reasons. And, in this case, it backfired on you.”
“Wow, Babaji. That is brutal. I had never thought of it like that before. But it is true,” I agreed.
“And why do you think you were so blind to seeing your friend’s tricks? Like I said, she was a trickster from the start. Tigers don't change their stripes. But you didn’t see it then. You only saw it when it was way too late, and she already ate you up for lunch. Why do you think you were so blind to her nature and true intentions?”
“I don’t know, Babaji,” I shook my head, with no real good answer.
“Because you were blinded by your own feelings of loneliness, unworthiness, and desperation to feel appreciated and loved so you could not see her manipulative tricks she was playing on you from the start,” he explained.
“But what did she gain from pulling me close in as her good friend, using me, and then kicking me out of the job and her life? Even if I helped her for my own selfish reasons, still I helped her. Plus, she didn't know I did it for my own selfish gain. And even I didn't know that. So why would she fire me? She should feel grateful to me.” I wondered out loud.
Babaji said, “Yes, exactly, she did feel grateful for you and that is why she fired you. Firing you was her expression of gratitude for you."
"What? I don't get that. That is strange. That is not what people do when they are grateful. What do you mean?"
"Well, you should know that when someone is feeling grateful there is another side to it that we tend to overlook and that is their ego is feeling bruised. They feel minimized. She felt that here I am, a 54-year old lady and this girl who is 15 years younger than me, is giving me this advice. She is smart and I am stupid. So definitely her pride was bruised by your advice, although it made her advance in her career. Moreover, she thought, this girl is smarter than me and if I am her boss, she is going to outsmart and outshine me. And no boss likes to be outshined. Generally, the boss will fire her junior when the junior tries to outshine. But she did it in anticipation because she already knew that this will happen. So why not nip the problem in the bud? Also, I have taught you before about jealousy. She was very jealous of you. You were 15 years younger, smarter, and had big plans for your life. She could not stand it. So, she made a plan to get rid of you so she would not have to be faced with someone who was better than her. Furthermore, she would not feel comfortable in your presence, because you were friends and now she has to be your boss. You see, there are so many reasons why she fired you and you never thought about these,” Babaji revealed.
“Oh my god! No way! So, she didn't think of me as a friend, at all? She didn't care about all that I did for her?” I exclaimed in disbelief about the extent that jealousy can go.
“Yes, it is true. Jealousy is a very harmful emotion. People sabotage, gossip, criticize, compare, compete, exclude, fire, and even kill, all out of jealousy. Now, I will tell you a story that I learned in my childhood to illustrate this. You know that cats, tigers, lions, cheetahs are all called as cat family. In Indian villages, a cat is generally called the sister of the lion’s mother. So, once a lion approached a cat and said, oh auntie, you are so good at catching prey, and I’m such a greenhorn. I run around the deers for miles and miles, work very hard, and still I can’t catch them. Deers are on the ground, so they should be easy prey compared to the mouse that runs into the hole that you are able to catch with ease. Can you please teach me your tricks? The cat said sure, my nephew, I am more than pleased to do that. She taught him how he has to hide, and wait for the prey and study his movements and to pounce when the time is appropriate. She also taught him how to catch, from which side to attack, and all sorts of strategies. The lion was very grateful that now he was able to catch his prey easily. He happily thanked the cat. But when the lion was walking away, he thought, I am the king of the jungle. Everybody respects my power. But I have to feel humble in front of the cat because she is my teacher. And I don’t want to feel like I am second fiddle to her. So why not I finish her off? So, the lion turned around and he came attacking at the cat. The cat however, was smart. She ran and climbed up a tree. The lion could not catch her. He felt helpless and frustrated. He asked the cat, my dear aunt, you did not teach me this trick to climb the tree. The cat replied, I am not that stupid. I knew it well that after I give you lessons, your pride will be bruised. You, the proud lion, king of the jungle, will feel humbled in front of me, a small little cat. Therefore, I have to keep some tricks for my safety. Now you go, you have my blessings. But don’t ever try to attack me. So, the moral of the story is that you should not give knowledge to somebody that the person can harm you with your own knowledge. You advised your friend to be promoted, not thinking that her ego will be hurt, or that she will feel jealous, and minimized in front of you. It was natural that she fired you.”
“So, what should I do to protect myself in the future from jealous so-called friends, Babaji?”
“Don’t worry about analyzing others so much. You can safely assume that people will be jealous of you for many different reasons. The best thing you can do is to observe yourself. Watch your need for affection, appreciation, love, connection, and validation. That is what knocks you off balance and makes you unstable. It ruins your ability to see the other person and their true intentions clearly. Also, always know that jealousy is a very common disease of the human mind, and it is to be expected. So just beware of your actions and consider how your behavior can make others jealous. And be prepared for that.”
“Okay, so, are you saying with my boss-friend, that if I was not so needy for her love and attention, then I would have been able to see she was jealous and ultimately not gotten fired by her?”
“Yes. If you are grounded and confident in yourself, no one can fool you, because you don’t need anything from anyone. Be smart. Don’t let anyone manipulate your heart.”
“Well, now I realize that with my friend, I was stupid. But, by your grace, you shot an arrow through my heart like cupid. I can plainly see that you are my well-wisher, and your kindness to me goes undisputed. Thank you, and for putting up with me, you deserve to be saluted.”
“Your mind was polluted. But if you can be humble and listen to my lessons, your stupidity can be uprooted,” my master concluded.