Archive for the ‘Hinduism’ Category

I was talking to my counselor the other day about the fact that sometimes I say mean jabbing things to my partner and I want to stop doing that. She asked me why I say mean jabbing things. I said that it’s because my partner sometimes says mean jabbing things to me and so I feel justified in retaliating. My counselor then told me about the “victim-perpetrator seesaw.” That sounded like a horrid funhouse ride in H-E-double hockey sticks at first, but after she explained it I understood: when one person is disempowered [by a mean jabbing remark] she feels bad and so to get out of feeling bad, she retaliates. You can picture the victim-perpetrator seesaw going back and forth, on and on, forevermore…UNTIL…you realize that it doesn’t feel good on either side. It is never balanced! It’s always one up, one down, each position maintaining it’s own particular brand of misery. After I had this conversation with my counselor, two interesting things happened to cement in my mind the theme of balance.

Interesting thing one: I read an article in the news that according to the United Nations Population Fund, the global population is going to reach 7 billion people on this Halloween. There is some nervousness about how Mother Earth will cope with these rising numbers (we’re the perp in this one by the way). After I read the article on the population, I remembered reading a different article that stated that ancient tribes practiced infanticide in order to maintain efficacious hunting/gathering. They knew that if there were too many people, they would all suffer.

Interesting thing two: I started a new block studying ancient India with my fifth grade class. Yesterday we talked about the goddess Kali. While studying up on Kali for myself, I came upon this poem by the mystic poet Ramprasad (don’t skip the poem! It’s really good!):

Mother, incomparably arrayed.

Hair flying, stripped down.

You battle-dance on Shiva’s heart,

A garland of heads that bounce off

Your heavy hips, chopped-off hands

For a belt, the bodies of infants

For earrings, and the lips,

The teeth like jasmine, the face

A lotus blossomed, the laugh.

And the dark body boiling up and out

Like a storm cloud, and those feet

Whose beauty is only deepened by blood.

So Prasad cries: My mind is dancing! Can I take much more? Can I bear An impossible beauty?

(It’s a very different kind of love story than the ones we’re used to these days) After I read the poem to my class, we drew pictures of Kali dancing on Shiva’s heart, tongue hanging out, eyes wide and white, a different weapon or a demon conk in each her many hands, skulls around her neck and severed heads around her waist…my fifth graders were aghast at the sight! (ok, they were more grossed out than aghast, but whatever, man). I explained to them that Kali is the goddess of destruction. She tears down the old in order to make way for the new. While she may be fierce and bloody, without her there could be no world.

My point may not be obvious here, so I’ll go ahead and bring it home for you: Balance is a interesting and complex maneuver. Often something needs to sacrificed in order to maintain it. The choice of what I choose to let go of in order to maintain balance is my own. Do I throw the baby out with the bathwater? Do I cut my losses? Cut the fat? Do I [fill in favorite aphorism here] in order to survive? Kali is equally happy to destroy healthy tissue or necrotic sludge. The choice of what to offer her is mine alone.

My counselor’s suggestion to the problem was to instruct me to visualize my life with my partner not as a hellish seesaw, but as a journey taken side by side, one in which we help each other over fences,  pick each other flowers and treat each other kindly, because we love and respect each other.

So that’s how I will balance my little seesaw. And who knows? If enough little seesaws get balanced…the whole globe could feel the effect.


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