Selflessness, it is said , is a step to enlightenment. The Gods of the intellectual world want us to be like a star, which burns itself to give light to the others! Every time I read these lines, I just have one suitable response: The most selfish person is afterall not that selfish .
Even if you think this is incoherent do read on ——
Every week I go to a nearby village to teach basic English to a group of local kids as a part of our Institute’s Experiential Leadership program . When this program started, there were times when I felt like an alien, left all by myself to interact with a group which vastly varied in age, behaviour, likes and dislikes! And, to add my woes , I could not even speak the only language they understood, Tamil!
For some time I believed that it is ‘The Karma Theory’, as it’s called, which always makes me do good deeds, because I have always lived in the cocoon of fear, fear of ‘what goes around, comes around’! So, in spite of feeling like an alien, I still carried on.
Weeks passed, I continued teaching , but the rigorous schedule never really allowed me the time to introspect the changes this was bringing in me, until one day when I was under the weather and had to skip one of the visits.
That was for the first time, I felt the lack of something. Something which my vocabulary fails to translate into words here. But if I may try to closely express it, I missed being with the kids. The sense of belongingness which they bestowed upon me, subtly transformed me from an alien to their very own akka ( elder sister in Tamil). When I introspect , I never even realized how well we understood each other’s conversation only through actions and expressions. Language, which I believed was the biggest barrier, was never one, even in the smallest sense.
So, it is this love and belongingness which drives me to thse kids every week. The giggles and the innocence which surrounds me, takes me away for some time, from the tough world we live in. It is for this rejuvenation, I promised myself to make all those kids empowered, not just in the terms of language learning, but also morally and ethically. Unknowingly, I have attached myself to this goal. Therefore, I would be wrong if I say I am selflessly involved in this task.
If I were to give a name to this, I’d like to call it an enlightened form of selfishness: selfishness that illustrates itself in selfless behaviour. Much like material selfishness, enlightened selfishness kindles a desire to succeed; but not at the expense of others. I am out of the cocoon of fear. ‘Karma Yoga’ has cleared the mist of conventional egoism and I can see beyond I, me and mine.
There is a ray of hope, that I could make them good people,
I’ll make their dreams come true, take them beyond the sky,
For I am not anymore the hollow soul I used to be,
I am way beyond ‘the realms of I’………
Progressive Pallavas (PGPM 2013-14)
GREAT LAKES INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT