By K Gitanjali
A shift in attitude turned household drudgery into a sacred act
|K Gitanjali is a teacher, writer, and healer, currently based in Bangalore. She is the discipleof Mahavatar Babaji. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org|
I have always been harumscarum, whenever it came to organisation and cleanliness. I always thought I had better things to do than housework. Cleaning the house and other chores like cooking, washing, and tidying up, were things which would eat into my time. I thought that the time I spent doing all these ‘useless things’ should be spent profitably meditating, reading, and writing.
There was a time a few years ago when I woke up only with one thought in my mind, meditation. I need to meditate, I would tell myself, and then would begin a frenzy of activity, as I rushed through the chores in an hour or two, so that I would have the rest of the morning to do what I loved best. Indeed one day my sister did suggest practically, and sardonically, “Talk to God by all means, but clean the house too. Talk and clean.” However, cooking and cleaning were things I abhorred, and I toyed with the idea of hiring the services of a cook-cum- maid. However, cooks and maids do not come easily in a place like Bangalore, so I scrubbed and cooked, complaining and grumbling.
One day in frustration, I asked myself, “Why on earth did God invent a stomach. We would not have had to toil like this, if it were not for the stomach that always needs to be filled. Why do I need to do these jobs?”
Well, the universe has a way of answering your heartfelt questions. Imagine my astonishment when I opened my mail later that day to see a message stare me in the face. A newsletter from a spiritual organisation to which I had subscribed, sent the following, “You chose to come to earth, you chose this life. You could have lived in the other planes but you chose the routine jobs of the earth to learn a lesson.” It was as though I had been given a blow in my solar plexus. Obviously, someone was hearing every word I spoke, and thought – call it Higher Self, or guru or master or the Universe. That presence had really given me an answer at the right time.
I would like to say this made me reform, and turned me into a perfect homemaker. That was not so easy, however. I had to work at it, work at doing the chores with a positive attitude, until one day I realised that it was also part of my spirituality. The physical is not separated from the spiritual. They are two faces of the same coin. Since there is only the One, the physical aspect of life is just another face of God – the feminine one, while the spiritual aspect is the masculine aspect of God the father.
Aurobindo’s words, “All work is yoga,” also inspired me. I realised that when I was doing insignificant jobs like cooking, and cleaning, I was still communing with The All, for when I do it with a good attitude, I am doing God’s business. The Mother spoke of how nothing in life should be treated as insignificant, and how one should do small and big things, with the same energy. If you remember, Mother Teresa also spoke of, “doing small things with great love.” Maybe this is what masters mean when they say that you need to give your all to everything you do – not a common occurrence in this age, when multi-tasking has become the order of the day. I too was a multitasker. I would throw clothes in the machine, while rushing to the stove to stir the curry, and then run to take the clothes from the clothesline, and try to squeeze in a bit of television as well. No wonder I hated my household chores.
My life began to fall into balance once I began my relationship with the divine Mother. Saraswati has always been my favourite goddess, and the works of Aurobindo and the Mother made me do some thinking, when they said that Saraswati meant not only creativity but also perfection.
Where does perfection come in? We are co-creators with her. When we ignore the energy and light that comes to us from our Source, what results is imperfection. Imperfection is a messy house, burnt food, and a tense homemaker juggling three or four jobs at one go, trying to live up to the term alpha female. Hurry, anxiety, and non-acceptance are not of the light, nor are disorder, untidiness, and indifference, to the material aspect. God as the Mother is reflected in the material world, and she is perfection, Satya, even though we like to call her Maya.
Small wonder that once you adore her, and tune into her, she will transform you, so that you cannot but help reflect those qualities. She, the greatest Lakshmi, is all about beauty, grace, and perfection. If you can multi-task without feeling anxious, that is the right thing for you to do, but if like me, you find yourself torn apart, it means you are not reflecting the perfect light of the Mother. Somewhere down the line, we need to step back and ask ourselves what we want in life, The Mother’s light, or the ego’s imperfections.
Now I just cannot stand the sight of an untidy house. It is funny how the things I used to overlook, like newspapers on the sofa or tumblers on the table, makes me go back and clean up – not with frenzy that things should be perfect, but with an inborn desire for beauty. At the same time, when these things are beyond my control, I accept it gracefully, knowing help is on the way from the divine Mother.
I still would never dream of moving to a bigger house, or adding a larger car to my list of possessions, but what I would love to do, is add tiny artifacts of beauty to the house – for I now know that my surrounding reflects who I am in the inner.
Now I do not meditate for hours. I try to make my life a meditation. I try to give each job, the importance, and energy it requires, but if I am pressed for time, I do try to do two or more things at the same time, for I know that to be a rigid perfectionist is just going to the other extreme, and I need to take life as it comes.
I have realised the need for balance in my life, balance between work, creativity, home, family and meditation, so that I can move more easily into the wholeness that I am. Do you want to make your life work? There are two ways of going about it. Try to do it yourself with sweat and toil – or tune in to the cosmic Mother and have her carry you along in her grace. I chose the latter and now when I do my chores, I no longer complain. Through her grace, I am slowly coming to see it as another part of the adventure of life. Maybe a time will come, when I shall wake up every morning, eager to take on the household chores, and give them the same energy I give to my writing. Knowing the divine Mother I would not be surprised.
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