Bitter Gourd Lesson

My little nephew of six abhors bitter gourd. Not that he does not like the taste but rather, he got the idea from his do-or-die-comrade-brother of nine that the gourd is not good at all. Being young and naive, he unquestionably follows what his peer does, with little wisdom in it. But yet, mind you, he is one wise kid I have ever met. At the tender age of six, he is able to ask questions like why his mind does not stop thinking, why his grandpa needs to leave or why I am unable to speak Mandarin though he has improved himself by taking up English as a means to communicate with me!

Seeing him smart for a question of wisdom, I seek my partner’s interpretation of smattering Mandarin, sufficient enough to make my needs clear to him. Otherwise my mum-in-law is on the reserve, complimenting my needs a little clearer. You see, my m-i-l does not understand English that well and I, on the opposite, have difficulty speaking my needs to her in complete Cantonese sentence. My wife comes in between, knowing a little of Mandarin and lots more Cantonese than me, and hence my mum-in-law completes the whole picture!

So when my little nephew nodded his head to mean “I am ready for the question”, I sounded to him to choose only one of the three statements at his very best knowledge. I gave him three:

  • Disliking the food without giving another chance to check it out;
  • Disliking the food and keen to recognize why he is doing that; and
  • Disliking the food and yet forced to partake out of fear of admonishment from an elder peer.

He chose the second statement without hesitation and I questioned him further the reason of his choice. His simple answer was “I just love knowing why”. Now that makes sense as by nature all of us are inquisitive. And yet we seldom use this trait to question our fear or resistance. We take a blanket judgment and come to a hasty conclusion without pondering further, hence nailing down our potential of expanding our field of knowledge which in due time can come into maturity of wisdom, only when we put into practice of what we know.

Without the initial right information, or right knowledge, it is near impossible to come into deepening our realization as wisdom springs from the onset of right idea or right view.

By nature, we are not born to accept fear as ways of growing or learning but yet it is deeply ingrained within us that we have to use guilt or fear to instil discipline and commitment for change to take place. We do it to others and also ourselves. I am truly surprised that even spiritual leaders too advocate guilt as way of healing – that regret is necessary and redemption is compulsory for change to take effect. Obviously they have not given the thought that wisdom has the potential of making change too.

What went wrong along the journey of our spirituality? Have we missed the mark of what the Masters’ have spoken?  Have we reconfirmed what is already in our mind, the ideas that are dysfunctional in the beginning due to our lack of wisdom? Or is it because we are lassitude in applying the nature of the mind – inquisitiveness, which is an integral part of our journey to wisdom? You can only answer for yourself if you wish to see the dharma* coming alive in your day to day living, else the practise is only confined to the little sitting cushion, a fragment of your day living.

*A word to mean Truth

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