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Dealing with others

I knew two persons in the Sivananda Centers, perhaps more, who related to others quite differently to most people I have known.

They related to other human beings with an unusual manner of superiority. They were aware that they were wiser than others, because they were more practiced and had attainments on the spiritual path. In the case of Swami S., this may have been delusional. In the case of Swami B., there was greater surety, perhaps due to his age; there was also more honesty, and even a kind of humility. His attitude also towards Swami S. was one of confident superiority. Swami B. had the assurance, and the feeling of responsibility that goes with being a teacher; specifically, a spiritual teacher.

I have always admired such confidence, but at no stage have had any inclination to emulate it.

There are other kinds of superiority that humans adopt; usually from privilege of some form. The attitude of spiritual superiority is different, though it can also be accompanied by the other kind, due to a person's background. Many teachers happen to be Brahmins, upper class, academically qualified, etc.

And there is that other kind of superiority that manifests itself from not wanting anything that the world has to offer, and similarly being indifferent towards the consequences of one's actions. There is the famous example of Diogenes and his meeting with Alexander. (On being asked by the emperor if there was anything that he might do for him, Diogenes hesitated and said there was indeed one thing, that Alexander would move a little to the side, so as not to deprive him of the warmth of the sun's rays.) And there is the story of the martyrdom of Sarmad, who could not recite the full kalima even to save his own life.

If there is any kind of confident superiority that I would aspire to, it is the latter kind, since it is the cultivation of a kind of confidence that becomes unshakeable, making one indifferent towards whatever the world can throw. It is also the most attainable; it does not depend upon any material worth, learning, or any other form of privilege. It requires only that one remains confident of the way, come what may. It depends upon not contending, not promoting oneself; treating everyone with respect and no one with any special respect on account of position, influence or status. One can keep one's own council and act with equanimity in the face of praise and blame, favorable circumstances or adversity.

All this is Vasudeva.