One day some years ago I and an English friend were standing in the Southall Ashram with Swami Ji and were looking out into the street. It was a hot dusty summer’s day. Bits of rubbish were lying around and the street appeared generally untidy.
My friend observed judgementally, “It’s so polluted Swami Ji.”
“No my boy, not polluted!” Swami Ji said.
My friend objected but somehow I got the impression that my teacher was not referring to the polluted street at all but then nothing more was said.
It took me many years to understand what Swami Ji was actually saying in that moment. My friend was not merely observing the state of the street. He was making a value judgement and value judgements are generated by Ego/Mind. They are relative and therefore not true – they are simply relative. Since Mind is the issue in Spiritual Practice, value judgements are counter-productive and simply affirm the illusion and where we a stuck.
During those times with Swami Bawra I would sometimes stray into Egocentric territory. If ever I did his reaction was immediate and quite stern. Sometime he would just look and I understood that I had made a mistake. One time I took hold of his foot and in a gesture of affection, and shook it – not hard but in a way that could have been construed as disrespectful – enough for him to feel it at least. He looked at me sharply and then immediately softened. He saw no disrespect and so the moment passed but even this taught me something. His dance was not with me. It was with my Ego. In retrospect he could have been harsher but that was not how he dealt with me and would I have understood? But then he never gave too much away. His way was to let us stumble and learn by our mistakes.