“The Vedas, like the Mundaka Upanishad, as well as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two friendly birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual atomic soul) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird (Krishna) is simply watching His friend. Of these two birds—although they are the same in quality—one is captivated by the fruits of the material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His friend.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22 Purport)
1. That time I crossed the road even though the traffic sign said to wait
“The technical name for the violation is ‘Jaywalking.’ Police can give you a citation. It is rare, for sure, but not unheard of. The objective is to keep everyone safe. The motorists are travelling at a considerably faster speed than the pedestrians. It takes just a split second of error in judgment for catastrophic damage to result.
“They taught us as youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road. Most importantly, if there is a sign, obey it. Well, many times I have not. The sign said to wait, but I noticed that the road was mostly empty. Therefore, I proceeded. No harm done, as no one was around to see it.”
2. That time I fudged my expenses on the yearly tax return
“In our country, it’s an honor system. For most people, the taxes get removed automatically throughout the year, with every paycheck. Then at the beginning of the following year, you file a return, detailing your earnings, your expenses, and your possible deductions.
“A few times I have fudged my expenses. That cell phone for my wife, I didn’t really use it for business purposes. That new laptop computer was mostly for my own enjoyment, but I claimed it as a business expense. If asked, I could probably make a satisfactory justification.
“That’s the thing. I will have to be asked. The tax authorities will have to perform an audit; otherwise they won’t really know if I was honest in every aspect of my return.”
3. When I helped that destitute person and didn’t tell anyone
“They were down on their luck. They needed financial assistance. They say that charity begins at home, but usually you give to an organization, who then passes on the money or goods to those in need. This was a direct offering. I went straight to the source. They know who helped them and so do I.
“But no one else knows. I would rather not advertise. A person I respect once said that it is not charity if you tell people about it. I really liked that. I don’t care if I get criticism or praise. To me, it was the right thing to do.”
4. When I cried after my favorite player lost the big match
“Embarrassing, for sure. It is sports, after all. There is no significant impact, unless you have money on the line. That was not the case with me. I do not gamble. From seeing this player on television for so long, an attachment developed. I want them to do well. I wish them all the best.
“On this day, they suffered a terrible defeat. Victory was within reach. It was in their grasp, only to slip away. Now everyone is criticizing them. I am quite upset about the entire thing. It makes no difference to me, really. This player has no idea who I am and I will likely never meet them. Just between you and me, I shed a few tears at the outcome.”
5. When I yelled at my child for no good reason
“They are so young, they have no idea what they are doing. Right and wrong has to be taught. Then they will learn. I am the adult. They are so happy to be in my association. Why did I have to yell at them? It was really uncalled for. They have forgotten already. They are so forgiving in that way. No one else knows about the incident, but I certainly cannot forget.”
From Vedic teachings we learn that there is an all-pervading witness. He lies within the heart, and thus cannot be known through direct sense perception. He does have a form, however, and this witness is an expansion of the original person, the soul of the universe.
In this expansion known as Paramatma, He simply witnesses. He does not interfere. The analogy is to two birds sitting on a tree. One is enjoying fruit, while the other simply observes. The first bird is me. I am involved in this way and that. Acceptance and rejection, bhoga and tyaga. The reactions apply to me only.
The second bird is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. He witnesses everything but does not interfere directly. He is as much inside of the saintly person as He is inside the worst sinner we can imagine. Without Paramatma’s sanction, no result would manifest.
I can take full advantage of this feature by always engaging in devotional activities. Whether others know or not, Paramatma will always see. He breaks from His position in neutrality and helps those who are devoted to Him, always ensuring that they can continue in their blissful activities, such as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Like sitting on tree birds two,
Individual soul and Paramatma too.
Enjoying and suffering of mine,
And He neutral like sitting behind.
But for devotion stance dropping,
My dedicated efforts propping.
So that unveiling to see,
The all-attractive one is He.
Categories: the five