by Rukmini Walker
For the last week or so, I’ve been in South Florida, along with my sister, Susan, along with her very sensitive and caring artist husband, George, both of them from Maine. We’ve been here helping our ninety-one-year-old mother, Edith, transition into assisted living, from her own apartment, where she’s been living fairly independently for the last several years.
Until recently, Edith has been very sharp mentally, and physically, without any major illnesses. Her aging, and the gradual decline in her ability to control the affairs of her life has been causing her to feel desperate.
In fact, how are we ever, truly, independent? In all ways, we are dependent upon our Source, Sri Krsna, for the air, the water, the earth that sustain us; for our own bodies and minds; for our very ability to walk and for the ground on which we walk…
We are also interdependent upon other living beings for our food, our homes that give us heat and shelter, our communities that give us joy, and in a myriad of other ways.
We helped Edith move into her new apartment. My husband, Anuttama was there to help her the previous week, mapping out where each piece of furniture could be placed. Then we came with George who hung all of her paintings and family pictures. Susan has been path-smoothing for the last many months to line up all possible resources for her care.
Edith has been so grateful, calling us angels and thanking us all. But on her first night there, she and her triangular walker tipped over, and she fell and broke her hip.
At the hospital, her beautiful, young Latina surgeon came to see her just before the surgery. My mother said, “It’s just that I have no control!” The wise doctor replied, “None of us do!”
My mother, a lifelong agnostic, has promised me that when she feels desperate, she will take a deep breath, and try to remember to say, “Hare Krsna”.
In this world, there is only one Supreme Person, only one Supreme Controller, and our abilities to control are minute by comparison. In the wisdom and humility of dependence we can try to lean in toward Him and seek His shelter.
Bhagavad Gita (13.8-12) lists the qualities that define wisdom, beginning with humility. Number eleven on that list is:
It means to always keep before our eyes the perception, the darshan of the pains of this world- birth, death, old age and disease. And to always keep the realization that I am spirit, traversing through the sufferings of this world.
But, as spirit, we are meant for a much higher life. We are not of this world, and a darshan of our dependence can help us all – sooner or later – to remember that.
All the best,