Broadcast on BBC Radio 2, ‘Pause for Thought’, 2004
My dentist is a nice chap. He is originally from Denmark and has a jolly, Scandinavian way about him, except for one thing; he is very talkative. Until I met him I had no idea that Scandinavian’s could talk so much. I thought they were all very quiet. But my dentist talks me through every aspect of the dental process, reassuring me every few seconds and adding anecdotes to sooth me through the mouth numbing procedures.
I told him once that I was a Hare Krishna priest, he told me that his father-in-law was a Christian Minister who used to preach in India and we had a little chat about that. A few weeks ago I had occasion to go back to him, unfortunately bad karma for having a sweet tooth. I needed to have three fillings that day. The drilling started and so did his conversation.
I was pinned to the chair, as he rambled on and on about Buddhism. He talked about meditation techniques, Buddhist philosophy and all he understood about their understanding of suffering, desire, life, love and the universe. He completely forgot that I was a Hare Krishna and I couldn’t respond at all. I had to lie there, my mouth wide open with foreign fingers tugging and poking. I was being forced to listen to this fellow who completely misunderstood everything about me. At the end of it all he thought for a moment and said, “Did you say you were a Hindu?” Finally, I was able to say ‘MMM’.
I reflected on this interesting experience later and thought how many times I have misunderstood someone else’s intentions and motives and thus let them down; insisting, even to them, that I have understood them or not given them the opportunity to respond appropriately.
In fact, if we are prejudice, if we have made up our mind about someone, we ensure that we cannot have a proper relationship with them. People change and we all need the facility to change; not that If we make a mistake we will be lumped into the category of “habitual mistake makers”, never again to emerge. That’s cruel and egotistical, when I admit the reality to myself, and has no hint of love. I want to be loved for who I am, warts and all and should consider that others are no different. My personal challenge is to love beyond designation, religious affiliation, caste and capacity. Krishna has given us all the facility to be as wise or as foolish as we like and I have no right to take that facility away from others.
Unless we give each other the facility to fail, to grow, to learn, and to change it is like strapping people down on a dentist’s chair, covering their mouths and telling them who they are. It was strange when it was done to me and I have decided to try and avoid doing to others.