25 Apr THE POWER OF PETTY WORK
A few months ago, there was a two day free camp conducted at the Institute over the weekend for which many students and Sadhakas volunteered their services. People from all fields, seniors and juniors combined, worked together with no apparent difference in rank.
You could find a variety of volunteers, irrespective of their backgrounds and professions, serving food, putting up decorations, selling books or arranging chairs. Along with a couple of others, I was given the task to hand over polythene bags to the public entering the building, so that they could carry their shoes in them. We also had to collect the used bags from outgoing people so that they could be reused later.
It seemed like a fairly petty and simple job for which I thought hardly any effort would be required. Turns out, I was quite mistaken…
At certain times when classes would start, there would be a large number of people thronging the entrance and we had to act quickly and be alert enough to stop those who were not aware that they had to remove their shoes. We had to patiently listen to what they wanted and accordingly direct them to the right floor. Also, if they argued against carrying their shoes in the bags, we had to be politely convincing.
In addition, the plastic bags were new and had to be separated from one another and opened to make the process quicker. In the beginning it was quite difficult to open the bags and I felt like giving up and handing them over as they were to the campers. But after a lot of concentration and trials, we devised a way to open the bags very quickly. We found that the handles of the bags were not exactly aligned and the plastic could be separated easily from those areas.
This little discovery was such a revelation! I then understood the concepts of Karma Yoga being taught at the Institute. To be perfect at anything you have to have the genuine interest to work, 100 percent concentration and a will to learn and improve yourself.
After this, it was great fun even collecting the bags from campers, even smoothening them and folding them neatly.
A so-called petty job demanded a large amount of alertness, creativity and innovation and gave me that much more spiritual understanding. From now on, I vow to myself never to judge a task as good or bad, small or big and never to make face at anything I’m asked to do at the Institute and especially at home where I tend to more laid back in my attitude.
Now I understand why the senior Sadhakas who are really committed to yoga are seen running around doing petty as well as important work for the Institute. I only hope that I too get many more such ‘petty’ work to do in future.
Published in the Jan 2010 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine.