I came across two events, both of which occurred within one week. These two events were reported in the news, a while ago:
A chimpanzee escaped and roamed out of control and mauled a woman and started attacking others. The chimp was reportedly the pet of a local resident in CT. Emergency help was called. The police responded promptly and chased the chimp. Finally, the chimp was shot dead by a police man. Later it was identified that the chimp had been treated with medication, which had de-stabilized the animal leading to its irrational behavior. It was also mentioned that the chimp knew the woman who was mauled, but it did not recognize her, since she had changed her hairstyle! The woman was admitted to the hospital under serious conditions.
A school of Dolphin was trapped under a thick solid sheet of ice in the arctic sea. Official rescue was called to help, but no help was available, since the ice cutters were all tied up. A group of four fishermen took up the matter in their own hands. Driving their speed boat, they repeatedly rammed it against the ice block, until it was split open, creating a clear path for the dolphins to swim easily into the open waters. The local folks celebrated the outcome and the fishermen were heralded as their local hero. Describing their feeling one of the fishermen exclaimed, “In a scale of 1 to 10, I feel like 30”.
Both the policemen and the Fishermen executed their duty – what they saw was the right thing to do, under the circumstances – even though one action resulted in death and another resulted in saving lives.
Higher the goal and more universal the calling – for a larger purpose, well beyond the narrow confines of duty as called upon in our daily life – greater the sense of inner joy or satisfaction from execution of such duty: The fisherman’s feeling of joy at a level of 30 in a scale of 1 to 10!
There could be sadness in the heart of the policeman who killed the Chimp, after having done the right thing as per his duty. There could be anger in the woman and her family for having been mauled by a pet animal. The fisherman could feel miserable, if the dolphins had died, even after having risen to a calling much larger than their normal duty. None such anger or anguish would occur, if every one involved reflected on all these circumstances as part of nature, governed by a larger order (or the God). Such faith in a larger order, gives us the courage and commitment do the right thing and cope with the consequences.
Standing apart from both these events – since we are not personally or emotionally connected with either – we are able to see the two situations in which these two events took place, with all of the details and the components.
Here is a comparison of the two situations:
Chimpanzee – Pet animal; Dolphins in the wilderness
Unstable animal; Trapped animal
Official help available; could not get official help
Police on duty step into action; Civic minded fishermen step in
Chimp is killed;Dolphins are saved
Woman known to the chimpis hurt and in the hospital; Strangers rescue the dolphins and feel very good about it
We are the witness to these details and yet, they do not overwhelm us and unduly influence our stability. We see both these events as part of nature. Such separation permits us to observe and learn about these events, with out being perturbed or affected in any way. We respect both the police men as well as the fishermen for their courage and commitment to their actions. We grieve for the chimpanzee as much as we celebrate the safe release of the dolphins. We feel sorrow for the woman and pray for her speedy recovery, while we relate to the joy of the fishermen and the freedom of the whales. Through all this we begin to understand the meaning of non-duality: Equal in pleasure and pain; equal in sorrow and happiness.