ganeshaGanesh, Remover of Obstacles.

This week, while driving to teach class, I stopped at my usual VERY busy intersection-the kind that has 4 different convergences with lots of rush hour activity. There, in the middle of all of it, stood a man. He was seemingly indigent with a satchel over is front, very tan and sooty from the elements. He just stood there, in the middle of all of us trying to get to our air-conditioned jobs in our air-conditioned cars.

I might have been afraid for this man, but for some odd reason I was amused. He seemed to be in control, having made a conscious decision to be in the way. Maybe it was to make us notice him. Maybe it was to make us wake up to all those things we think and feel when we see homeless people.

We feel sorry, but also annoyed that we have to see such a blight on our otherwise lovely day. We feel compassionate, but also resentful giving our hard-earned dollar away to someone who might just use it to buy booze. We think how fortunate we are, but also judge him for his lack of ambition and ineffectual efforts to be more productive in society. We blame society for not taking better care of its inhabitants, but also feel guilty for not doing enough as an individual. Every heart-felt thought and feeling is shadowed by the fearful, dirty little secrets of disdain. We are human and still learning.

He was in the way of not just those honking, shouting wildly, slowing down and madly trying to realize their own morning agenda, but of happiness itself. He was a stunning reflection of ourselves and how we want to run down those obstacles and rid ourselves of anything unsightly. We can’t run down our obstacles. We have to find a way to gently co-exist and let life resolve itself in its own wisdom. Just like how the man finally and s-l-o-w-l-y walked to the curb on his own.

A few hours later, I saw him at the post office! I smiled and gave him a dollar. I figured he’d earned it by giving me such a wonderful opportunity to reflect and study my own relationship to obstacles.

Jai Ganesha!