A co-worker noted that I had a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita in the corner of my cubicle today and asked me some casual questions about it.
Later he joked with me about how much he had to do before the Thanksgiving break, and told me that he’d give me money to do it for him. I told him I could not do this, because I was hired to do whatever it is that I do. When he persisted and asked why I wouldn’t just take his money and do his work, I told him I couldn’t, because it was his job and therefore it was his personal dharma. He did not want to hear that, so I responded:
“It is far better to discharge one’s own duties, though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duty, for to follow another’s path is dangerous. – Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 3, Verse 35.”
To which he responded “What does it say about helping out your fellow man?” I struggled with that one at first, but since we were having this conversation via a quick volley of emails, I picked up my Gita and flipped it open at random to Chapter 18, Verse 37, and responded thusly:
“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but in the end is just like nectar, and which awakens on to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.”
My first thought was “Hmm…yes what does this actually say about helping your fellow man? He told me to stop quoting sacred texts and help him. Poor guy. I picked 18:37 at random, but I am not sure that he saw that it was an answer of sorts, to his question. Of course this was all just a silly, end-of-the-day exchange, but the verse told him that he would help himself and I would help him by letting him get on with getting his work done. It was going to be terrible at first, but in the end it would be the right thing.
To me this went to prove an assertion that I made yesterday that the Vishnu appears not only in major avatars but in simple words that can help guide us (if we are willing to accept it) to overcoming (in this case, tamasic) behaviors that misguide us.