The town of Khajuraho is home to an exquisitely built temple complex known for its erotic engravings lining the interior and exterior temple walls. A tribute to human skill and endeavor, these temples represent the range of human capacity. The lower levels of artistic engravings display the beastly tendencies and ordinary daily activities of life. As the temple ascends, so does the possibility for human growth and the capacity for compassion and courage.
These magnificent temples attract tourists from around the world, and the town has shaped itself to accommodate these visitors. Young men and boys line the streets waiting to prey on any and all potential customers. They have not so fondly become known as “hawkers”, and anyone experiencing a day of shopping will undeniably agree with this label.
If one truly wants to experience what Khajuraho offers and find a way into the stores to see what treasures might be waiting, one has to learn to deal with these hawkers. Unkindness or rudeness, one quickly learns, are not the answer. These don’t breed well for building relations between countries and cultures nor do they leave one feeling very good inside. The secret that gets learned is to be kind, but firm. “Kind, but firm” gets one past the formidable wall of hawkers and into a fuller experience of the town.
This experience of being in Khajuraho feels similar to the experience of being in my own mind. In my mind lives a formidable wall of thoughts that feel like hawkers shouting a litany of everything that is wrong with me. They prey on me, attempting to entangle me and make me a prisoner of discontent and self-abuse, leaving me an exhausted captive in the process.
The great masters of life have something to say about the hawkers that reside in our mind. They teach us to treat these non-supportive thoughts much like I am learning to treat the hawkers in town, “kindly, but firmly”. There are plenty of other thoughts in our mind… thoughts that lead to well-being, harmony, happiness and growth…thoughts that make us feel thankful to be alive. These thoughts are waiting for us alongside the thoughts that prey on us. We can be skilled enough to kindly but firmly choose to dwell on the thoughts that spread well-being within us and around us. Why would we choose differently?