What To Do About Attention
There are different kinds of swamis. Some of my colleagues are good examples of this diversity based on personality. To simplify and not to be overly stereotypical, I see those who are somewhat self reliant and not needing constant attention.
I had a few cherished moments with Bhir Krishna Swami who is from America. “This morning I cooked for myself and my disciple, primarily because he’s busy. I try not to get too dependent,” he said. We concurred on the principle that unless you are a very aged monk, invalid or terminally ill, it’s better to be somewhat self reliant enough to get around and look after yourself. You may have many students or followers who need the opportunity to serve and get a chance to be close to the guru, but it becomes dangerous, however, when there’s someone there to always open the door for you, slip your shoes on and maybe tuck you in to bed, when you are competent and able to do so for yourself.
In Victoria’s suburb, Collwood, to be exact, at the home of my host, Will was asking “How I deal with people around you, being a Maharaja?” Will is a follower of Baba Hari Das, and has seen his own guru with an entourage. “I’m not so high profile,” I thought, “perhaps it’s better that way. But if it ever happens that the paparazzi are there to harass, I’ll keep on trekking when everyone’s asleep.”
At the Yoga Shala Studio in downtown Victoria, a beautiful turn out of seekers came to hear about my pilgrim adventure. This group was in rapt attention and for the culmination for the program, took very enthusiastically to chanting and dancing. My brother, Paul, and sister in law, Joyce, came out and they jumped in for the fun. After 2 ½ hour stay at one place, I have the strong urge to remove myself and to go out for some fresh air. You could call it a little privacy if you want.
No doubt there is some attention that comes from the marathon walking that I’m doing. In some places you get treated like a celeb, or at least like a sadhu, with reverence or respect. You just want to make sure that you walk into the zone of humility when you give attention rather than get attention.