The other day, I was invited by a friend for a ‘Drink and Dine’ evening with their friends, only I wasn’t drinking and I had already had dinner so in summary not a great idea.
One of the things that stayed with me from that evening was a discussion called ‘Who’s the Asshole here’. All of us were connected by our common interest of Meditating so the discussion was in the context of this one place where we all go to – Bodhi Zendo. I’m going to address Bodhi Zendo as ‘the Center’ in the post.
I’d like to lay it out here for people to pitch in –
Person 1 –
Person 1 believes this person (non Indian) who stayed at the Center for almost the entire course of Covid lockdowns, hoarded his plate with food and ate alone in his room, did not do the one hour community service, often came late to the meditation (but before the last bell after which the door closes), is an asshole.
Profile of Person 1:
I don’t much about this person except that they do spend long periods of time at the center themselves. They’re doing a bachelor’s or master’s program long distance so I’m guessing their time commitment outside the meditation program is not as visible as say a remote worker’s.
Person 2 –
Person 2 believes remote workers who continue working from the center are assholes for they destroy the sanctity of the place. Person 2 also dislikes short term guests at the center.
Profile of Person 2:
They spend months at the center on each visit. I have little information on their source of income but I do know they don’t have time commitments like college or a job.
Person 3 –
Person 3 believes anyone who spends longer than a month at the center is an asshole as it limits the accessibility of the place. The center is a small place with a capacity of about 30 people, with people booking their stay months in advance and often for months at a time, it becomes harden for people to find place.
Profile of Person 3:
They spend anywhere between 5-10 days at the center on each visit. They work remotely but don’t do so from the center to main separation between place of work and place for healing.
Person 4 –
Person 4 believes anyone who used the center as a cheap accommodation by staying there for months, working remotely etc. is an asshole.
Person 4 believes long stays should be allowed for people who are not locals (Indians) and therefore can use the facility sparsely.
Profile of Person 4:
Person 4 has been going to the center since years. Their source of income is pension from their previous job outside India.
The reason the discussion (this happened with multiple people over many weeks), has stayed with me is is it’s a classic example of how we all operate from a place of bias. We find it so easy to relate to someone with our profile even if that makes us elitist. We’re easy to demonise the other side.
As a working person, I 100% empathise with people who can only come for such a program for a short period only. At the end of the day, I believe it boils down to people. I have met people there who became friends even though we crossed paths only for a few days, and then there were people who stayed fro months but didn’t want to speak to anyone outside their friends.
I also thought how our having that discussion itself makes us assholes, we are talking about using a meditation retreat place the ‘right’ way which doesn’t belong to any of us or belongs to all of us much the same way.
Which of the above people do you think I am? And who do YOU think is an asshole in such a palce?