07.08: Rumble, Grumble, Tumble? Or Humble?
Our media periodically presents us with celebrities who are self-obsessed egotists. Three words sum their life-trajectory: rumble, grumble, tumble.
Rumble: These people are so self-obsessed that they don’t find any subject except themselves worth talking about. As soon as they are given a chance – and sometimes even when they are not given a chance, they start rumbling about all the Mount Everests they have scaled. It hardly matters to them that most of the people around them can’t see any mount nearby, leave alone the Everest.
Grumble: When life doesn’t make way for their dreams, they start grumbling as if the combined weights of multiple Mount Everest were crushing them. As reality grinds into their dreams and leaves little room for self-praise, their self-obsession vents itself in self-pity.
Tumble: Gradually, inevitably time diminishes and decimates their vaunted abilities, leaving them with nothing to brag about. As much as they had raised themselves high in the sky by their self-obsessed imagination, that much is their tumble as reality fells and flattens their fanciful Eiffel Towers into dust.
This life trajectory might be a bit exaggerated, but sometimes exaggeration is the best, if not the only, way to draw attention to the absurdity of reality. If we look within our hearts, we will probably find a miniature version of such an egotist, downsized according to our abilities, waiting and wanting to propel us on a similar tragic trajectory.
Humble: Gita wisdom opens a better trajectory for us. The Bhagavad-gita (7.8) indicates that our abilities are not our own; all abilities belong to Krishna. The abilities that we presently have are borrowed from him for the duration that our past good karma warrants. As soon as our good karma runs out – and none of us know when it will, our abilities will return to their actual owner, leaving us only with the consequences of our use, underuse or abuse of those abilities. This insight grounds us in humility and protects us from being carried away by self-obsession.
Gita wisdom reveals a further dynamic, devotional dimension of humility: replacing self-obsession with Krishna-obsession. When we use our abilities to speak about and glorify Krishna, we discover a universe of fulfillment that exposes the gratification from self-obsession to be less than a mustard seed.