“It is not proper to speak with her while visible to the night-rangers. So now how am I supposed to proceed? I am indeed in great difficulty.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.11)
niśā carīṇām pratyakṣam akṣamam ca abhibhāṣaṇam |
katham nu khalu kartavyam idam kṛcchra gato hi aham ||
Shri Hanuman is the dearest servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His famous incarnation of Lord Rama. Hanuman is full of good qualities. He defies logic by being able to accomplish the most difficult tasks while within the external form of a monkey. This paradox alone leads the less intelligent to believe that he is a mythological character. But in fact the more difficult thing to believe is Hanuman’s level of devotion to Rama. How one person could be so dedicated, casting aside fear, doubt, worry, and concern over his own fortunes, is beyond imagination.
Mary one time was in a situation of doubt. The uncertainty in this episode, however, gave her the great boon of learning about the divine monkey, who is the star of his own section in the ancient and revered work known as the Ramayana.
I was working as a receptionist at the time. It was a good company. I liked the people there. The office was very close to my home, so I could wake up before my two kids each morning, make their lunches, and then see them board the bus to school. As an aside, I’ll never forget the first day those little munchkins started attending school in this way. It broke my heart watching them leave the home. I couldn’t help but stare at the clock throughout the day, anticipating their arrival home, where I knew they would be safe and sound.
But by then I had gotten used to the routine. My husband’s job had a different schedule. He awoke before me even. He was already out of the house by the time the kids got up. So the job situation I had was ideal for my family’s needs. It provided a nice work-life balance.
Since I met so many people every day at my job, it was not surprising to get offers to leave. I tried to be as polite as I could to everyone. This is in my nature, so I didn’t have to try too hard. The customers that were pleased with my work would often ask me if I was happy where I was working. I always answered in the affirmative.
Then one day this lady offered me an intriguing opportunity. “If you don’t mind my asking, how much are you making here?” I told her. Then she responded with, “Well, not sure if you’re looking to move, but I could really use someone like you at my company. You’d fit right in, and the money would be great.” Though I wasn’t looking to leave, her offer piqued my interest. It was a job at a company that owned rental properties. I would be in charge of setting up appointments with prospective tenants and then showing them the units.
A few weeks later I officially interviewed for the position, and they liked me so much that they offered me the job on the spot. I asked them if I could have the weekend to think about it, and they said “okay.” It was going to be a tough decision. The job would pay significantly more money. It would be a step up in my career. The office was further away from home, however. The hours were also different; the morning routine would have to change, for sure.
Struggling with the decision, I called up my sister Teresa that night. She is very knowledgeable, as she is a professor of history at a prestigious university. Her academic expertise is strong, but I tend to forget about that aspect to her. To me she’ll always be my adorable sister.
“Teresa, I don’t know what to do, it’s a tough decision.”
“Yeah, it sounds like one. Did you talk to Todd [my husband]?”
“He said he will support whatever decision I make. He says we’ll figure something out with the kids if need be.”
“Well, you know what you could do. You could make a pros and cons list.”
“What is that?”
“Basically, you take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. That gives you two columns. On one side is the pros. This is where you list the reasons for taking the job. On the other side you list the cons. There you’ll put all the reasons for not taking the job.”
“Oh, that sounds interesting. Maybe it’ll help me to see things clearer.”
“Yeah, and you could go further even. You could start to remove items that cancel each other out. You could have a process of elimination, wherein you remove the items of least importance. You could give weight to the different items in each round. Not sure if you know this, but Benjamin Franklin, the famous Founding Father, invented this method. He described it in a letter to his friend.”
“Oh wow, I never knew that.”
Teresa then went into “history professor” mode and spoke in more detail about the system that Franklin used. I went ahead and made a pros and cons list the next morning, and it helped a lot. I still hadn’t made a decision yet when I met with my brother for lunch the next day. I explained to him about the pros and cons list, and I even threw in the little trivia that I had learned, that Ben Franklin had invented the process.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” said my brother. “That’s interesting. But actually, the same deliberation was done by a messenger a long time ago. He was sent to look for this beautiful princess. She had gone missing after an ogre stole her away in secret. This messenger took up the mission for the princess’s husband, whose name is Rama. At several points in the mission, this messenger, whose name is Hanuman, had to weigh the pros and cons to a specific action. The stakes were the highest, and he had no one helping him. So if anyone really invented the pros and cons method, it would have to be Hanuman. And in all situations, the ultimate decision always came down to whatever would please Shri Rama, who is God. God is one; He is not the property of any single group. Some may refer to Him in different terms, but it is still always the same personality. Since Hanuman was trying to please God, the Lord Himself helped him in making the right decisions.”
My brother continued discussing the glories of Hanuman, and the talk was so blissful that after a while I completely forgot about my dilemma. I eventually chose the new job, and things did work themselves out after a while. But what I remember most from that episode was the introduction I got to Hanuman, who I try to keep in my life as much as possible now, as he is so dear to Sita and Rama.
When tough decision to dwell upon,
On paper make a list of pro and con.
Better way for points to see,
Then knowledgeable the decision to be.
Hanuman long ago this deliberation made,
When finding Sita, who in Ashoka grove stayed.
Proper decision since heart in the right place,
His work always to put smile on devotee’s face.