Are you a saint or a pickpocket?

crocus“When a pickpocket sees a saint, he sees only his pockets. When a saint sees a pickpocket, he sees only god.” ~ Ramana Maharshi

The pickpocket survives by taking money from other people’s pockets. Yes, he could have made different choices. We can always choose differently. But we will never know how it was for the pickpocket to grow up in the family he did, to learn the things he learnt, and to suffer the things he’s suffered. How can we know what lies at the root of his heart?

I am the pickpocket. I am the pickpocket when I scoop out two bowls of ice-cream and offer the slightly smaller one to Kaspa. I am the pickpocket when I avoid visiting a friend in hospital because I am afraid of hospitals. I am the pickpocket when I try to manipulate the world to make me feel better. I am the pickpocket whenever I am driven by fear.

The saint has great compassion for the pickpocket. She doesn’t condone his behaviour, but she does see how hard it would be for him to choose a different path. She identifies with his hunger and his suppressed guilt. Is the pickpocket God? I would say instead that she is looking at him as God would see him, through God’s eyes. She recognises him as a precious son of the Universe, just as we all are.

I am the saint. I am the saint when I ask the Big Issue man if he wants a sandwich because it occurs to me that he might be hungry. I was the saint when I let myself be led to running a temple, despite my wariness. I am the saint whenever I am led by love.

We all have parts of us that are pickpockets, and parts of us that are saints. How to shrink the former and expand the latter?

Anything that helps us to be less afraid. Connecting with others. Taking refuge in a spiritual practice or nature. Being kind to ourselves. Owning up to our pickpocket-ey parts and forgiving them. Tickling our bunnies’ ears. Pausing in front of the spring flowers. Writing blog posts. Closing our eyes for a moment and letting the light saturate our skin.


Today’s video for you, about setting boundaries.