How Do You Live Your Life When No One Is Watching?

“How do you live your life when no one is watching?”

There is a story I have been told of two seekers who went to a holy being, wanting to find God.  So the guru said, “Look, it’s a big topic, and I’m a little busy right now.  I couldn’t just tell you how to find God.  Here – I’m giving each of you a piece of stick.  Go and find a place where no one is present.  Break it in two pieces, and come back to me, and then we’ll take it from there.”

So these two went out, looking for a place where no one was present.  One just went around the corner and looked around – nobody was there – snapped the stick in two pieces, came to the guru and said, “Here are your sticks.”  He took the sticks, and said, “Okay, sit down.”

Other one came after four or five hours, holding the same stick, and he just stood there with his head bowed to the ground.

The guru asked, “What happened?”

He said, “Babaji, no matter where I went, the wind was there, the sun was there, the directions were there.  And most of all, I was there.  So I couldn’t find a place where no one was present.”

Babaji was very pleased with this answer.  He said, “I got all the time for you.  Come, sit down.”   And to the other one he said, “Go have some chai.” *

The fact is, no matter where you are, you are the witness of your own life.  And you always know whether your actions are honorable, fair, or kind.  Only you know if you have done your best, and whether or not you have made a good choice.

When I am the only witness, what do I choose?   These choices are the most difficult, because there may be others who are trying to sway me, or there may be circumstances in which I can justify my decision, at least to others.  But I am always there as the witness.

What choices have been made in your life that were done “when no one was watching?” Would you make a different choice today?  You still can, even if it’s to take total responsibility for that other choice, and decide that you would choose differently today. Then when a similar choice comes, choose the one you know is right.

* This story was related by Baba Harihar Ramji of the Sonoma Ashram in Sonoma, California.  His stories are always thought-provoking, helpful and educational.  I learn a lot from listening.

About Davina

I am a retired teacher, writer and artist. This web site was set up for several reasons. First is to give people a chance to see my art work, and decide if there is something they like enough to contact me. Second is to present my ideas on education and life in general - anything that gets my attention. Feel free to comment in an intelligent manner.
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13 Responses to How Do You Live Your Life When No One Is Watching?

  1. Leah says:

    I believe that it’s important to adopt values and make preparatory decisions early on, before a situation arises. We can be the person we intend to become by living those values so that under adverse circumstances, we remain strong. There can be a peace associated with living this way that allows us courage to continue in the face of chaotic conditions, temptations, or suffering that the world throws our way. It won’t matter where we are, who we are with, or what is happening; important decisions and standards will have become a part of us beforehand.

  2. Teresa says:

    Nice story. Along the same lines…

    A wise man once said to me something like “We justify our worst actions.” And isn’t that the problem. These decisions we always make with our mind–and this mind is a tricky dog. Sometimes he is my best friend, and other times he bites me.
    This same wise man, ten years later, explained another facet of why I do things even I do not approve of. He said, “We do things (we might never do alone) because of our attachments, because we are trying to please others. Who is the One we should be trying to please?”


    • Davina says:

      I thought I replied to this, but it seems to have gotten lost… Yes, we do manage to justify all the stupid things we do, so we can be right. But at the core of it all is the ultimate guru – the higher Self, who knows. And when we become the witness, stay objective, and see ourselves clearly enough to know where we went off the rails, then we can manage to please that higher Self.

  3. Hello Davina,
    You’re doing very good work – keep it up.

    This is indeed a very important question – and will hopefully inspire all of us to further ponder this subject.


    • Davina says:

      Thanks, Peter. As I said in my opening blog, I am a teacher who still has teaching left in her, and I think this is a good way to do it! I appreciate your support.

  4. Ruben Rios says:

    I think it’s about morals. How we were each brought up. If one has a moral compass, that will guide him through difficult decisions, and around temptation. If we aren’t capable of feeling guilt, there’s nothing there to stop us from indulging in sin, regardless of who’s watching. “You only see with your eyes. You’re easy to fool.” [Jackie Chan in the “Karate Kid”]

    • Davina says:

      Yes, that’s so true, Ruben. True vision is what comes from within. And the real guru is the higher Self that always knows, even when the small self turns away and says, “I don’t see, I don’t know…”

  5. margo says:

    This is great… was just contemplating this question this weekend doing the Virtual Retreat with Andrew. I was thinking of how I dont always pay attention in the same way I do when there are physical others present and how important it is to do so… thank you for the remeinder!… love… Margo

    • Davina says:

      It’s so good to hear from you. And I know exactly what you mean. Being present is easy when one is alone, but as soon as there are other people about, it’s difficult to maintain the position of the witness, rather than rushing headlong into the middle of things. I’m sure you enjoyed the retreat with Andrew – he makes himself very accessible.

  6. Susan says:

    Good question, Davina. And sometimes, truly, NO ONE is watching, not even our ‘selves’. Good reflection on awareness.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Ms. Davina! I hope you have a lovely day filled with good thoughts.

  7. Katharine says:

    We do such a lot of things “for effect”, to impress others – would we do them if no-one is looking, only for ourselves? Is charity still charity if no-one is aware of it?

    Your posts are indeed thought provoking – it’s like looking up a word in a dictionary and getting sidetracked by another one nearby: half an hour later you’re still looking up words. So it is with your blog. You put up one topic and it leads to others and others. Ripples in a lake …

    Love and thanks


    • Davina says:

      Wow, Katharine, you really showed how deeply one can ponder such questions. As for charity, if no one knows, it’s probably the best charity – but if you do it so everyone knows, it’s self-serving. But again, the one person who knows all your intentions and inner motivations is the higher Self – the ultimate witness.

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