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  • Writer's pictureSona Parmar

The Sea of Merit

Trawling YouTube one evening, I came across some advice for insomnia from a Buddhist monk.

By making a list of my good deeds before I went to sleep, I could fall asleep in “Sea of Merit” and wake refreshed and happy.

Sounded like a good idea. Problem was, I didn’t have that many good deeds. Sure, I do nice things for my kids or patients, say, but I wouldn’t exactly consider those good deeds. It’s not exactly donating a kidney.

So given that my new challenge was to make a list every evening, I spent my day thinking of nice things I could do. There was a day that we baked 103 peanut butter cookies (my kids counted, of course) and four dozen banana, oatmeal muffins before unceremoniously delivering them to nearby friends. It didn’t take half as long as I thought, but it also wasn’t as satisfying.

And then I heard a statement that made me laugh: no good deed goes unpunished.

To quote George Gurdjieff, “when you give something to a man, or do something for him, the first time he will kneel and kiss your hand; second time, he takes his hat off; third time, he bows; fourth time, he fawns; fifth time, he nods; sixth time, he insults you; and seventh time, he sues you for not giving him enough." I doubt this what that monk was thinking of, and yet such was human nature. For better or worse, we tend to take things for granted.

The word often used is habituation, that we unconsciously desensitise ourselves to avoid sensory overload. Staring at the wonder that is a moving automobile, every single time, would get a little tedious.

But I digress.

Back to the good deeds. To do or not to do?

Obviously, the answer is to do – but perhaps in a random fashion, to avoid the unfavourable effects that Gurdjieff laments. Also, I only have the one kidney.

So as I contemplated all this and returned home one fine afternoon, I found a large green bag hanging on my gate. It contained four boxes of brownies. I still have no idea where these came from, but they were delicious.

I guess you could say, what goes around, comes around.

Happy days.

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