by Michael McGinnis
Insects are a lowly part of man's world, but they can still teach us useful lessons. Divine Spirit, or the ECK, spreads these small expressions of Soul around widely so many of us in the North can be taught by them, especially in the summer! Insects also taught me about smugness and taking things for granted when I taught in Africa.
Before I came to Africa I had never seen a cockroach. When I first saw them in my kitchen in Africa, I was disgusted by these darting, large, greasy-looking bugs. The body of the adult was over 2 cm long. They mostly came out at night, but could appear for a snack anytime. As an ECKist I realize that all living things are Soul, but my preference was for them to live their own lives, away from my kitchen.
I find that the ECK gives us the tools that we need to take the next step in spiritual growth. One of those tools was a little steel hammer I brought with me from Canada. Another was my tape recorder which played my favourite tape, "Abbey Road" by the Beatles. I enjoyed singing along to the songs. One night I went to the kitchen for a drink. Caught in the beam of my flashlight were cockroaches on the frame of the kitchen window. I had an inspiration suitable for the moment: I started singing a Beatles song, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". This is a funny song about a boy who hit people with a hammer, and was caught and tried for his actions. Maxwell's remedy for his problems with others was to hit them on the head with his hammer.
Apparently the cockroaches liked my singing — they didn't run away. But when I got to the line "Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer", where Maxwell hits someone, I swung my hammer and connected with the first roach on the window frame. The roach imploded quite spectacularly.
And were those roaches ever dumb! Another one was just sitting there, parked on the window frame, waiting for me to give an encore performance, with him as the next victim. I took my time. I started at the beginning of the song, to get the rhythm and enjoy another little moment of triumph over the roaches. Reaching the right moment in the song, I swung the hammer towards the roach still waiting for me. However, I didn't quite connect with the roach this time. I did manage to knock him flying into my sink.
This, I thought, was just about as good. The roach was trapped in the bottom of my kitchen sink. The sheer, slick, white sides made escape impossible! For the third time, I sang the little song, and swung the little hammer. This time, the roach dodged the hammer, and I learned something very interesting: my sink was made of porcelain, not steel. Strangely, time seemed to come almost to a stop when I felt the hammer going through, and not bouncing off, the bottom of the sink. I gather that the roach was able to make its escape through the new, roughly circular, ten centimetre hole in the bottom of my sink — the sudden appearance of the hole sent me into shock for a few minutes, so I neglected to track the roach's movements. But there was no small cockroach corpse lying on the floor amongst the 10 or so pieces of sink.
So what did this experience teach me? There are karmic consequences to aggression towards another Soul, including cockroaches. Relative size or seeming evolutionary advancement doesn't erase the law of karma. But the timing of the karmic reaction was also very helpful. Because my karma was worked out very quickly, I was able to see the connection between my action and the reaction that came back to me. This is one of the valuable gifts from the path of Eckankar — the ECK will often arrange events so you can more easily see cause and effect, by putting them close together in space and time. If a broken sink (which I also had to fix) was the price I had to pay to learn about responsibility for my aggression, it was worth it.