One thing that the pandemic has engendered for many people is a shift in focus from what I have or own, that is material things, to what I value in terms of relationships. They were put in the spotlight because everyone was cocooned with those relationships. For a smaller number perhaps, what came into even sharper focus was the primary relationship with the self. We discovered what resources we had to deal with a completely unprecedented set of circumstances. For some it heightened levels of stress, for others it highlighted abilities that had not been called on before. But for most, it required varying degrees of courage.
Courage is a quality of spirit and not a skill. It is easy to be courageous when I have wealth at my disposal, or a strong team of people around me, thinking in the same way. Real courage is the ability to face the self, deeply understand the self, which is the only way to be able to relate well with others. Without this knowledge of the self, we have expectations, demands, and a wish to control situations or other people, which is very violent energy. We need the courage to look at our attitude and see that the blame game is only a reflection of the pain we are feeling. We have to let go of the stories we tell ourselves to try and out-think and intellec-tualise what hurts us. The stories make us feel better for a time, but ultimately the stories will break down one day and we will have to face the uncertainty and instability at the root. Those stories are not who I am.
The first act of real courage is to open the door to the awareness of who I really am. To understand who I am at the core of my being. I am the extremely subtle, fluid life force, the soul. This is the energy that supports the functioning of the body. The more I meditate and experience the stream of this life force the more I experience the extremely subtle effect on my thinking. Thoughts are a component of the life force. The mind is only a function of the deeper life force of who I am. Real courage is to arrive at this quiet sense of consciousness. Such a soul is happier in their being, more relaxed and can conduct the affairs of their lives with no edge to their behaviour, no pushiness and with a quiet internal trust that makes things work out. It is like coming back home inside. Home in the sense of knowing the self, where there is clean stability, clear determination. Determination brings a sense of conviction to what I do, and that brings with it a successful conclusion. The more we meditate regularly, the simpler the journey becomes, until it is not a journey anymore. I am in that space, operat-ing from that space and then my life fundamentally changes — I am living from the inside out.
Gopi Patel is a Rajyoga teacher based at the Brahma Kumaris National Coordinating Office, London.
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ARE YOU A MASTER OF YOUR MIND?
Most of us are now aware of the mind-body connection. Think ‘tense thoughts’ and you will feel it physically in places like your shoulder muscles or perhaps an ache in the head. Think ‘worry thoughts’, and your stomach will send you a message asking you to stop. Think ‘fearful thoughts’ and you will notice ‘the pump’ in your chest, otherwise known as your heart, start to work overtime. So, it’s obvious that our minds need some attention. It is unfortunate for most of us that no one ever taught us how to think. The mind’s first requirement is a benevolent master (that is you) to help it to change the speed, quantity and the quality of thinking.
TEN PRACTICES TO MASTER YOUR MIND
Here are some ideas which may help you be a better master, guide and friend for your mind.
Over the next ten weeks take one practice and… practise!
1 THINK SLOWLY
Sit quietly and watch your self using your mind to think. Watch your self thinking. Watch thoughts arising. Now see if you can transfer your attention to the small spaces between your thoughts. As you do you will notice the spaces expand and the speed of your thinking will slow down. You will also start to ‘feel’ a profound inner peace.
2 THINK BRIGHTLY
Just as you turn up or down the brightness on your TV screen, see if you can do that with what you create on the screen of your mind. Turn up the brightness one moment then, in the next moment, let the thought fade away. But watch it all the way to ‘fade’! Notice your mind becoming quieter as it does.
3 THINK FOR THE BEST
It is almost impossible to halt the habit of thinking about the future. Besides, everyone else around us seems to be doing it almost all the time. So go with the flow of your thinking but practise turning any thoughts of a catastrophic future, in whatever context, into thoughts that are ‘anastrophic’. That means catch your self thinking ‘worry’ thoughts and practise replacing them with ideas and images that envision the best possible outcome. Cancel the old/unwanted and replace with a new vision! Do not just ‘want it’, just ‘think it’… without desire!
4 THINK RELEVANT
When you ‘think relevant’ you are thinking only about what you need to think about at any moment in whatever situation you are in. In other words, practise noticing when you become distracted by anything outside or inside, in the past or about the future. Gently return and start your mental focus on what is in front of you ‘in this moment’… again.
5 THINK HAPPY
What is a happy thought? Take a moment to reflect. Is it you forcing your self to believe you are happy and then creating thoughts out of that belief? It is not a bad experiment. Some say that with such a practice, over time, the ‘feelings’ of happiness start to arise naturally and all thoughts become imbued with a natural… happiness! It is a practice that, if nothing else, will help you to become more aware of the quality of your thinking. You will also start to see the thoughts that you are using to make your self feel unhappy! Clue? Watch out for external and internal influences on your thinking.
This is Part 1 of the article, the other five coming next week in Part 2.
Mike George is an author of 16 books on self-awareness, spiritual intelligence and personal undevelopment.
ONE WAY TO STOP OVERTHINKING
Overthinking has become a habit with a large number of people. How do we change it? We know the answers: see the good in others, not their faults; remain happy; do not speak ill of anyone; accept others as they are.
We need to practice just one of these to be free from overthinking. That is because they are all interconnected—start one practice and the others will naturally follow. For example, if we focus on the good qualities of other people and ignore their shortcomings, our mind will remain clean. When we do not see and think about anyone’s defects, the mind will not be coloured, or stained, by them. It is negative thoughts that cause overthinking. When we do not see other people’s weaknesses, there will be no reason to be angry, critical or judgmental about them. Acceptance will become easy, and we will have good wishes for them. When everything is good and positive, there will be nothing to forgive or forget. All these corollary benefits accrue from focusing on the good in others. We can start with one practice that we find easy and the others will follow without any extra effort on our part.
But how do we not see defects in others when they are clearly visible? The eyes see everything—the flaws of those we live and work with, and, through the phone and the television, the mistakes people across the world are making. None of that, however, should taint the mind and pollute our thoughts and feelings.
We can do an experiment —choose one conspicuous weakness in one person. Suppose someone you work with is unreliable and dishonest. You know they are like that but you have to work with them. It is one thing to know their defect and figure out a way to deal with them, but quite another to keep thinking about it —“What a dodgy character”, “He keeps lying….”
It is the nature of the human mind that negative thoughts cause overthinking. When we dwell on someone’s good qualities, the mind remains calm and there are few thoughts. But think about something you do not like in someone and there will be a long train of thoughts. That changes our perception and attitude towards them.
The more we think about another’s faults, the more negativity accumulates in the mind, and that depletes the soul’s power. The negative thoughts and feelings are reinforced when they are expressed in speech and behaviour. As the soul becomes weaker, overthinking and stress increase, irritation and jealousy are experienced more often. Imagine the harm we do to ourselves. The defect is someone else’s, but by repeatedly thinking about it we poison our mind, behaviour and personality and become weaker.
We are also not helping the other person by sending them unfriendly vibrations. The vibes will certainly not strengthen them, but instead make them weaker and prone to making more mistakes. Then we complain that the other person is getting worse, unaware of our role in bringing that about.
The solution is to have positive thoughts and send like vibrations. If someone is habitually careless, we can create the thought that they are responsible and accurate in their work, and see them with this positive attitude. The thought is not true at that point of time, but when sustained it will do wonders. First, it will protect us from negativity. Then it will send good vibes to the other person, giving them the energy and courage to get over their weakness. When people in a family or organisation create such supportive thoughts instead of focusing on others’ defects, they really bless each other, and the energy of blessings can uplift people and transform situations. The choice is ours: do we want to see defects and become weaker, or think and see only good in order to empower the self and others?
B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher.
One problem, one solution
Do you believe that the mountain-high pile of troubles that besets the world now, has one root cause, and even more, that there is one, simple solution—a solution that could reduce the whole mountain to the size of a molehill?
Something has gone missing in our man-made formulas for well-being. Something has slipped through the cracks, taking with it what is needed for the peaceful, happy existence we want for ourselves and the world. What is it that has gone missing? In my experience it is the loss of connection. Connection is what is missing. Disconnection is the problem; connection is the solution.
I am not talking about the connection between us. Although that has become problematic, it is not primary. Primary is the connection between myself and my inner world. Through the practice of Rajyoga meditation, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris, I discovered a ‘me’ that was permanently beyond all influences; a ‘me’ that danced in joy, peace, love, and power, always, whenever I connected with that ‘me’.
When we are disconnected from that part of ourselves — our spiritual identity—what is meaningful and important for life becomes less a practical experience and more an ideal, or an intellectual pursuit. When we remain disconnected in this way, we do not know, with the certainty of experience, the independent beauty that lies deep within. We research and talk a lot about such things, but it gets harder and harder to live accordingly. In this way we become careless and negligent of our own divinity. We disrespect our own goodness and godliness. So, it withers, like flowers in a garden that no one is tending to—eaten by the bugs of ego or parched through a drought of true self-love.
A recent sociological study says that our current state of social isolation – so damaging to the human spirit—did not begin with the pandemic. Being disconnected from our innermost selves and disrespecting the godliness within makes it very difficult to connect, or truly respect anyone else. It becomes a self-imposed isolation that is driving communities and even families further and further apart.
This internal negligence and disregard for the divinity of human nature has carried over to our relationships with Mother Nature as well. We act as if we are the only species on the planet and in our attempts to acquire, possess and control we have violated her basic laws. In return, we have the unprecedented state of environmental crises we are facing today.
So, what to do? We have to once again align ourselves with the great truths that go beyond what our physical senses can grasp. We need to understand these times of challenge as an invitation to connect to ourselves in new ways, a connection that can make blossom the seeds of divinity within each of us, as children of God.
We need to connect to God in new ways. God’s love, devoid of any neediness, is altruistic and the ultimate in respect and feelings of belonging, and is like water to the parched soul-garden. We need to experience God’s light of love, peace and joy, so that we can come back to our pure state of natural well-being.
Connecting is the first step. Second is the courage to come out of our comfort zones and transfer the beauty deep within into our everyday thinking, speaking and doing. We need to become givers, from the genuine abundance that is our Godly inheritance, and stop being takers. This will put a whole new vibration into the energy that keeps this planet spinning. This will move us all forward, out of humanity’s long night of winter, and into the dawn of its new day.
It is time to do something new; it is time to do something different. To realise the magic of love—love for ourselves, for God and then, for all our brothers and sisters—the whole world. This gives birth to hope. We truly are standing at a new beginning.
Sharona Stillerman coordinates the activities of the Brahma Kumaris in Israel.
LAW OF KARMA
I was walking on the way once. Someone from a behind me hit “Futt!! Futt!!” to my head. Looking back, he’s a maniac (mad).There by holding him, the people surrounding there suggested to me that, “you don’t let him go sir, hit him sir”. But I immediately let him free from them, and he simply left there.
I have never seen that mad man before. And I didn’t have any information about him. What is the relation between me and that mad person? Without any reason I was beaten by that unknown man! So this is the law of karma. In this birth he and I have may no introduction, acquaintance, no contact or may no relationship. Perhaps it is the calculation of the karma of our pre-birth, which had been completed on this day.
Many such accidental events one of the most common experiences in all of our lives.
The theory of karma or law of karma is very subtle. As well as the exact too. The role of everyone in the theatre of this world drama creation is precisely. But we must be have able to view it from a meaningful standpoint. This vast world is full of inequality. The poor, the rich, the deprived, the sick, the healthy, the homeless, the wealthy, the dull fanatics, the intelligent, the employed, the unemployed like this there are many inequalities in this vast world that which are commonly visible. Cause for all these inequalities mainly considered as only that creator supreme God. Who get always all the blaming, abuses, dispraise from all of us. That may be with or without reason. But virtually abusing the Holy Spirit god is futile and inappropriate. Because our present situations are the foundation of our past deeds. We are only responsible for the inequalities and conditions of our lives. In this, it is unreasonable to curse the Lord and to curse fate. We are only responsible for our current conditions.
Newton’s third law states “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. The reality is that our karma is not the only have reward or re-action. It is true that there is a response to our words, our every resolve or a thought and (vocation) emotion also. Sometimes our karmic account has also grown with animal, birds. For example, for any person when a dog accidentally bites on the way, it is necessary to know that the dog is being bitten by him. That is, he has tortured the animal ever before.
Some are born rich some others are born healthy. For some, literature, art, and singing have a tendency to be with birth. Some are virtuous with good attitude. Some are born blind. Some people have a disability from birth. Some people have good wealth but no health. Some are not have children at all. Some parents will have more trouble from their children itself. Some people just can’t get any kind of happy ness from any relation. For nine months mother faces so many difficulties and problems, then give a birth for child. But sometimes a child dies only in three days after giving birth. Every day we see many examples of such life.
Being born wealthy at birth is the result of his gift of past birth donation to people. If he was healthy, he would have built a hospital or a hospital for the benefit of the former or May treated the patients previously. If born blind or disabled as any other organ failure His eyesight or his organ failure should have caused others to suffer from that organ or should have been did evil act by that. If some birth with art, literature, sports, or other activities, it is the prerequisite sanskar of past deeds for their birth. That means, in the pre-birth period, there is much interested in particular field or may have don lot of efforts in that. If we do not get pleasure from any relatives, then that means we would not have given any pleasure to any relatives before. If we have money but do not have physical health, we would have donated money to needy but would not had don any good physical acts. If there is no child luck or if there are children but the children and parents are not happy, then we need to understand it is the karmic account between parents and children. If an infant was born in a very wealthy family and if not healthy. In the (ICU) intensive care unit, it live only four days and then died, even with billions of dollars will not able to keep baby alive. So it is a short-term karmic account of that infant, by taking a birth will get settled in four days and dies.
Thus the law of karma is very subtle, exact, deep and very intense. Seeing many such examples will definitely make us to belief in rebirth or in past births. When a newborn child who has not yet opened his eyes and is diagnosed with any serious sufferings, it can be said to be the result of his past birth act only. Here this does not mean that we only reap the fruits of pre-natal karma or pre births, even in this birth and for each and every karma will have its fruit.
Our karmic account does not only grow solely from physical organs performed by these bodies’ activities. The words we talk and the (vocation) emotion, the resolutions (thoughts) which generated through our mind is also grew. If the word is spoken inappropriately, and to others are hurtfully spoken, there is certainly will become karmic account. Likewise, every bad thought about someone in mind is also grows karmic account. If these are excessive, they can become dumb and suffer from mental illness.
First of all, we should have knowledge of Karm, Vikarm, Sukarm. Karma is a simple, essential work. Vikarm is the work done by the five Vices – (kam, krodh, lobh, moh, ahankar). Such as the Lust, Angry, Greed, Attachment, Ego-based thoughts, speech, action, vision and vocation (emotion). Sukarm is a noble karma, a work based on virtues. It is good to self and for others too. And Godly knowledge based unselfish thoughts, speech, act, emotions will be considered as divine work. our resolve, speech and karma Influencing environment also. Thousands of victims were killed from the tidal wave of tsunami. To say this is the calculation (karmic account) of that nature and those people who died, of course is not a wrong.
We do wrong and right with or without reason. If we are happy and it is inappropriate, condemn and reprehensible to look down on others when they are in distress. When in a bus stop when someone sees two legged disable person, of course everyone feel merciful to him. This will grieve the mind of any kind of butcher. It is inhumane to lash out that he is paying for his karma. We are all brothers and sisters to each other as we are the children of the Universal Sovereign supreme God. It is humanity and our primary duty to extend our help to our brothers and sisters.
Dear all, we are not able to fix any past time or past karma. Presently we have only our present time and our future in our hand. Doing good in the present, we will reap the rewards. We should be willing to do good deeds, and need to repentance for our sins and bad deeds.
So let our mind be pure, the vision be holy, karma be great. Let’s wish the best for everyone, good feeling and good wishes from the mind, talk sweetly through words, and let karma excellence in karma. Let us comes only in Karma relation not in Detention (attachment) of karma. If we want good things for everyone, it happens goodness. If evil is desired, it will be bad. So law of karma says, “how the seed, so the tree” and “how the karma, so the fruit”.
ABSOLUTE TRUTH IS A PERSON
The impersonal realisation of the Brahman effulgence is the indirect process of understanding the Absolute Truth and is considered a difficult path according to Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
The Vedic literature points out that God is both personal and impersonal. God’s impersonal aspect is called different names by different people. Generally, the impersonal aspect is known as the Brahman effulgence or brahmajyoti. A description of the Brahman can be found in various portions of the Vedic literature, including the Mundaka Upanishad (2.2.10-12) where it says: “In the spiritual realm, beyond the material covering, is the unlimited Brahman effulgence, which is free from material contamination. That effulgent white light is understood by transcendentalists to be the light of all lights. In that realm there is no need of sunshine, moonshine, fire or electricity for illumination. Indeed, whatever illumination appears in the material world is only a reflection of that supreme illumination. That Brahman is in front and in back, in the north, south, east and west, and also overhead and below. In other words, that supreme Brahman effulgence spreads throughout both the material and spiritual skies.”
To realize or attain entrance into the impersonal Brahman, one must practice yoga for many years without falling down from such strict practice. One must be celibate, chant the om mantra correctly, raise the life airs within the body to the top of the head, and leave the body while meditating on the Brahman. If one cannot void his mind of all sensual engagement and concentrate on the Brahman for hours at a time without agitation, one will not be successful. If one is successful, one can be liberated from material existence by merging into the Brahman, where there is eternity and knowledge. However, there is no real ananda or bliss there. The only pleasure in the brahmajyoti is the freedom from all material suffering. Some yogis think such pleasure, which may be felt on elementary levels of meditation, is a sign of reaching the final goal. But real ananda is found only in spiritual engagement. Without understanding this, one’s spiritual knowledge is incomplete.
The goal of the impersonalists is to merge into the Brahman effulgence, where they lose all of their individual characteristics. If they succeed, they remain there as an inactive spiritual spark, floating in the rays of the brahmajyoti. They do not develop a spiritual body that would give them the opportunity to engage in various spiritual activities because they do not know about such engagement that can be found on the spiritual Vaikuntha planets that exist within the Brahman effulgence. So, if they again have any yearning for engaging in activities, they cannot go upward to the spiritual planets because they are not qualified to do so. Thus, they are forced to seek shelter in the material world, where they start over again.
The problem is that it is our natural inclination to be active, always doing something. So if the soul is so active while within the material body, how can the impersonalist philosophers suggest that once we are liberated we will be completely inactive? This is not very logical. The Vedic literature states that once one has attained liberation and reaches the brahmajyoti, he will not stay there, but at some point he will again desire to return to the material world for engagement. Therefore, the brahmajyoti is not considered the highest form of spiritual liberation, although some so-called sages today speak of it as if it is.
Such impersonalist yogis or philosophers either do not know or simply reject the fact that beyond nirvana and the outskirts of the Brahman effulgence are the Vaikuntha planets of the spiritual sky. Thus, due to their ignorance, or even rebelliousness against God, they concentrate only on the impersonal Brahman. One can enter that region by the difficult, mechanical yoga process for controlling the mind, but cannot go any higher. Just as a person cannot escape the material world if he still has material desires, he cannot enter the spiritual planets if he is still absorbed in thinking of the void. In this way, such people are unable to enter into the spiritual life of complete eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Therefore, the idea of achieving spiritual liberation by merging into the Brahman effulgence is considered the process of a cheating religion. Why it is considered this is that it destroys the opportunity for people to reestablish their loving relationship with the Supreme. This is confirmed in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi.1.92): “The foremost process of cheating is to desire to achieve liberation by merging in the Supreme, for this causes the permanent disappearance of loving service to Krishna.” Therefore, those who have reached mature spiritual realization look upon merging into the Brahman effulgence as a great mistake.
The impersonal realization of the Brahman effulgence is the indirect process of understanding the Absolute Truth and is considered a difficult path according to Bhagavad-gita. “But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, fixed and immovable–the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth–by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed toward everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me. For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the supreme advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Bg.12.3-5)
By realizing this impersonal Brahman, one only realizes the bodily effulgence of the Absolute. In other words, the all-pervading spiritual force has a source. This is clearly described in the Caitanya-caritamrita, (Adi.2, 5 & 15):
“What the Upanishads describe as the impersonal Brahman is but the effulgence of His body, and the Lord known as the Supersoul is but His localized plenary portion. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna Himself, full with six opulences. He is the Absolute Truth, and no other truth is greater than or equal to Him. The opulence’s of the impersonal Brahman spread throughout the millions and millions of universes. That Brahman is but the bodily effulgence of Govinda [another name of Krishna].”
The fifteenth and sixteenth mantras of the Isa Upanishad also acknowledge that from the personal body of God comes the rays of the Brahman effulgence: “O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Please remove that covering and exhibit yourself to your pure devotee. O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind–please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.”
From these verses it is clear that without going beyond the Brahman effulgence, one cannot see the real form of the Supreme. If one reaches the stage of realizing the Brahman and becomes convinced that he has attained the Ultimate, then he does not have complete understanding or full realization. He still must go further until he has reached the source of the Brahman, which, according to the Isa Upanishad, is the Supreme Personality.
Since the Brahman effulgence is considered to be but one of the opulences of the Supreme, it should be understood that whenever the Vedic texts speak of Brahman, they are indicating the Supreme Personality of God. In fact, it is stated that in the Vedic literature the word Brahman means, “in whom all the attributes reach to the infinity.” In this way, it is clear that Brahman primarily means the Supreme Person, of whom the Vedic literature is full of descriptions of various aspects of His infinite qualities and characteristics. The Caitanya-caritamrita clearly states: “The word ‘Brahman’ indicates the complete Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is Sri Krishna. That is the verdict of all Vedic literature.” (Cc.Madhya-lila, 6.147)
The Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi.7.112) also explains that, “Everything about the Supreme Personality of Godhead is spiritual, including His body, opulence and paraphernalia.
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, purnam idam purnat purnam udacyate: “Although He expands in many ways, He keeps His original personality. His original spiritual body remains as it is.” Thus, we can understand that God can expand His energies in many ways, but is not affected or diminished in His potency.
The Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.6) also states: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original person, has multifarious energies. He is the origin of material creation, and it is due to Him only that everything changes. He is the protector of religion and annihilator of all sinful activities. He is the master of all opulences.” This verse specifically points out that only due to God’s multi-potencies does the world continue to change and be maintained. He also protects religion, which could not be done if He were impersonal. This is only logical since it takes a person to watch over, protect, or maintain anything.
In the Katha Upanishad (2.2.13), there is the important verse nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: “He is the supreme eternally conscious person who maintains all other living entities.” From these descriptions in the Vedic texts, we can clearly understand that God is the Supreme Person who is the source of everything and controller of all. This Supreme Person is the Absolute Truth, as confirmed in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi.7.111): “According to direct understanding, the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has all spiritual opulences. No one can be equal to or greater than Him.”
Since it is established in the Vedic texts that the Absolute is a person, then meditating on the personal form of God rather than the impersonal feature is the highest form of meditation. This is verified in Bhagavad-gita (12.2): “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: ‘He whose mind is fixed on my personal form, always engaged in worshiping me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by me to be the most perfect.’”
Herein, we can understand that realizing the absolute truth in the form of the Supreme Person is much easier and much more attractive than struggling to merge into the great white light of the brahmajyoti. By understanding the Supreme Personality, all other aspects of the Absolute, such as the Brahman effulgence and Paramatma or Supersoul, are also understood. In fact, those who are absorbed in Brahman realization can easily become attracted to understanding the Supreme personality as did such sages as Sukadeva Gosvami and the Kumaras as noted in Srimad-Bhagavatam
Gaurangasundar das is IskconInc Communication Director and SM IT head
CONTENTMENT BRINGS MANY REWARDS
We see a lot of people who have everything they need or want. However, contentment eludes them!
Contentment is a virtue that is often misunderstood. It is erroneously assumed to be passivity, laziness or something meant for spiritual people or those with low levels of motivation or few skills to succeed in life. In reality, contentment is not passivity, complacency or a false sense of peace.
Contentment is being mentally or emotionally satisfied, both within and without, with circumstances as they are. It is a willingness to accept circumstances, whatever they might be.
This attitude creates positive feelings of peace, calm, and happiness. In everyday life, a contented person is focused on the work at hand, and is relaxed. A contented state of mind produces faith in the self and self-respect, and gives us the conviction that all will be well, no matter what. As a result, our efficiency improves. A discontented person tends to fret over trifles. They may reach their goals; however, given their unsettled state of mind, they end up expending more energy to achieve their results.
Developing contentment takes practice. There might be aspects of my life that are wanting. Instead of brooding on the perceived lacunae, I can reflect on, appreciate, and further develop what I have. In this way I can create and sustain feelings of contentment and joy. This will enhance the quality of my thoughts, relationships, and work, and help me recognise that contentment is independent of my circumstances.
We see a lot of people who have everything they need or want. However, contentment eludes them; they lack inner peace and happiness. Some of the factors that stop us from being content are:
Comparing myself with others: No matter how successful I am, there will always be someone who has more than me. It could be more wealth, a better personality, more friends, or a vibrant social life. Forgetting that there will always be someone better off than me in some respect gives rise to envy. Constant thoughts of ‘why does he have more’ or other versions of this generate subtle, negative feelings of jealousy, resentment or dislike. In some cases, lack of contentment can make me submissive to others, which can be quite damaging to my self-respect. Parents never experience discomfort over the successes and good fortune of their children. Why? Because of love. The more I appreciate others, the easier it is for me to avoid envy.
Complaining about the self: Pessimism about the self will not let me grow. We do not need to look far to find someone worse off than us. But we seldom give much thought to all that we are blessed with. Having gratitude for all the things I have, helps to foster within me love for God and the recognition that I need to be more considerate towards those who are less fortunate than me.
It is said that the poorest man in the world is the one who has more than he needs, but feels that it is not enough. Material attainments do not bring lasting satisfaction. As soon as one desire is fulfilled, another is on its way. Learning to be happy with my circumstances even, as I work towards something better, ensures that no matter how long it takes to reach my goals, I enjoy who I am and what I have. It also saves me from greed, which can tempt me to use the wrong means to get what I want.
Practising contentment brings many other virtues. I become more patient, tolerant, sweet, and graceful. I am also able to face challenges with fortitude, adjust to different kinds of people and situations, and accept failures.
Contented souls are also a source of subtle support for others. Such are their vibrations that they can lift the spirits of a gloomy person just by their presence.
Regular practice of meditation, wherein I look within and recognise what I, the soul, really need, enables me to find and hold my contentment as a precious possession.
B.K. Geeta is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.
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