Clearing and Centering
GWP Puneet Sodhi
Leaving Footprints on the Sands of Time:
I am not writing the life story of my friend Allan…nor am I familiar with his biographical details…where he was born, his parentage, his siblings and all. Do you need to know all this about a person to ‘know’ him really?
What do I know about Allan after all that I feel like sharing my ‘special knowing’ with the readers? Is it important to articulate that I met him on the Face book about five years back…that I have never met him in person…or have talked to him on phone only once in all these years of our acquaintance…or that I find his tweets, quotations and essays invaluable as far as my Spiritual quest is concerned?
Well, I think I am not going to do anything of this sort….
I am not going to analyze his essays or his writings either, which lie beautifully and meticulously arranged at thetwinpowers.com, his website, nay, the labor of his ‘Love’…his living and pulsating effort to pass on the legacy of his larger than life experiences with all those who have an urge to know the ‘Unknown’.
I wish to celebrate my friend through this humble attempt of mine, for his commitment to humanity is extraordinarily profound!
The underlying imploration and the effortless energy in his words speak of his dedication to his cause, that of doing his ‘part, in this lifetime’ as ardently as he can. The amount of wisdom he churns out daily, remind me of a Natural Spring, bringing forth sparkling gushes of pure water promising to quench the thirst of travelers walking in the deserts of Life, looking for oasis in the middle of their journey towards Self realization…
…and these thirst driven travelers are not disappointed as they savor sips from the source of his Nectar!
His answers are clear.
His concepts are captivatingly comprehensible.
His religion is the religion of ‘Self Discovery’.
His place of worship lies not outside, trapped in walls of brick and mortar but inside the vibrating Cosmos of the ‘Inner Self’.
He believes that there are myriad paths leading to the same Truth, and he endeavors to bring as many such paths to the forefront, as he can through his own writing or through his interactions with the people on similar tracks. He has created an almost worldwide platform through his website, where, seekers from varied ideologies get helpful theoretical as well as practical approaches to move further on their journeys. Ideas are generated and pooled here for the benefit of all those who wish to tread on this trail.
He acknowledges that humongous amount of esoteric knowledge from ancient as well as present day sources is available to the modern man due to technological revolution and yet entreats at the need to be judicious so as not to be overwhelmed by the problem of the plenty. Related to all this, emerges one of the most powerful tools he advocates to sharpen one’s Spiritual Selectiveness and acumen and that is his strong advocacy on the doctrine of MINDFUL AWARENESS!
The cultivation of conscious Mindfulness, according to him helps in clearing the clouded imagination or the blurred half truths.
For those who believe in the theory of Reincarnation and Rebirth, living in complete Mindfulness is extremely important if they wish to regulate their future births.
Spiritual Concepts, according to him have no scope of being grasped in a chaotic or an indistinct manner, but to be followed in accordance to a set discipline… the same discipline that has been governing the laws of Physics, Chemistry or the whole Cosmos since the Ancient Big Bang Theory!
Allan advocates Meditation for self evolvement. Through his writing, it becomes apparent that he has spent long hours in contemplative as well as passive Meditation. His message, as I have been able to decode through some of our text chatting is that he does not emphasize on set techniques of meditation. According to him, Meditation is not a technique, it is just the condition of ‘passing or sliding into Meditative State’ effortlessly…a state when you are not the doer, but become an effortless and non judging observer, although you might need certain hints to reach this state. You just become Mindfully Aware Non Judgmental Witness of the whole Cosmos! Personal and Spiritual Growth, according to him are not pursuits which can be followed by treading on some set guidelines or a strict regime. They are unlike the courses offered in Educational institutions, where passing certain exams or writing assignments would take you to higher level, as this growth does not have levels in a fixed vertical pattern, for our Minds are unique and they do not have the “structure” which is required for our Arithmetic or Language classes. Here, different approaches work for different people. The destination is the same but the vehicles different people are riding to reach there have different speeds and different mechanisms. The choice of the vehicles is purely personal…nothing right or wrong whether people prefer to use supersonic jet planes or bullock carts!
Our understanding of the Super Consciousness grows surely and certainly when we decide to move and as our Awareness begins to sharpen, we start finding more balance and attunement with the Cosmos. Then the Cosmos starts responding and our conversations with it become more alluring and engaging than any other worldly interactions!
Allan’s work on diverse aspects of Spirituality, be it the discussion on Energy Fields, Forms of Ego, Exercises in Meditation, Esoteric experiences, Blending of the Natural and the Super Natural or bringing in a balance between the Personal and Spiritual Growth, is simply amazing and methodical to an almost magical degree! How a human can do so much in a limited span of time is miraculous and that too with the balance of an unperturbed Consciousness which, to me is beyond the normal human capacity and insight! Whatever he has produced so far and is constantly engaged in doing every moment of his life has the resonance of a beautifully organized Modern Scripture!
…and what do I know about Allan? Practically not much as compared to his vastness and immensity!
Whenever I try to visualize him the following picture picked up from the Face book smiles back at me, beckoning me to walk along and ‘do what we can’ in this lifetime to give a meaning to our existence…to try to assist and welcome those who are also keen to walk along!!!
…and lots remain unspoken about Allan, as ‘Allans’ cannot be confined to a few hundred words! They are much more than the precincts of any human language!
© 2017 Puneet Sodhi
Since Time Immemorial
The Ajanta Ellora Caves…Are they Merely Tourist Spots?
In the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century, 1819 AD to be precise, a British army Officer, John Smith, accidently came across the astounding Ajanta caves, while he was on a tiger hunting expedition with his Army mates. Standing on a high cliff looking for a prey, he cited something extraordinary, in fact so astonishing that it has now come to be regarded as the Masterpiece of Buddhist Religious Art by UNESCO and declared as world heritage site. His eyes fell on one of the entrances of around thirty rock cut caves, which had so far been hidden from the view because of the dense vegetation of the jungle where they lay embracing a rich religious heritage for centuries together.
Ajanta caves are located on one side of a stony precipice that is on the northern side of a U- shaped gorge on a small river called Waghur in the Deccan plateau in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, about sixty five miles from Aurangabad. They attract thousands of tourists from all over the world. But are they merely tourist spots or authentic records of a very advanced theology of that era?
I always had a deep desire to visit these mystic caves and got a chance to go to Aurangabad a couple of years back, fortunately in the company of our Spiritual Master, who made our trip extremely worthwhile through his perspicacity and Spiritual acumen.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves are quite distant from the humdrum of cities even today, after thousands of years of their formation. History tells that they were constructed in two phases, the first one started in the 2nd Century BC by Buddhist monks as they used to take retreat in them in the Monsoon season or during the winters, when they were not able to travel around much. Our Guru Ji told us that these monks must have indulged into the creativity of carving these out of the world sculptures as a Spiritual technique of practicing ‘Mindfulness’ as working with such precision, as is found in their artwork, depicting lifetimes of Buddha with chisels, hammers or colors can take you a long way in perfecting the art of living in advanced ‘Awareness’. The caves are located at a side from the main road, situated among winding hills, waterfalls and walls of thick trees and remain elusive although you reach quite close to their proximity.
Ellora is further sixty two miles from Ajanta and should not be covered in a single day in order to do justice to their majesty and grandeur. As you climb the stone steps at Ajanta, you see a long line of multiple caves. We hired a local guide, who told us that when these caves were excavated for the first time, they were all stuffed with mud and overgrown with bushy trees. It appeared as if somebody had deliberately filled them with sludge. They are incredible for their unparalleled art work which enthralls the onlookers in the form of minutely detailed paintings and stone sculptures, all crafted with superhuman meticulousness. It is surprising then, why they were kept hidden?
Our Guru, Saint Sukh Sagar Ji explained that these caves must have been formed as pieces of what he referred to as ‘Objective Art,’ not for the others but for the monks, who created them for themselves. By ‘Objective Art’, I understood that the carvings and paintings were not made by obsessive people, implying that they were carved to achieve the highest form of ‘Ananda’- the bliss only as a meditative activity. They just enjoyed this ‘divine’ game of creativity. Many of the caves are incomplete. They could have been completed if the monks had so desired. After all, they must haveworked as huge teams; this humongous work cannot be the handiwork of few artisans. Maybe their purpose was to create as much as they wanted to…a very high stage in Spirituality…when the artist is creating not to ‘finish’, but to enjoy the course of doing …the dancer is dancing not for an audience but for the accomplishment of the self….They must have created these masterpieces when their exuberance was at its peak and that climax in their Spiritual experience did not demand any appreciation from the outside world. It must have been the explosion of their spiritually spirited pinnacle.
Probably it was just a game for them to create as much as they desired, and when that desire was consummated, they left their work unfinished to move to the next stage of divinity. Had they been obsessive with their creation, they would have delegated others to complete their unfinished work. Going by the intense vibrations of the milieu, I could feel that completion was not the objective of those Bhikshus–the Buddhist seekers, indicating a higher level of perception and purpose associated with those art forms.
The overwhelming vibes of the place cannot be missed. Each and every part of the caves is mesmerizing. I repeat that it is not a tourist place…it is a spot where you just go and feel the ‘Oneness’ with the Universe by sitting inside or outside, wherever you wish to and get immersed into the Aura which, like a strong magnet just takes you in and is ready to unfold the untold mysteries if you are ready to surrender yourself completely!
The artists could not have been ordinary people…the expressions on the paintings or the sculptures or the symbols attached with every single carving are a complete lesson in Spirituality. There is a singular pious fragrance attached to every single corner of each cave. You cannot just click pictures of the surroundings to move on to the next compartment without being enthused with its splendor or without sensing the higher rationale of why they were created.
In one of the early caves, I remember a painting showing the new born Buddha taking seven steps. The local guide said that infant Buddha was not an ordinary baby and that is why he took seven steps immediately after he was born. Our Guru offered its interpretation in a totally different manner. Those, who are into the field of mysticism, will definitely understand this explanation. There are different planes or levels of our existence in this universe. When Buddha was born, he was already at the Seventh plane of his existence; hence symbolically that painting depicts him to be seven steps ahead of the common humanity. How could an artist, unaware of this ‘knowledge’ compose this painting? The monks, who could show this kind of conception through their work, were certainly a group of achieved souls.
In one of the caves, we came across some pillars, which were made of very porous stone. If you touched them with your hands, they produced a melody, again matchless in its quality to soothe your entire being. Those columns or pillars burst into the softest of musical notes even when touched by breeze. The experience was exhilarating…tender…and highly elevating. I wonder, if my words can ever justify the ‘Unspeakable ’calm of the vicinity!
As you move forward into this numinous environment, a marvelous statue shows Buddha lying, just before he died. It is a long sculpture. Sitting by its side, when your body and mind become silent, you can even today feel how Buddha must have renounced his physical body to become one with the Higher Energy. Breathing there, helps you to grow spiritually- to flow with the Universe- to reunite with your innate self, which though never was lost actually, yet kept you in a big delusion that you were lost!
Almost each cave has a hall apparently for mass meditation and smaller units for individual meditation. Years of mass meditation rebounds in each stone and echoes in every pillar. There is no provision of electricity even today and light is supplied by placing mirrors at certain angles to reflect the Sunlight. In the evening, the caves are closed to the visitors as well as the seekers. Not surprising, this place is visited by thousands of people from all over the world to simply admire the art work or to mingle with the waves of the endless ocean, which invites one to take a plunge!
In the company of our Guru, which helped us to shed many superficial layers of our worldly garbs, we sat in the silence of the little domes which are in abundance there. The serenity is striking, the sound of the stillness is captivating and you slide into meditative state effortlessly… your body passes into nothingness, energy levels mount high and the ringing sound of the Universe surrounds you. You actually feel the Celestial rain all over the place. It is all an extremely sublime experience to sit and meditate in those vibes, where the monks must have meditated for hours, days, months and years together. The transcendental atmosphere envelops you with a mysterious hum strong enough to transport you into an advanced level of ‘Being’.
These caves offer you the amazing experience that you are one with the cosmos…or the cosmos is one with you…animate as well as the inanimate objects pulsate with the same energy and there are no ‘Two’. There is no differentiation between the ‘living’ and the ‘non living’ except for the level of active consciousness, and that too keeps evolving at its own speed in either case, as our Revered Guru elucidated.
My journey to these caves reinforced my belief that since times immemorial, the whole creation is striving to come back to its Mool, or the Base, to achieve that state of Mind, where it is not vacillated by uncontrolled thoughts, emotions or tossed up and down by waves of joys or sorrows of human existence; and to attain the ‘Divine Stillness’ as well as the ‘Ultimate Tranquility’ which are the characteristics of its Root…its Maker…if at all the Creator and the Creation are ‘separate’!
© 2017 Puneet Sodhi
My heartfelt gratitude to Saint Sukh Sagar Ji, who initiated in me the urge to ‘know’ my Roots, special thanks to my friend Allan Beveridge, who has always been motivating me to walk along this beautiful path, and my husband Amarbir, who has made this journey amazing by always being on my side!
Saint Sukh Sagar Ji
Puneet and Amarbir
Spiritual Musings - Part 6
Be Fair In Your Dealings
Learning to live in acceptance mode was not easy in the beginning…there were instances when I would fall a victim to self-pity, complain and sorrow. However, gradually, I started becoming aware of the damage such episodes could cause to my journey towards the Self and prompted me to recognize the importance of living in the surrender mode perpetually. Once I embraced this idea wholeheartedly, my sailing in the life’s ocean became smoother. My vision became broader and I could find more occasions to smile. Now I could term myself as “Rasik Bairagi”, a beautiful term given by Saint Sukh Sagar ji- implying that you must live this life fully, with complete Mindfulness, enjoying it to the bits and at the same time be ready to give it all when it is so required, without the slightest tinge of pain. “Rasik” is a word which stands for a person who is totally engrossed in the surroundings- in the life in its entirety, while “Bairagi” denotes one, who is completely above all the attractions of this mundane existence!
“You must learn to live with your attachments with total detachment”, said Swami ji during one of my interactions with him. It may sound paradoxical but this is the only way to lead a balanced life. It does not mean running away from your worldly responsibilities. On the contrary, you do a better justice to your duties with such a state of mind. You work with a single-minded devotion to do justice to your accountabilities without being unduly perturbed by the results or the outcomes. You have lesser distractions, your logical power is enhanced and you continue tackling the life situations actively, though with a “passive’ mind, i.e. your mind becomes less noisy and lets you deal with the problems minus facing unwanted hurdles created by an unsure thought process.
Living an unconditionally happy life is the first and the foremost condition to advance towards Spirituality according to Reverend Saint Sukh Sagar Ji. Other than this, he outlines three more major steps towards the attainment of the ultimate Bliss. Now, it was time for me to move on to the next step in Spirituality. The second lesson taught to me by him was being honest and fair in all my dealings.
To be fair in all your dealings encompasses a vast range of areas. One must be honest in the financial transactions, to start with the list. If you borrow money from someone, be it from your closest kin, it is your moral duty to return it as soon as you can. The amount may be enormously big or ridiculously low, it does not matter. If by chance, you are incapable of returning the amount, talk about it to your creditor and find out some viable solution. By no means should you just choose to ignore the matter, even if the creditor does not remember it. This practice is very uplifting for Spirituality even if it seems and sounds like something “very worldly and mundane”. Swami Ji is of the opinion that your Spirituality has deep roots in all your actions. You must walk about in this world with a clean conscience. When your mind is free from guilt feelings, your inward journey becomes easier. In fact you cannot climb the ladder to Spirituality with a “laden heart.”
If you are selling some commodity or a skill, you must fix its price. It would be all right to sell something at double the price if you declare the price openly and express your intention of doing so. In this way, you are giving a chance to the buyer to purchase that product from you or from somewhere else, after comparing its price in the market. However, charging “hidden” prices from the gullible client after luring the person with a lower price tag would be totally unfair. You have all the rights to earn as much money as you desire, but do it ethically.
It is not only in the financial transactions that you need to be upright and honest. In fact you need to be fair and candid in each and every action of yours. Keeping up promises, however big or small, also comes under the second principle underlined by Swami Ji. He told me that the best judge of your honesty, sincerity and uprightness is you, yourself. His favorite quote is, “You may recover if you fall from a great height, but if you fall in your own eyes, there is no getting up.” These words by him always resound deep down in my consciousness now, in all my dealings with the outside world or within my own self. He went on to say that if you make a promise with someone, it becomes your religious duty to fulfill it. “Don’t enter into false commitments if you are not sure of honoring them,” he warned. Now this commitment can again be as small as making a phone call or entering into a lifelong partnership! The key factor is “honoring” and not the “degree “of the obligation.
I reflected on the wisdom of what he was saying and realized that all this could be followed only if you are living in a state of complete Mindfulness and Awareness. “Anything you do with Mindfulness would be fair as your awakened mind never allows you to drift into deceitfulness”, he endorsed. I can feel the applicability of this tip valid in all the spheres of life. In fact sometimes, I smile at myself, when consciousness jolts me even when I am being unfair to myself by breaking my diet plan, although nobody is watching me…
Being “fair in your dealings” resultantly strengthens the conscious Mindfulness, which slowly but definitely leads to the truth that we are actually formless Spiritual beings, on a sojourn on this Earth in assigned forms or bodies. By following these simple principles outlined by Saint Sukh Sagar Ji, one can practically find oneself shedding even indiscernible forms of guilt and remorse which undeniably impede one’s Spiritual growth.
Closely related to this norm of being fair in your dealings, is the concept of rising above expectations. I vividly remember that once some family friends brought some gifts for me from their trip abroad. I was visibly very happy and excited and showed those gifts to Swami Ji. He smiled and praised my little possessions but at the same time asked me a question whether those knick- knacks gifted to me by my friends had stirred expectation in my mind that I would receive presents from them in future also?
Now, exchanging gifts with your loved ones and acquaintances can seem to be a very harmless transaction, but when you are on Spiritual path, you need to be watchful as to what feelings accompany the action of such a “give and take”! Let me elaborate on this aspect a little bit more. When I receive a gift, normally two feelings are generated in my mind- first how I am going to reciprocate and what I would gift the person back so that my gift looks better than what I received! (Subtle forms of ego surface here), and secondly, an expectation is born in my mind as to what would my friend bring back for me from the next trip? Not only that, most of the times we start making mental calculations and comparisons as to what other friends will bring! Many times, we end up in being caught in an intricate web woven by us alone even without our realizing so. In our day to day routine life, we do not pay any heed to such mental calculations, but these do take a toll on our transcendental progress.
“Does it mean that we should stop the exchange of gifts?” I asked Swami ji in a complaining tone as if he was threatening to snatch away this custom from me which I always had cherished. (Here, I must add that by now I had developed a relationship with him that was as close as the bond between a parent and a child and felt comfortable sharing all my doubts and curiosities with him). He laughed heartily at my childlike disappointment and said, “You can, but learn to do so without any judgment or anticipation. Receive or give a gift just for the sheer joy of doing so, without attaching any further story or attachment to it”. He explained the role of mindfulness in this regard also. With constant practice, your awareness level goes on increasing; you will realize the importance of following these small but important codes of social conduct, which have deep impact on your Mystical quest.
Ruminating, I can see the relevance of every single advice given to me by him. It feels as if I have shed tons of unwanted trash I was carrying- of heavy judgments, of countless obligations and of baseless stories which were constantly weighing me down. I am now progressing ahead with light feet and a song in my heart on a journey towards the attainment of Heavenly Bliss!
Puneet Sodhi (Assciate Professor of English)
Previous - Part 5 ====> Living In Acceptance Mode (Tera Bhaana Meetha Laage)
Next - Part 7 ====> Acquiring Mindfulness
© 2015 Puneet Sodhi
Spiritual Musings - Part 7
It had been over a year now since I had started learning from the Ocean of mystical knowledge, Reverend Saint Sukh Sagar Ji. I could see positive changes in myself and was able to trace and keep in check the waywardness of my Mind in a better manner than before. I was trying sincerely to imbibe the norm of ‘Unconditional Happiness’ in my life. Our vacations had become more fulfilling. First, we used to go for holidays, in a hope to find rejuvenation, but came back more tired…sapped of our energy. Now, however, the whole concept of holidaying changed for us. We did not necessarily, have to spend fat sums of money to “buy” happiness from home or abroad…we could find it knocking right at our doors. Every occasion was now an occurrence for celebration…. Every dish cooked in our kitchen was sumptuous enough to please even the Royal taste buds! Each bush, shrub or a blossom outside seemed as if belonging to the proverbial Garden of Eden, and to our surprise, we started receiving hundreds of winged guests in our courtyard, which we perhaps had never noticed before! Yes, our household was loaded now, with beautiful shades of joy, melodious songs of the myriad colored birds and fragrances of desirable delicacies! The world had not changed…it was still going on with its successes, failures, joys and sorrows, but our perception to all this had definitely changed. And my humble admittance- I was thoroughly enjoying the changed landscape of my Life!
After implementing the first two ideologies to remain “unconditionally happy” and “to be fair in my dealings”, my Guru led me on to follow the next Code of conduct, which was equally important to take my Spiritual journey ahead. It was to enhance my “LEVEL OF MINDFUL AWARENESS”. I have mentioned about this Principle in my earlier chapters also, but mastering this art was a rigorous training .Swami Ji referred to this practice as living in constant “SIMRAN”. By this he did not mean the repetition of any hymns or prayers. By “SIMRAN”, he meant mastering one’s consciousness level…living constantly in total.
“Every person, in order to tread on the Spiritual path, must learn to live in perfect Mindfulness and total awareness, “he explained. This Mindfulness should become such a compulsive habit that it be exercised all the times-walking, talking, eating, drinking, working, singing, sleeping and even doing nothing…!
During one of conversations with him, the topic turned to the concept of ‘Sin’ and ‘Virtuousness’. The explanation he gave, was an altogether novel idea for me as he went on to the extent of saying that anything, which is done without Mindfulness, is a sin and an act which is undertaken with total Awareness, is virtuous. It made sense to me. If one is ever watchful and remains in constant Mindful awakening, one can never indulge in any wickedness outwardly or inwardly, so no question of committing any sin! No awakened person can ever commit any such deed which will be injurious or spiteful to a fellow creature. If ever an awakened person has to raise arms against someone, it would be purely for one’s own defence; that too if the other party is bent upon causing harm. The intension, in this case will also be self-protection and not any kind of vindictiveness, because, an awakened person knows no maliciousness, no ill will!!!
In order to make me understand as to how to grasp this idea of living in Mindfulness, Swami ji asked me some simple questions, which I am conscripting here:
Pointing at my hand he said, “Is this hand YOURS or YOU are this hand?”
“Of course this is MY hand…this is obviously not ME.”
“Is this YOUR head or YOU are this head?"
“Well, this is MY head… this is certainly not ME”
“Will YOU still be there if your hand or foot is taken away from YOU?” he asked me looking at me very
“Yes, I will be there if my hand or foot or fingers or ears or eyes are taken away from me,” I replied
“Have you ever thought if you are not your body parts or BODY, then who are YOU? You are not your mind either as the same laws apply to your mind also, i.e., your mind is YOURS and YOU are not MIND! WHO THEN ARE YOU?”
I tried to find answer to this apparently simple question. Well, the answer was not as simple as the question was!
I was not MY NAME…
I was not MY STATUS OR PROFESSION…
I was not MY BODY…
I was not MY MIND either….
And still there was something which was totally ALIVE in me, speaking of its PRESENCE above the BODY
“Recognizing this PRESENCE and living in its BEING is MINDFULNESS,” he told me.
This discussion took place, while we were trekking a mountain in the lower ranges of the magical Himalayas…
I was feeling breathless because of the exertion and needed to stop occasionally…
“Know mindfully that it is YOUR BODY, which is feeling tired and not YOU”.
That was the first time, when I became consciously aware of the GAP between MYSELF and my BODY.
That was the first time, when I understood what was required of me when I was asked by him to grasp the idea of MINDFULNESS or of living in ‘SIMRAN’.
During that walk, he asked me to accelerate my speed and then to stop suddenly…again quicken my pace and again to stop abruptly according to the instructions he was giving. The idea behind this “game” was to sharpen my awareness of my bodily movements and to make me realize that it was my body, which was getting fatigued, “Not Me” and that I WAS WITNESS to this whole process of how my BODY and my MIND were functioning without affecting ME. This walk, which I have mentioned in my earlier chapters also, is referred to as the BUDDHA WALK- the walk undertaken in total AWARENESS and MINDFULNESS ...
Swami Ji also mentioned some simple practical ways to master the art of Mindfulness. If in pain, for instance, remind yourself that the pain is affecting your BODY and not YOU. ”Learn to distinguish between pain and sorrow. Body pain or suffering, by no means should be confused with sorrow!” he reinforced.
Watching a movie, he suggested that it should be watched passively, with complete awareness that YOU are separate from the characters, from the theme…and YOU are not perturbed if the protagonist is suffering, which generally disturbs you if you let yourself be a “part” of the plot. In the beginning, start practicing this art by taking out “Daswandh”, i.e. try to be mindful at least for the tenth part of each of your activity. If you are eating and it takes you thirty minutes to consume your food, at least be completely conscious of eating your food for the ten percent of your time, which is only three minutes.
Apply this principle to your walking, talking, laughing, cooking…every activity you undertake and then move on to gradually increase the ‘consciousness degree or the percentage ’, till it becomes a perpetual habit. In the olden times, taking out a “Daswandh” of your monetary earnings was considered to be a charitable practice. This encouraged voluntary or mindful help extended to the financially weaker brethren. I can now relate to the validity of doing so in the present day world in more than one context.
Carrying the practice of deliberate acquisition of AWARENESS further into life, you progressively begin mastering the REAL ART that YOU are a spectator of this movie of LIFE. Nothing in this life can harm or affect YOU. You start living this life as untouched by its adversities, as the Lotus blossoms…not affected by the fact that the water where it is growing is muddy….
Mastering the art of living in MINDFULNESS enables you to understand an important aspect of Spirituality that you are not BODY or MIND, but you are SPIRIT and this practice eventually results in the acquisition of MINDFULNESS, which becomes your powerful tool to take you beyond this mortal world to the world of ETERNITY….
Previous - Part 6 ====> Be Fair In Your Dealings
© 2015 Puneet Sodhi
Spiritual Musings - Part 4
Mastering Your Ego
I had been asked by my Guru to discuss the causes of my discontent with him. So I picked up my diary and headed on to the solitude of my room to note down the quota of sorrows I had been nurturing inside me from this lifetime or perhaps from the others as well! Without beating about the bush I would share with my readers, the first cause from my list as I jotted them down, along with the replies given so effortlessly by my Spiritual Mentor, Reverend Saint Sukh Sagar Ji :
“In my day to day life, I am very nice to the people I come into contact with. I am generous with my friends, relatives and even with strangers. I go out of the way to be good to them…sometimes outstretching my material resources or patience levels. When I do not get appropriate response or acknowledgement, I feel upset. There are times, when, far from being appreciated for my ‘benevolence’, I am criticized, termed as an ‘emotional fool’ and even sneered at! This devastates me, pains me deeply and throws me into fitful fretting and crying…”
My Guru came out with a reply, which has sunk in the innermost recesses of my being. Very chivalrously he pointed out that without my realizing so, I had a personality, which was prone to be Approval Addict. Not that my intensions of being helpful and good were questionable, but deep down, they also were feeding my Ego of wanting to be termed as an excellent human being from all quarters. According to him, I had started expecting ‘a good conduct certificate’ from all my relations. This was the cause of my unhappiness. The problem was not with others, it was with me. I would have to learn not to expect them to change, but to mould my own perspective of looking at things. In the concept of remaining unconditionally happy, it is you that matters…the behavior of others is inconsequential according to him.
Let me mention here that when Saint Sukh Sagar Ji interacts with an individual in the beginning, he classifies him/her according to certain Personality types, whom he also terms as ghosts/egos. He says that this recognition is necessary to pinpoint the causes of a particular individual’s dominating ego. It is important to recognize our Ghost category so that the required suggestions to overcome these may be offered. He highlighted that broadly the human nature falls under two groups-I am Right types and You are Wrong types, both of these are totally opposite to one another. These groups are then, further divided into sub-types. I, according to him belonged to the first (I am Right) group. The sub-categories of my type of Ghost are, the Possess instinct, theDominating instinct and the Justifying instinct. The characteristics my ego is to constantly look for approval and recognition. My kind of people, he said, do not vent out their emotions. They keep their feelings, anger and disapproval locked inside them. They want people to like them, and look for their approval. They do not retort back when someone hurts them because they would not displease anyone (Not even their tormenter). They do not want anyone to term them as being ‘Not Nice’. As a consequence they start suffering themselves by bottling up their anger, guilt, disgust and other emotions!
This kind of Personality analysis was a concept totally alien to me so far. My Guru had introduced me to a very practical way to recognize my ‘ghost’. He elaborated that most of us continue to live at their Ego level, all through their lives and are not able to come out of its shackles. My type of ego was prone to weave stories in mind. As a result, I ended up in blowing every situation out of proportion. For example, if somebody did not answer my phone call, my thoughts would start building a story that he/she was deliberately ignoring me. Whereas, in most of the cases it turned out that, the battery had run down or the person was busy in some business meeting… a number of such genuine reasons!!! Ruminating back, I can actually feel that, there were many issues, which were the products of my agitated imagination. The other oriented causes might have existed also, but if honestly analyzed, they were not as serious as I had overstated them to be!
Acceptance of the fact that, it was my Ego, which was central to my agony, was very painful in the beginning. So far I had been in the convenient habit of assigning my causes of unhappiness to ‘others’. This ‘shifting’ of ‘blame’ was unpalatable! But with regular and ‘aware’ reinforcement under the guidance of my Guru, I started recognizing the fact that ‘unhappiness’ is the product of the clash of EGOS only and never the outcome of two BEINGS…one of my first lessons inSPIRITUALITY.
I began to pay attention to read my Ego, whenever, some situations or people were not pleasant to me. It was a slow process, I admit. Gradually, I was able to control my mood swings. For example, if in the beginning, I was upset for weeks together, it came down to days and then to hours. Finally, a stage came that negative emotions emerged like waves, but receded back quickly, washing away all the rubbish collected by my ‘ghost’.
The people under the You are wrong group, are much more outspoken, and always look for shortcomings in other people. The sole motive of their Egos is not to let others Possess,Dominate or to justify them; and this becomes a constant cause of conflict between these two different personality types. (I am not going into details here to expound the concept, but this can be discussed, if the readers are interested) Saint Sukh Sagar Ji clearly emphasized that none of the persons belonging to either of the above categories was better or worse…they were just two “Ego” or “Ghost” types. Every single person is born with his/her set or sets of ego…so nothing to be remorseful or guilty about belonging to either of the two groups.
In order to be happy, the key is to recognize your ‘type’ and to work unrelentingly on mastering that ‘Ghost or Ego’ rather than to let it master you. He also stressed that a person needs to knowhis category in order to reinforce the idea that, whenever any clash occurs in one’s interactions with others, it is fundamentally the clash of ‘Egos’ and not the people. Hence no ‘blame game’…the key lies only WITHIN and not WITHOUT. In inter-personal relationships, you should train your mind in such a way that you grasp your Ego. It will make you understand that it is only the inability to master your ego, which hinders your behavior to match with that of others. And therefore the resultant unhappiness!
In inter-personal relationships, my Guru also advised me to stay away from EXPECTATIONS. This is also a very practical advice, which has benefitted me a lot. To exemplify, I take a gift for my friend, and start expecting that I will also be reciprocated in the same or perhaps ‘better’ way. If things do not turn out according to my expectation, I start burning inside. What a ridiculous way to ruin your inner calm!
This was a very logical approach. I had learnt two important lessons so far. First, it immediately dawned to me that I was unhappy because I had been living my life not for my own ‘self’ but for ‘people’. As a result, I had made myself, the football of other people’s opinion. I saw myself through their mirrors! How very unfair I had been to myself that I could not afford to look directly into my ‘own’ mirror!!! I was living a life, which was not being lived according to my dictates, instead was being maneuvered by ‘others’…and on top of that, I had given them this right, they had never asked me to do so!!!
Secondly, so far, my eyes had been blind-folded by my Ego, which had narrowed down my appreciation of other people’s perspectives, causing more damage to me than to them. I must train myself to separate myself and others from the garb of Egos in order to be peaceful inside and to control the turmoil within, which was the root cause of all this unhappiness. Until I was calm inside, I would not be ready for my next step on the mystical path of my Spiritual journey!
(How I proceeded further to the mastering my Ego with the help of Meditation...and what were the other causes of my unhappiness…I will discuss in the coming episodes….)
Previous - Part 3 ====> Learn to be Unconditionally Happy - The First Lesson
Next - Part 5 ====> Living In Acceptance Mode
© 2014 Puneet Sodhi