A user’s guide to living – part 10
LOVE IN ACTION
DAAJI continues his series on everyday living, introducing the ninth universal principle of the User’s Guide, which explores how to become the best version of ourselves. He shares the importance of lifestyle as a complement to a meditative practice, and how our attitude to lifestyle reflects in our relationships with others.As a starting point, this ninth principle helps us to celebrate and value diversity among us all. In removing our prejudices and accepting the richness of humanity and other life forms, we evoke love and piety in others, and create unity within that diversity. As we go deeper into this principle, we realize the important roles of love and duty in our daily life if we are to become the best version of ourselves.
Mold your behavior and way of living to such
a high order as to rouse a feeling of
love and piety in others.
So far, we have covered eight principles, which we have categorized under Practice, Values, and Behavior. In Principle 9, we now look at raising the bar even higher in our dealings with others, so that they are inspired by us and feel our association to be ennobling. Principle 9 is a call to action to become our best possible version, to be in tune with our highest Self. This requires the coming together of all aspects of our practice and lifestyle. It requires the awareness, refinement, and moderation required for transformation. It is the culmination of all the previous principles, so that we become role models for others. Principle 9 is thus also about Leadership. A true leader leads by example, as a source of inspiration to others. And there is no shortcut to becoming such a leader; it is a weaving of all the previous principles into a way of life that evokes love wherever we go.
Inner transformation can change outer behavior
The real proof of our inner transformation is in our outer behavior and lifestyle, which are reflected in our dealings with everyone and everything. This is known in Yoga as vyavahara. Our dealings with others occur primarily in our conversations and actions, while the inner aspects of our being that frame these conversations and actions are our thoughts and feelings. Molding our living to the highest order means transforming all of these.
And how can we achieve this? Contemporary science now acknowledges that consciousness is the basic canvas of the manifested universe. Everything emanates from consciousness. So, to make any lasting change in the world, to mold our living, we have to expand and transform our consciousness, and meditation is the most effective way to do this. It is for this reason that meditation has become immensely popular with people who are interested in transformation.
Science now acknowledges that consciousness is
the basic canvas of the manifested universe.
Everything emanates from consciousness.
But meditation is one part of the story. The other important part is: How do we bring that expanded consciousness into our way of living? How do we allow it to transform our behavior to such a high order that we rouse a feeling of love and piety in others? Do we need to consider the play of cognitive and emotional biases in dealing with others? How can we create the feeling of goodness in others while we go on with an “I don’t care” attitude? Is it within us to remove biases from within?
Our way of living is all about how we interact with each other, how we converse, how we respond in a particular environment, how we dress, the kind of perfume we wear or don’t wear, our body language, the way we judge or value others – so many things. The way we conduct ourselves says everything about our way of living. For example, how do we live in such a way that we are not creating envy or jealousy in others? That means simplification to the bare minimum.
Remember Principle 4, “Simplify your life so as to become identical with your divine Nature”? I am purposely adding the word “divine” here to make the meaning of the word “Nature” clearer. It has nothing to do with sleeping under trees. It has everything to do with simplifying life so as to imbibe our divine Nature. When we go to that level of simplicity, the bare minimum, then it is possible to rouse the feeling of love and piety in others. It is a very high goal, actually. So, there is a need to think on how to get rid of complexities in order to arrive at simplicity.
And here we are not just talking of rousing love and piety in ourselves, which is a prerequisite and already a valid achievement. We are taking it to the next level of rousing love and piety in others. It has to be something more than being pious and in absolute love with God. That is not enough. Things move from higher to lower. If our purity has to flow into someone else, if we are to create a state of piety in others, we will have to reach a higher level so that it can move from higher to lower. Arriving at incremental purity too demands the removal of impurities – how shall we do that?
Creating loving relationships with others
The word “piety” is derived from pietas, the Latin word meaning dutifulness, affection, love, loyalty, and gratitude. It is worth exploring the idea of dutifulness here. When we are able to fulfil our duties, our dealings, our vyavahara, then we automatically create a kind of resonance with others. When we fail in our duties, others will have no respect for us, let alone love and piety. What happens in a family, for example, when parents are too busy to spend the proper time nurturing, protecting and supporting their children? Eventually, those children will lose respect for their parents, because their parental duty has not been carried out. Here we are talking of the highest level of vyavahara that resonates from our hearts. That resonance is created in such a way that others are not hurt by our way of living: They are not hurt because of the way we speak, or because we ignore them, or the fact that we don’t smile, or because we flaunt what we have. It has to be very simple, the bare minimum. And it must come with a sense of reverence and respect for others. This requires a lot of deliberation and consideration.
Can we artificially cultivate love and piety and make a show of it? No, it is not possible, although it does help to try! Surely it will inspire us toward a nobler goal. We can only genuinely express love and piety in our behavior and way of living by first acquiring the condition and creating that inner environment within us. It cannot be copied just by being with a saint or a Master, or by reading about it. It needs to flower from within as a result of meditative practices. And how will we receive such a condition in meditation? How will it transform our inner environment? Will our thirst be quenched simply by looking at two lovely bottles of sparkling mineral water? No. It will only happen when we become perfect receptacles. And that will happen when our hearts become the perfect vacuum. That is why the Cleaning process is so vital in Heartfulness, as it removes the complexities and impurities in our field of consciousness, resulting in the vacuum.
Eventually, after regular practice over time, we mold our living to such a high order that we are no longer dependent on the Cleaning practice, because our lifestyle no longer results in cognitive and emotional biases, either in ourselves or in others. Only then will our associates and loved ones find some peace; only then will they find some sort of uncompromising relationship with us. Only then will there be no demands. It will be a loving relationship based only on purity and simplicity.
Authenticity and conscience
That is why, again and again, Babuji speaks of vyavahara – duty. What is your duty in this very moment? Not only in your relationships, but also with the environment in which you move; be it a place that belongs to a friend, your relatives, or you; be it an industry, an office, or a farm. How does your presence contribute?
You cannot fabricate the conditions within yourself, you cannot pretend to be pious, and you cannot pretend to be pure. It will happen when you create an authentic relationship with your Maker and with your conscience. Are you happy with your conscience, whatever you do? Analyze yourself. If you throw garbage on the street or in the river, how does it make you feel? Do you have a certain level of conscience? A lot of us do have a conscience, but is it awakened with the ability to act? Sensitivity develops only then. And we will only become sensitive to subtler and higher things when we are sensitive to these worldly things by actual implementation. Each time our little inner voice prompts us to do something worthwhile, we need to listen to it. Otherwise we will lose the art!
Going beyond the senses and becoming sensitive
requires at least some commitment
to listening to our conscience
about the day-to-day mundane things.
When we have to be reminded
of our duties again and again,
our consciousness cannot expand.
Going beyond the senses and becoming sensitive requires at least some commitment to listening to our conscience about the day-to-day mundane things. When we have to be reminded of our duties again and again, our consciousness cannot expand. Constant reminders are necessary when we fail to listen. It is already too late when our conscience bites. Because our duty has not been done, hence the reminder comes.
Piety arises within the heart. It comes from beyond when we empty ourselves, when we remain prayerful, when we remain receptive. Piety can become a permanent fixture in us, but it cannot be practiced. Purity cannot be practiced. Divinity cannot be practiced. We can become pious, we can become pure, and we can become divine, but we cannot practice these things. They are the results of practice.
So what can we practice? The daily Heartfulness practices of Meditation, Cleaning, and Prayer. The expansion of consciousness that occurs through these practices is then woven back into daily life, transforming our entire being. Thought, feeling, speech, and behavior are interconnected; and any change in one leads to change in the others, resulting in transformation in all aspects of our life, creating a holistic transformation.
When we master this Principle, the application of vyavahara in our daily life becomes so very natural. Helping any beings in need, whether human or otherwise, is automatic and without ceremony. It is not that we even think in terms of charity, or good deeds, or random acts of kindness, or practicing compassion, or protecting the environment: it is our fundamental human duty to support and care for others, and do whatever is needed for them. It is the natural state – why even consider it to be duty? Hence, there is no need for accolades or appreciation. The ego is not involved. It is like a mother waking during the night to attend to her newborn. Does she see it as a duty or a sacrifice? Not at all – it is simply what she does. It is natural.
One with Nature
The result of this transformation is that we become one with Nature. When all the impurities are gone, we achieve that original state. It is then that our dealings are in tune with Nature. So, what are the aspects of Nature that Principle 9 asks us to emulate?
The first is uniformity. For example, be like the sun that shines everywhere without discrimination, and the air that is available for everyone to breathe. The trees give shade to both sinner and saint, and a rose gives fragrance to both rich and poor. Nature does not discriminate. We are all from the same Source of existence, or, putting it a bit differently, we are manifestations of one energy or singularity.
The second is diversity. Nature embraces and celebrates diversity. Can you imagine a beautiful woodland with only one type of plant? It is the variety of colors, textures, heights, leaf shapes, and flowers that give the woods their beauty. Nature manifests herself in diversity, and each expression receives its share, according to its capacity and worth.
When we change our behavior, it helps to change our thinking.
When we change our thinking, it changes our belief patterns.
This process is iterative and convergent, and the change is cumulative.
As we continue on, we gradually align with Nature.
When we combine these two aspects, we arrive at the idea of unity in diversity, which is the ultimate way we are able to value each other, accept our various strengths and weaknesses, live a happy family life, in community, and accept that we evolve by ennobling others.
The third aspect is evolution and growth. Nature is continuously evolving. From the primordial soup, the spark of life was ignited when the first single-celled organisms appeared. It took millions of years to evolve into the diversity of species we see today. Evolution and growth are primary impulses in Nature. Here on Earth, human beings are said to be the pinnacle of evolution right now. While plants and other animals evolve automatically according to Nature’s plan, we have been gifted with the possibility to evolve consciously. We have been endowed with a level of consciousness to be self-aware, and we can expand and transform that consciousness. The process through which we do this is meditation.
Meditation allows us to progressively become more and more like Nature, but the transformation only becomes permanent when we apply it in our day-to-day dealings. When we change our behavior, it helps to change our thinking. When we change our thinking, it changes our belief patterns. This process is iterative and convergent, and the change is cumulative. As we continue on, we gradually align with Nature.
The science of molding our living
What is meant by “Mold your behavior and way of living”? Take the example of a metallic object that is defective or not up to the mark. In the process of molding it, we first have to melt it down. This melting down is a metaphor for removing existing habits, breaking down mental and emotional patterns, and changing our belief systems. Once we break down those things of our own making, we can be remade in Nature’s mold.
From a scientific perspective, this means deprogramming our fixed subconscious neural patterns, so that neuroplasticity and adaptability develop in line with Nature’s principles. This happens through the removal of repetitive tendencies, behaviors and habits. Let’s say we have the habit of rudeness in our speech. The first step is to recognize it and want to change. As our speech becomes more and more polite, it will be noticed by others and they will change their behavior toward us. This will further motivate us to be polite, until eventually it becomes part of our nature. This also changes our thinking. In turn, the neural patterns related to rude speech are erased. But all this is made permanent when we remove the root cause of the patterns at the level of the subtle body through the practice of Cleaning.
Such changes in lifestyle involve all the earlier eight principles: the daily practice of Meditation to train the mind, the practice of Prayer to vacuumize the heart, having a focus on the highest goal, imbibing the universal values of simplicity, truthfulness and kinship, accepting miseries and eschewing resentment and revenge, and being happy to eat what we receive with due regard to honest and pious earnings. These principles are the tools that shape our transformation.
Attracting the divine gaze
But the best is yet to come! When we mold our living in this way, we not only rouse feelings of love and piety in our fellow beings, we also begin to catch the divine attention. We become “the cynosure of His eyes,” in Babuji’s words. And this is an essential step if we want to continue on the journey. As Babuji explains, “Divine help does come, no doubt, but only when the Supreme is convinced of the devotee’s earnestness of purpose.” The Supreme Being also needs to have trust in us. Are we earnest, sincere, really searching, and authentic? Otherwise, why would He fool around with us? Babuji’s own Master, Lalaji, explains it further in the book, Truth Eternal: “When we have lost all sense of our own significance, and are devoid of ego-consciousness in any form, direct or indirect, then whatever we do will be just what we ought to be doing. This condition, if bestowed by God, is the best of all conditions.” Then Nature takes its place.
Inspiring ourselves and inspiring others
From experience, we know that we cannot inspire others unless we are inspired ourselves. Many people are inspired by wealth, fame, and prestige. Though there is nothing wrong with any of these, true seekers are not inspired by them, but simply accept them with gratitude when they come. It is not what we are looking for. We are also not waiting for some profound prize or enlightenment in the distant future when we complete the journey. We are inspired by something immediate, in the present, and you may be surprised by the answer. It is the condition bestowed in meditation, the gift of Samadhi, oneness with God, that is the inspiration. There is a little taste of the Divine each time we meditate. This is what inspires us to practice and also what inspires us to live a simple and truthful life, treating everyone as kin. This is what inspires us to become the best version of ourselves in whatever we do, each and every day, so that it eventually becomes permanent.
The love and respect we receive from others are only indications of our progress, the confirmation that our behavior is aligning more and more with Nature, but it is not the reason we want to change. Other people may be attracted to us because of the feeling of love and piety that arises in their hearts, but if we expect it, it will only be an expression of ego.
The qualities that are valued in today’s leaders are vastly different from those that were valued thirty years ago. There has been a shift from dominance, power and control, to empathy, emotional intelligence and compassion. This shift correlates with the shift in our collective consciousness, and it is also validated in research done in the fields of neuroscience and quantum physics. This research indicates that we are connected to everything in the universe through consciousness. Nature is innately intelligent, and that intelligence manifests in conscious form in human beings, so we have an additional responsibility to take care of Nature. We have the means to change external conditions by consciously changing our inner Nature.
When we reflect deeply on Principle 9, we realize that conscious leadership comes from within, from refining ourselves, from moderating our impulses and transforming our behavior. It is only then that we inspire others and evoke a feeling of love in their hearts. All of us have the potential to lead in whatever stage or position we are in. To be a leader means to live a life that inspires others, whether in the family, at school, in the community, the workplace, or the world at large.
So what is the day-to-day practical application of Principle 9? It is in every moment. It covers our entire existence. It applies to every little facet of our existence. And small steps bring about big changes. As a start, here is something you can try: Pay attention to your speech – to what you say and how you say it. Bring your heart into coherence with your whole being before you speak, by bringing your attention to your heart. If needed, you can breathe in and out five times from your heart. Smile to your heart when you speak. Choose your words correctly. Keep your tone even, calm, soothing and compassionate. Speak truthfully without hurting others. Help them to feel comfortable. When your speech is calm, your emotions will be calm, your body will be calm, and your thoughts will be calm. You will remain calmly connected with the Real. When you practice this consistently with awareness, it will transform your life.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL (DAAJI)
Illustrations by JASMEE RATHOD
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