What in me has changed in these 9 years?

16th June, 2008 was the day when I was introduced to the world of Meditation by my elder sister, Shaveta Sharma over a phone call. Since then, I have never looked back. It was only after this introduction I grew to my purpose. Some amazing and life transforming learning has happened for me in these 9 years.

I learnt, that :

  • Life is all inclusive. Good and Bad are our given definitions.
  • Regular Meditation helps us to stay in awareness throughout the day
  • Physical and Spiritual Worlds are not different. Bringing our spirituality in the physical world is the best combination.
  • ‘Present Moment’ is magic wand that can change things in life
  • Trust and Surrender in the divine force are the best ways to unfold magic in life.
  • Emotions are like our babies and need to be handled gently and lovingly.
  • Our perception of God defines the God. For me now, God is loving, caring and all approving.
  • Door to healing opens after acceptance of who and where we are.
  • Relationships can be transformed into loving and fulfilling one if we are committed to heal our inner mirror which is creating this experience in the outer world.
  • Our Relationship with our body, mind, money and outside world or anything is the reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
  • Life is a celebration and needs to be celebrated in its entirety.
  • In the end, lesson is always Love

The Self Absorption Syndrome

(Written for Living Wisdom Newsletter- Published by Life University, Hyderabad)

Mouni, a freelance magazine columnist in her mid-thirties had three breakages before she entered into a marriage with a man of her choice. Even after five years of marriage she feels that her husband is not a perfect partner. She feels that her husband has changed as he would call many times during the day before marriage but now it doesn’t happen. He would buy her gifts often before marriage but now it’s stopped completely. At the dinner table, this is their constant topic of discussion – She says, “Hey! What about me? You have changed. You don’t care for me anymore.”

Ashish, a software professional in his early thirties is a complete party animal. He loves late night parties with his friends and reaches home fully drunk every day. He doesn’t want to marry because he wishes to remain a free bird. He has a dad at home (mother died long back) who waits for him to come on time every single night. He holds his father responsible for not giving him a good childhood. His arrogance and cold behaviour acts like a slow poison for his father. It’s been long they haven’t had a healthy conversation with each other. He says, “Dad! I love myself and I love to be a free bird. I earn well, so I have the full right to spend it the way I like.” Is this really self- love?

On the other hand Sharad couldn’t become a doctor so he pines to see his daughter fulfilling his dream. The daughter is a gifted singer and given a chance, she can give her heart and soul in making singing her fulltime profession. Sharad says, “What I couldn’t do, my daughter will do it for me.”

There’s a common thread between all of them. However, they all seem to be ardent followers of the “Love the Self” rule but something is amiss between each one of them.

How often do we slip out from the zone of “Loving Oneself” justifying what we are doing is actually taking care of the self? How often do we pack our Self-Absorption syndrome into a Self-Love wrapper, pretending nothing is wrong in doing it? How often do we think of the “Poor me syndrome” in the relationship dynamics?

So, what makes a Self-Love (SL) Person different from a Self-Absorbed (SA) Person? Let’s look carefully into the dynamics to understand the finer nuances between the two, a tacit understanding of the fine line that separates them.

Underneath their confident attitude, a SA person carries a fragile self-esteem whereas, a SL person is constantly aligned with his innate truth which says – “I am worthy, we are all worthy, the whole creation is worthy.”

A SA person can’t take criticism constructively. He focuses excessively on his strengths and when it comes to working on his weaknesses, he takes a spin off by saying, “It’s ok to be me. I love myself… you see.” We need to remember that real acceptance of our weaknesses brings courage in us to transform and avoid becoming dormant in our comfort zone. A person in SL gives an ear to any feedback received with a positive bent of mind and genuinely looks into it measuring the pros and cons on the reality scale of 0-10 and acting on it, when required.

A SA person believes in creating a ‘Special’ place for himself in a group whereas a person in SL encourages equality. The whole idea of life for him is to be ordinary because it is within this ordinariness that stems out the potential seed to become extraordinary.

Although a SA person wears an all pleasing mask on the outside, but truthfully he lacks the ability to empathise with others innately. He is so caught up in holding his own space on a certain platform that he is hardly left with the time or ability to empathise with others around him. A SL person has a natural ability to read and respond to others’ feelings & emotions. It is this inherent quality that makes them maintain successful & long term relationships with his associates and others around him.

When hurt, a SA person follows an ‘All Silence Policy’ and gets cold towards the person responsible for hurting his ego. He tries to take revenge by completely ignoring that person. A person in SL works towards finding a positive solution by making a sincere effort to have a face to face meeting with each other and focuses on finding a fair resolution to the problem.

A SA person says, “I am better”. A SL person says, “I am good”.

There’s a Mouni, Ashish, & a Sharad in all of us. We all need to learn to read the fine print in between the lines. Great Masters didn’t say that we become so obsessed with the ‘Love Yourself’ Rule that we forget to hold a space of love for others. People with Self- Love value others as much as they value themselves.

Gautama Buddha said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”He made this statement to signal that our worldly relationships mirror our inner world. Therefore, to create a loving world outside, we first need to create a loving space inside. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you become mute to others’ pain, rather our heart should be wide open to hold the others as equals offering them the space of unconditional love and compassion.

So next time watch out when you cross the thin line between Self-Love and Self-Absorption.

From ‘Zero State’ to ‘Zero Ego’

We often hear about a ‘Zero State of Mind’ or a ‘Zero State Meditation’ where the seeker or meditator reaches to the state of a complete zero. It is that space where everything stays in neutrality. There is no duality unlike our physical world. With continuous practice, we often experience this state in our meditation. But, is it only meant to be experienced in deep meditations? The real purpose of our meditation is to make us aware of our True Nature which is free of judgements and a limiting perspective. I really like one of the sayings in Art and Science of Meditation by Dr. Newton Kondaveti where the co-author, Chitra Jha says our real meditation starts when we are ‘off the mat’. So can we make our life a meditation? Can we free ourselves from our judgements, greed, jealousy etc.? If yes, what do we need to do for it?

Once there was an erudite scientist. After a lot of experimentation, he developed a formula for reproducing himself. With continuous practise, he started to do it so perfectly that it was impossible to tell the reproduction from the original. One day while doing his research, he realized that the Angel of Death was searching for him. In order to remain immortal he reproduced a dozen copies of himself. The reproduction was so meticulous that all of them looked exactly like him. When this Angel of Death came down, he was confused to see thirteen replicas before him. He couldn’t figure out who is the original scientist. But being an expert in human nature, the Angel came up with a clever idea. He said to the scientist addressing all thirteen of them, “Sir, you are a genius to have succeeded in making such a perfect reproduction formula. However, I have discovered a flaw in your work, just a tiny little flaw.” The scientist immediately jumped out and shouted, Impossible! Where is the flaw?” “Right here” said the Angel, as he picked up the scientist from among the reproductions and carried him off.

The whole purpose of the scientist and his formula of reproduction failed as he could not control his pride and lost his life. Our mastery of any level can be put to ashes by only one thing in us…and, it’s our EGO. It is that part in us which continuously criticises & judges, it typifies things into superior or inferior, good or bad, ugly or pretty. In other words, it is our identification with that form which gives rise to a false sense of self. It gets displayed in our thoughts, words and actions. It separates us from our True Self which is Love, Clarity and Oneness.

We need to be aware of our ego which comes in different forms and disguises. Even our spirituality can be an ego if we try to use our personality as a status symbol. Some of the other egos can be:

  • People Pleasing Ego which tries to cover up insecurities by constantly pleasing others.
  • Judgemental Ego which continuously passes judgement for others.
  • Superior Ego which says I am better than you.
  • Self-righteous Ego which projects self, nothing less than the virtuous. It puffs-up himself as better than others. It says, I never talk like that to anyone or the meditation that I do is the best.
  • Blame Ego puts blame on others and says it’s your fault or it’s my spouse’s fault etc.
  • Experience Ego which says I have twenty years of experience and you are a beginner. I know more than you.
  • Age Ego which says you have to do what I say because I am older than you.
  • Power Ego which separates us from the True Self because of the status we identify with. It says I am an Engineer far successful than a teacher or I am a politician, I have the power to influence people’s life the way I want.
  • Money Ego which says I am superior because I have a big house and money in my account or I can influence people’s decision with the power of my money.
  • Spiritual Ego which identifies with the sense of pride or feeling of being extra-ordinary. A spiritual ego person might begin to feel as he perceives himself to be attaining what he believes to be important and valuable spiritual knowledge. He forgets that the real spirituality is about being ordinary because it is in that ordinariness our extra-ordinary potential is staying.

Not all Ego is bad. There is something called Positive Ego which helps us to focus on the facts than interpretations. It helps us to maintain a right self-esteem while giving an equal place to others in the creation. Negative Ego says, “I am closer to the Creator because I meditate every day.” Positive Ego says, “We all are divine beings and we all have an equal place in the eyes of the Creator. There is nothing closer or distant from the Creator.”

Amongst these egos, our negative ego displays a few characteristics. Knowing about them can be beneficial to identify our ego deeply in all walks of life. These are:

  • Wanting to be right and prove someone else wrong. It focuses on creating separation.
  • Being offended and feeling hurt if someone gives you a feedback.
  • Feeling possessive of anything-possession of a person or a belief system etc. Here, we resist to change.
  • Trying to be someone.
  • Comparison with others

How can Negative Ego be dissolved?

We all wish to dissolve ego, but most of us don’t recognise it. So, recognising or accepting ego behaviour in self makes it far easier to dissolve it. We can transcend it by using some of the tools and tips mentioned below:

  • Awareness: Once there was a Sufi mystic who goes to a King and asks for a meal. The king shouts at him saying that nobody there knows him. The mystic laughs and says, “Yes, I agree. Nobody knows me here. But I know myself. In your case, everybody knows you. But you don’t know yourself.” The story shares that our ego can be dissolved by being in the awareness of self. So next time, whenever we are in the midst of a strong egoism, let’s allow our awareness to take over. We become aware of our breath, become completely non-judgemental and non-resistant. That very moment, there automatically comes a gap between our thoughts and us. We create freedom from our ego thoughts. By continuous practice of this we will understand that we are much beyond our thoughts and all its identities. We are pure consciousness, a vast intelligence where answers to all our questions is only LOVE.
  • Selfless Service: Being in Seva (selfless service) helps us to crush our ego. Inculcating the thoughts to be in seva for the Nature and all the kingdoms of life will definitely take us to the one who needs this seva the most. Even our small gestures in serving others make us flexible and humble. So next time, when some guest comes at your place, don’t call your help to serve water, rather go and bring it yourself for the guest and serve them as if you are serving it to the one whom your love the most.
  • Being Open to say Sorry: Let’s not hesitate to say sorry. Statements like, “I am sorry” or “You are right, I am wrong” can break the ice instantly and our relationships can prosper with roots strong, deep inside our hearts.
  • Deep Listening: Becoming open to present yourself to listen to others can help us understand others’ perspectives. It helps us to become flexible and look beyond our viewpoints.

It is our own ignorance that make us victim to our ego. We become ignorant of the fact that we all are divine beings and worthy of blossoming to our highest potential. We become ignorant that good and bad, light and dark are tags used in physical world while in our real world there is no separation as everything stays in One.

Let’s own this truth…Let’s go beyond our ego…let’s make the life beautiful!!