Elevate your Self

Following from yesterday’s post, I wanted to continue with discussing Allama Iqbal’s poetry, specifically from the poem ‘Dayar-e-Ishq’.

Khudhi Ko Ker Buland Itna Ke Har Taqdeer Se Pehle
Khuda Bande Se Khud Pochay Bata Teri Raza Kya Hai
Elevate your Self to such great heights that before issuing every decree of destiny, 
That God should ask you, 'Tell me, what is your wish?' 

Here Iqbal is really instructing his son on what to do. The best thing to do in life is to elevate your Self. What is this Self? Who is it? Where does this Self reside? In the some of the Upanishads, they didn’t see the soul and God as two different things but called it the Self, obviously with the capital ‘S’. This was to make us, the listener/reader understand that the true Self is not our ego but the limitless, indivisible, formless existence that witnesses through our senses. Here Iqbal is referring to this true Self. Before I go on, I want to make sure that I clarify what I term as the ego in a quick sentence. The ego is the accumulation of everything that I think is ‘me’ like ‘I am my body’, ‘I am my mind’ or anything subject to change, decay or death. As I have established what the ego is and what the true Self is, the poem further expresses to reach great heights. There is nothing higher than living an awakened life that is in awareness of our true Self.

In fact, here Iqbal really sets an interesting tone that by reaching such great heights that whenever destiny has to be written, or shall we say the results of our karma is to be issued, that God has to ask us what our wish is, what our desire is, what will satisfy us. It’s such delicate poetry that it can be interpreted in many ways. From the point of view that I look at it from, is that once there is oneness with the Formless, then you are literally writing your destiny. This isn’t some new-agey nonsense that whatever you wish for will be manifested. As you are the Self, the Formless, you will be honest in the result of your own karma. Also, anyone who reaches such great heights, most likely will not make mistakes. But sometimes, we do make subtle mistakes and an elevated Self will notice this and will be fair in its outcome.

This line just stood out to me because it contains oneness with one Self – which is the same as oneness with God. How many of us can attain to such heights? Who knows? But one sure thing is that we need to practice. Simply saying nice words, thinking nice thoughts will never be enough but sincere concentration and meditation on the Formless will elevate us. We can do it and it all depends on how important it is for us to reach that life-transforming moment.

Meditation helps

Meditation has helped me a lot and recently, I have been rather easy with it. If I do it then great and if I don’t then great. However, a regular practice of meditation has always helped me to see life more clearly and with a lot more honesty towards myself.

Sometimes we want to care more about something or give more attention but with our constant short-lived, fast-food culture of seeking happiness, it arrives and disappears quickly. When we are able to concentrate and focus on life a bit more, we tend to have a longer lasting happiness. This is a gift that meditation surely has given me.

Being aware of your own self is super important. If you know what angers you, what annoys you, what makes you happy, what gives you joy then you more likely to make choices that benefit not only you but others too. A happy you is beneficial to others unless someone can’t see someone happy, which when you think about it, it can be slightly strange.

At the moment, I am reading the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda and I think the Universe and the Formless beyond the Universe is trying to tell me that get a little more serious about meditation again.

Concentration – a lost art!

distractions

Today we have a problem of epic proportions! That is concentration or attention. There must be always something to do.

Imagine you had a day off. You will go shopping. Or you will watch TV, watched it for 10 minutes so let’s flick over to a new channel. Or let’s go on my phone, download apps, delete apps, go on apps, flick through them every ten seconds. Facebook…like…like…comment. Twitter..tweet…read…tweet…read. Instagram…post a photo….like photos…post photos…like photos. Oh, let me eat something! Confusion? What can I eat I am bored! Do you get the picture now? No! Okay, let me sit down and meditate. Do I look spiritual? Oh, meditation isn’t a spiritual practice so I can still be a cool atheist. Let me meditate…empty my mind…empty my mind…food….shark…Tesco…absence of thought but thought of absence of thought…shifting gears in a car…dustbins…porn. I give up after two minutes that seemed like two hours.

Concentration is a lost art. I say this with a sad face!

At first, I noticed this problem within myself. I used to sit in satsang (sacred gathering) and bring out my mobile phone and not take in what was being said. The problem was not my phone. It was me. Was I ready to admit this? Hell no! It is easier to blame my mind because I know I am not the mind. Oh wait! It is on loan to me so I am kind of responsible. This went on for a year and then I stopped. I realised that this wasn’t a problem that I had, this was going on around me. When we do anything and we do not focus with complete presence then sadly we lose whatever is being discussed. Sometimes, words can be heard but it is the essence, the feel of the speaker, the gestures, the expressions, the tone of the speaker that really hits you. Yet, if I am on my phone then am I taking that in? Is a text message or a whatsapp message more important? Can a phone call wait? Do I need to check that needless FaceBook notification? Do I need to check that email that somehow has passed the junk filter? I definitely do not need it.

If I was sitting in front of my Guru and He was talking to me and I just took my phone out, would that be disrespectful? Of course. We say that the Satguru is present in the Satsang, so if He is present and I am taking my phone out then that means not only am I ignoring Him but I am disrespecting Him too. Am I really seeing Satsang as a place to learn or has it become a social club?

When I sit in the Satsang now, away from my phone I can truly concentrate. I access the Formless, concentrate on the speaker without any distractions. I find that my mind does wander time to time and I bring it back to the present moment. I guide it with respect and a little love. If it is being a cheeky monkey then I give it a battering and tell it to behave. The thing is I have been trained to be in control of the mind and not the other way.

The question is how can I do this?
Start meditating. Start with 5 minutes and then every third day, go up 5 minutes. I only meditate for a maximum of 20 minutes and it is intense from the first second. My meditation happens whenever and wherever as the goal is to be aware that you are aware. Then start being aware of every action you do and you will feel the intensity of every action. It is beautiful and a great access to bliss and peace. You will enter great relaxation and the by product of this relaxation is that the mind wants more of it so it relaxes too.

The mind will go places. It will travel but your responsibility is to remain aware of this moment, the formless moment.

It is sad that we have lost concentration and it means that our sacred spaces have no space in our mind. This is sad. I encourage you that whenever you go to your place of worship, put your phone away, keep it in the car or leave it at home. Or avoid looking at it. It is important that we learn the art of concentration again or we will lose all art.

Love
Rahul