Time is of the Essence

Over the years, I perfected the art of listening and recently, I have watched it decline. Watching all my efforts go down the drain was extremely painful and this can be applied to my ability to focus and concentrate too. Although, we look to grow and evolve but this does come at a cost and this is what I like to discuss with you today.

Conversations

If you had put me in a room and my only thing was to listen, I used to interrupt someone until they had finished what they had to day. In recent years, I have seen this slowly diminish and now I interrupt when it is convenient for me.

Whenever I would be conversing, you would always find me mindfully listening and I found great joy in it. Listening is an easy way to feel the sense of the observer within you. So it was always a way to continue my meditation throughout the day and it provided fulfillment in my life.

I noticed that whenever I would interrupt or share my views straight away without thinking, I would leave a place feeling more tired and exhausted. Also, I would feel that the person I was talking to will probably feel that this wasn’t a worthwhile conversation.

I am always open to answering a question. So if asked anything, I would take the time to respond. However, in recent times, it was like I must share something otherwise, I would be irrelevant or people will go further into misinformation and maintain misguided views. Letting people be as they are has been a challenge.

A true conversation lies in the listening. It is empowered with the attention of listening. It is the silent observer that catches the nuances of what somebody says. If I am thinking about what to say in the next second, how can I be truly listening? So the art of a real conversation is when we take turns to converse our views and opinions. We take in what each person is saying and truly analyze it, not just from our perspective but mainly for the perspective of the speaker.

Books, Talks or Podcasts – the duration or pages matter

I listen to spiritual talks or podcasts regularly and I am an avid reader. Before, if you put a one hour or three hour talk for me, I could sit and listen and give my attention to it. Yes, my mind would drift now and then but I was able to concentrate for the most part. If you gave me a 1000 page book, I would be able to consume that. I love the longer talks and larger books because they give the necessary background that enhances the topic or concept discussed. The context that is added because time isn’t an issue allows the ideas/concepts to be clear and elucidated.

However, with the advent of social media, our concentration spans seem to be lessening day by day. We watch 10-30 second videos and call ourselves educated and informed. Before, it took us a decent 250-500 page book to be informed or a series of 2 hour talks but today, we don’t consider that necessary. When I listen to a 5 minute talk, I do not feel fulfilled at all or feel I have gained anything special. As easy as it was for my mind to concentrate on those 5 minutes, it was just as easy to let go of whatever I have learned in those 5 minutes. Without full context, we probably will not allow anything to become experiential.

I have recently felt that we must be very clear with our language, we should minimize our words only to maximize the understanding. But it doesn’t matter how long we talk for, or how much we write, it is about the clarity of the message. For anything to be clear, we need to explain it fully. For anyone to understand our views, we need to literally spell out how we got there.

Research – What is that again?

Today, our research is ‘Google it’ instead of let’s read or learn about it from experts in that field. For me, research is about getting a few or more books to understand any topic completely.

Nowadays, we read a few articles and suddenly, we find people on social media pretending to be experts on the matter. You will probably find a few social media influencers who will talk about mental health but have minimal understanding about what it is or have not gone through any mental health issues. Those people that have studied it, got degrees and are well-versed on the whole topic, they are not even consulted when these influencers share their ‘tidbits of wisdom’. This can be applied to any subject today. It is just a matter of reading a few articles and now we are completely enlightened on that subject. Who has time today to read a few books? Unfortunately, we think that these articles alone are enough to feel informed but this is not enhancing humanity at all, in fact, it is to the detriment to the community around us. I noticed this within myself and that is when I realized something is not right. We should be informed through a variety of mediums, like books, articles, research studies, and talk. Information overload is better than information minimization. Ignorance is certainly not bliss.

What to do next?

I have now started to read more books and listen to longer talks. I am constantly looking at how to increase my concentration, not just the longevity but also the intensity too. This requires work and effort. When someone is speaking, I need to learn to keep quiet and listen without interruption from my side. When I am reading a book, I must read a few pages without looking at my phone to increase my concentration and focus. Listening to a long talk on any subject, and reflecting on what is being said completely. Listen to panel discussions and the variety of opinions and thoughts.

A lot must be done to reclaim our focus and concentration, to become informed of a subject and most of all to have real conversations. Frankly, I must take the time to efficiently know something. In fact, efficiency is not about lessening the time to know something, efficiency is about increasing the quality of information and discussing valuable insights with others when necessary.

Spirituality is the device not the app.

Sometimes I do wonder if Sunday is any different for me as any other day. The reason why I say this is because I attend spiritual discussions on this day for 90 minutes. However, every morning in the week is spent on spiritual contemplation for a couple of hours. I do some reading and think about the meaning behind certain lines, sometimes I enter into a zone upon contemplation of those lines from an ancient scripture or a book based on spirituality.

I find that spirituality is incredibly important but not as an app on the phone that you can just go on whenever you please. Spirituality is the smartphone itself, it is the device. Without it, nothing else can function. That is the importance of spirituality in my life. It is embedded into my life and has a presence all the time.

A conversation about anything will always have my attention, for respect and dignity of the people I am around and sometimes, these conversation can be of great importance to everyone. I have sometimes felt a little bored but I remind myself to be attentive and to be present. Then there are spiritual conversations, genuine ones that inquire to go deeper into the nature of the Ultimate Reality, to understand spiritual practices, how to imbibe them and what are the pitfalls that could be faced. These conversations always have my peak interest and attention. At times, I feel like I need to say something and I do but I always realize later that I could have sat back and been silent and see where the conversation would have gone.

Our attention to spiritual practice and our determination for spiritual practice is what makes us spiritual. Just because we believe in a god, or believe in a scripture, or attend some discussions or worship doesn’t make us spiritual. However, it does make us religious. Then again, would the devout religious practitioner want such people who claim to be spiritual? Therefore, these people are seen to be seemingly lost, I don’t know if I can conclude them to be lost but they certainly are not serious enough to know if they can be spiritual – to awaken to the Ultimate Reality that is Nirankar or Brahman. Therefore, the ones who will be labeled as ‘spiritual’ will be the practitioners who work daily with numerous practices to become Aware of Awareness and eventually dissolving into that Formless Awareness, that is the Ultimate Reality – Brahman. Some may view the above as a little too harsh and may disagree but let’s discuss further. It is through healthy conversation that we can understand what it is to be spiritual, to be religious or to frankly be confused on what one wants to be.

Please, I implore to know your views and please write in the comments section.

Conversations with Nirankar

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We all face difficulties sometimes and it can lead to hurt and pain. We never know how to deal with it. What would be the best solution, or even the route to a solution?

For me, my spirituality has never contained the element of having a conversation with the Formless. For me, the Formless is what can be called God, in fact it has many names but yet remains nameless. Without form and name, it presides everywhere and is within everything. This Formless is my support at this very time as I go through one of the toughest moments of my life.

This morning I woke up, and I do my 2 pages of morning writing, where I let my thoughts go wild on the page. It normally turns out to be like a journal but it helps keep a flow in what is happening within me. After reading this in the evening, my wife and I, meditate on the Formless for 10 minutes or so. It helps us get back into focus on what is happening and to be in the moment. It allows us both to connect spiritually and deeper than anything a verbal conversation can have.

This morning I felt I needed a bit more than meditation. I decided to have a conversation with the Formless. I just let everything out that was in my mind, I cried and felt the immense pain of losing my Beloved Guru – Baba ji. Whenever I was going through a crisis, He would have been the first person I would speak to. Sometimes, when I felt low, He would be the one to pick me up. Today, I felt in the morning that He was no longer here and I felt alone, deeply alone. My support that I had with His physical form was gone, vanished and would never occur again.

Then something remarkable happened. I felt His presence, I felt His caring nature and voice telling me that everything is okay and that I must keep faith on the Formless. I must accept and do as He wanted me to do. He told me that He had always been proud of me and that He had to leave for the collective. Those that had His personal attention will always be looked after by Him. All I had to do was concentrate on creating this relationship with the Formless. Whenever I would remember the Formless, He promised me that He will be there for me. The beauty of Hardev remains in the Formless. It’s about having a conversation and I felt the stress, the worries, the anxieties evaporated as His presence entered and I can feel it right now. I can feel His embrace, the one I have missed for over a year, finally enter my heart. This is all I needed to know that my faith will never falter.

When we go through problems, whether you believe in God or not, having a conversation with yourself, out open in the air may be a logical thing to do. Yes, it may look silly to a passerby but who cares? Your wellbeing comes first. You will be able to let your repressed emotions become expressed.

Speaking to the Formless is the real prayer. This Energy, which is Fullness will illuminate your life. All it requires is a little surrender. Letting go of your ego and mind and allowing the Formless to work wonders within you. The way to converse with Nirankar (Formless) is simply in the knowing that This Energy is here and now. Being aware of This, you are able to fully involve yourself into revealing your innermost feelings.

I know that somedays I may never get an intuitive answer but whenever I do, I will feel complete and inspired again. I will be full of positivity because my Beloved is always within me and His love can never diminish. It will continuously spread, evolve and reach every human heart.

Try it and have a conversation with Nirankar and see what beautiful pearls of wisdom arises out of it.

Satguru’s love and blessings
Rahul