In a life of endless desires, unaccomplished goals, regular frustrations, and failed attempts, misery becomes the by-product. I have never been able to find a greater secret than acceptance to attain equilibrium of the mind. Acceptance can be taken in various aspects. Financial crises, business loss or closure, is hard to accept and a cause for stress. Naturally, one must use strategies of reduction, correction or any other method. At the end of the day, all said and done, there are only two options – acceptance or dejection.
When people behave or react to you in a manner, which is unacceptable to you, there are two options – reaction or acceptance.
When you have done your best in a particular job and get no appreciation you have two options – rejection or acceptance.
When anything nice happens and you attain something in the material, intellectual or spiritual world there are two options – excitement or acceptance.
When you go out for a meal and it turns out to be unsavoury, again you have two options – disappointment or acceptance.
When a near one gets very sick or dies you have two options – lamentation or acceptance.
If your marriage partner were to abandon you, cheat on you or leave you due to disagreements, you have two options – rejection or acceptance.
A continuation of these options would lead to writing another book. So let us summarise, acceptance does not mean non-action or making no efforts towards correction and change, but if you notice carefully, it is the only option devoid of emotion, every other option instigates the brain and disturbs the mind. For thousands of years spiritual savants have spoken about CONTENTMENT. The root of contentment lies in ACCEPTANCE.
One of the known Sufi mystics was a woman called Rabia. Her approach to spiritual life won her respect from many of her contemporaries. When people asked her when are servants of God content? She replied: “they are content when they are as grateful for pain as they are for pleasure.”
Vairagya or Detachment
Having acquired proficiency in the above two concepts, we can aim to practice the third. Let us examine what attachment does for us. Firstly, it puts us in the loop of pleasure and pain.
Secondly, we get connected to people and things – the destiny of those people or things which are not connected to us, now start affecting us. We therefore, buy into the equity of others’ pleasure and pain, and pain being a more widespread commodity, we become susceptible to lot of additional pain. Further, attachment leads to outward attention, we keep thinking about the people or products we are attached to and this can lead to outward transmission of the Aura (as explained in the chapter on Aura). It also takes attention away from ourselves and focuses on external objects.
Detachment leads to the balancing of emotions and is a critical tool required for the reduction of duality. To step towards higher levels of consciousness, we need to detach not only from family, friends and beloved products, we also have to detach the ‘selves’ within from our own physical bodies, which are impermanent in nature.
Strangely, all of Gurudev’s followers felt they were the closest people to him, so did I. Each of us felt, he favoured us more than the others. Over a hundred of us, felt that we were one of the 11 chosen disciples of his fraternity. We felt that he loved us much more than our parents did, and he was always thinking about our well-being and progress. On ground reality he spent more time with us than he spent with his children. It was later, when I got to know him closely, after years of association, I realised that he belonged to everyone and no one. He was ready to relieve your pain but not to feel it.
There are two sides to role play. We can play the role of the characters that people want us to become or we can become the characters that are needed at the time. If you have seen ‘Godfather’ the film, you might want to know that Marlon Brando the lead actor got so absorbed in the character, that he needed six months of psychiatric help to get him back into his own. Rod Styger played the role of Napoleon in an epic saga called ‘War & Peace’. He too got into the role and needed psychiatric care to get out of it. I am sure many actors have gotten absorbed into the roles they play in films and theatre and become the characters they played, more than themselves.
Just imagine if you can reverse that. Ha Ha!! Think about it. If you could play the role of the husband that your wife wanted you to be, the role of the father your children wanted you to be, the role of the mother that your children wanted to see you as, and you could do this as a part of play acting (but good acting mind you). Imagine the change in relationships! You would not need to believe in the role that you were playing. You would do it merely as an act. There would be no emotions attached. There would be no ego bashing. So why not ACT genuine instead of being genuine and not have to carry the baggage of emotions.
Gurudev played almost every character in the book that I could imagine. He once told me that his relationship with me (and with others) was multiple. He said he was my Guru, my father, my mother, a friend, a brother all in one, but at different times. I noticed on many occasions that he responded to the role you assigned to him. If you treated him like a Guru, he behaved with you like a teacher. If you gave him the role of the mother, he would indulge you. If you treated him like a friend, he would be cracking jokes and pulling your leg and using those famous Punjabi words that are eternalised.