When we pursue vedantic health system, we find that God has gifted us a beautiful body to live beautifully on this beautiful earth. In our body, there is self immunization system to protect us, and a warning system to alert us as and when there goes some thing wrong or we might have mismanaged something in our hurry to solve our problems like our quest for job, education, regular income, health, medical check-ups, proper accommodation, our debts, assets etc. To obviate the malfunctioning, yesterday we dwelt a little on certain virtues like Attention, Beauty, Compassion, Connections, Devotion, Enthusiasm, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Gratitude, Hope and Hospitality. To proceed further, some more virtues find place to be persuaded for appropriation of our efforts in this direction.
Our imagination is our preview of life’s coming attractions. How we wish our life to take shape depends upon our own imagination. It is a human faculty — the part of us that wanders in images, symbols, myths, and stories. It is the capacity we all have for innovative thinking and creative expression. It is also an inner reality, a boundless realm not defined by our senses or reason that we know from our dreams and can enter via certain exercises while awake. The practice of imagination encourages us to use this faculty and enables us to explore the realm.
We can begin by learning the language of imagination by keeping track of the images that come to us spontaneously in association with our feelings and thoughts. We should draw pictures of what we encounter in our dreams. By contemplating art we can see ourselves as part of the picture. To broaden the spectrum of imagination, we can read myths and tell stories. You know! Through the ages spiritual pilgrims have found that it is possible to step into the inner realm of imagination. There, you can find fuel for your journey and gifts of wisdom.
The sense of having Joy is the pure and simple delight in being alive. It is an elated response to feelings of happiness and experiences of pleasure and awareness of abundance. It is also the expression of our deep satisfaction we know when we are able to share with others. A life of joy is not in seeking happiness but in experiencing and simply sharing it with others. To find joy in another’s joy is the secret of happiness. We can invite joy into our life by staging celebrations and host festivities to mark transitions and changes in our life. We may toast moments of happiness as we notice through our day by undertaking dancing and jumping for joy as often as possible. Life is not meant to be endured; it is to be enjoyed.
Joy is usually part of a set of symptoms presenting in our life. The best protocol is to be thankful for the intensity of these feelings. When we are experiencing sorrow and sadness, when the tears are flowing, we should remember they can be stepping stones to joy. This thought will reduce our sorrows and thereby giving solace to our well wishers as well.
Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law of land, natural law, fairness, religion and/or equity. This practice applies to the whole range of human interactions, and today it is also being extended to animals and the environment. It means that we deal fairly with others, recognizing the equality and dignity of all. It requires that we work to insure that all people, especially the poor and the weak, have access to opportunities. It assumes that none of us is free until all of us are.
We may practice justice by demanding it. Words can be as forceful as deeds. We must identify injustices when we see them. We should speak boldly and put our body and energy to seek justice by standing up and being counted in support thereto.
Kindness is one amongst the most valuable treasures of humankind. It is a primary quality of an awakened mind, an essential sign of faith and the daily interactions of people of primal traditions. It encompasses a range of small acts and habits like saying “please” and “thank you,” waiting our turn, lending a helping hand, or cheering someone up with a smile. It applies not just to our relationships with other people. It extends to things, animals, plants, and the Earth. This practice also means being judiciously generous with our presence, time and money.
Few of us may describe someone as unkind, cruel, or nasty, yet we would have to admit that we often miss the mark on this practice. Many times we feel hurt by someone not doing something like a call that didn’t come when we were feeling low, a ‘thank you’ note not appearing, a missed appointment, and then, we may consider how often we had neglected to act in similar circumstances. Kindness is very susceptible to the sin of omission. Still, acknowledging that we have missed another’s kindness can make us want to be kind more consistently ourselves. This is one of those situations when a negative experience has a positive outcome.
Listening enables us to tune in to others and our inner voices of intuition and conscience.
It is how we know we are part of the natural, technological, and media worlds all around us. There is perhaps no greater way to show our regard for our friends, family, and associates than to truly listen to them. It is the act of entering the skin of the other and wearing it for a time as if it were our own. Listening is the gateway to understanding some other one.
We must practise to listen deeply the elders, our friends, our neighbors and those who seem to be aggrieved with something. It would help to reduce their tensions and enable us to understand more. This practice strengthens our relationship and social networking as well. The listening heart leads to a deepening of relationships and a greater sense of self for all parties.
Love of self, love for neighbors and love to God are the foundational stones of all the religions. The only reason for living is love. There is no other reason for staying on earth. It never dies whereas hatred ever kills; such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality, for it increases hatred. The duty of a human being is to diminish hatred and to promote love.
We may begin by recognizing that we can’t love others until we truly love ourselves, by carefully nurturing our body, mind and soul. As you move through a day, be aware of love’s expressions emerging from you or coming toward you in shape of attraction, focus, absorption, desire, adoration, security, trust, empathy, caring, harmony, contentment and communion. We may practice extending the reach of these feelings. It is through loving that we experience the love of God.
The universe has been created by God definitely with some purpose, and everything in it has some meaning. Nothing happens by chance. To everything, there is a purpose. Meaning is a brain-storming practice through which we learn the intentions of the happenings around us by attaching analogies, metaphors, symbols, and stories. It is a specific practice that can be learned, developed, and applied. It involves both seeking and making.
We can seek meaning by looking for the big picture encompassing our experiences. We may watch for patterns in the world and our own behavior, and make meanings to things and events. We will have to observe what messages come to us when we regard them in this way. We may expose ourselves to the various values assigned to everyday life by the popular culture, philosophy and the world religions. We may learn more about how we can understand things by repeating our analyzing practice again and again. Eventually, the regular practice of meaning yields understanding, not only of who you are but why you and everything else are here.
A regular regimen of nurturing helps you achieve a balance in your life between inner exploration and outer involvement, time alone and time with others, work and play. Feeling imbalanced — that things are out of whack in your life — is a sure sign that you need to step back and engage in self-care to regain your equilibrium. We have to find out who we are before we can make commitments to others.
There are many ways to practice nurturing, and everyone will find his or her own best ways to receive and give nourishment. To remain healthy, we have to care for our own souls in order to have the energy and strength to care for our families, our neighbors, and the earth. Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance We should continue to study and remain a lifelong learner. Reading and contemplating sacred texts and other sources of inspiration take us deeper into ourselves and out into the wider world. We should dedicate some of our time to leisure and reflection also.
It is important for us that we should keep our mind open to ideas, experiences, people, the world, and the Sacred. Openness is an ability to go with the flow, without expecting predetermined outcomes. It means being receptive to new possibilities, without prejudging them. It is an ability to make ourselves available to out-of-the-ordinary opportunities. Indeed, openness to the unknown, the exotic, and the bizarre is usually seen as the mark of a free spirit.
We can increase our openness by practicing empathy. We may move outside ourselves into another’s situation and try to access the other’s feelings and ideas. For the purposes of practice, the more eccentric our choice, the better would be results. How available are you to others? How interested are you in people, especially those quite different from you? How flexible are you? Do you usually think you already know how things are going to come out? Are you willing to try something new? These are the questions to ask to assess your openness and to determine the benefits you might derive from this practice.
Peace is an inner state of well-being and calm. Peace and war start within one’s own home. If we really want peace for the world, we must start by loving one another within our families. Earth will be safe when we feel in us enough peace. That means, peace gets us rid of our jealousy, conflict and greed. It is built on the foundations of other spiritual practices like connections, compassion, justice, unity. It is a goal of all spiritual people. It is also an outer project of promoting nonviolence, conflict resolution, and cooperation in the world.
We must maintain peace within oneself and peace between people. We can practice peace by refusing to participate in violence either directly or indirectly and try to stay composed no matter how agitated the people become around us. We may try to meet conflict with equanimity. We can disarm ourselves; lower our guard as a first step in disarming the world. The inner mirrors the outer. Those conditions like anger, aggression, discord that upset the equilibrium of the world, upset our inner peace as well. We need to deal with them on both levels. Encounters with violence which is a contrast to peace, invariably demonstrate the importance of this practice.
What we know is not worth knowing, and what’s worth knowing cannot be known through our ways. The well-known prophets encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously. We must adore playing. It is the exuberant expression of our being. It is at the heart of our creativity, our sexuality, and our most carefree moments of devotion. It helps us live with absurdity, paradox, and mystery. It feeds our joy and wonder. It keeps our search for meaning down to earth. We may practice play by doing things on the spur of the moment. We should take time out to experiment, to try on different parts, to relax and laugh heartily at jokes, situations, and ourselves. You know! Laughter heals body, mind, and soul, and by extension, communities.
Most of us don’t play enough. We’re either too “busy,” a code word for workholism, or we’re too serious, mistaking earnestness for accomplishment. We’re predictable, too, equating free-spiritedness with irresponsibility. The best treatment for these conditions is play. We need to lighten up ourselves.
Questing is a companion of adventure. You know! We all thrill to the quest. This kind of travel broadens our horizons and gives us practice dealing with new situations. It increases our capacity to take risks. It helps us to overcome any timidity or fear of the unknown that may be holding us back.
Those who quest very frequently venture into the unknown, confront difficulties and dangers, and return home with new understandings of themselves and of the world. A pilgrimage, part trip and part ritual, is prescribed in all the religious traditions for those seeking healing and renewal. The impetus for the journey could be an urge to explore one’s spiritual roots, a desire for absolution, a wish to pay homage, or a question that needs answering.
To practice questing, we may have to leave home, both literally and figuratively. We may travel to a sacred place where something has happened before and see what happens to us now. We must not stop, even if we stumble, until we find a gift or an insight to bring back with us. If we can’t go far, we should make an inner journey. We must ask questions and look for replies in areas where we have never thought to go before.
(Note: In our next post, we may discuss on some other virtues.)