India’s highest peaks
[This article appeared in the March 2020 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html]
It is possible to experience peace and happiness if we learn to take charge of our lives. That means we should be ready to work on ourselves. But we find that it is hard to do small things that can improve our lives. However, we can master our life through two techniques. The first technique is to follow the five-second rule. All great things and the results that we want are only a decision away from us, but we fail because we are indecisive and do not push ourselves enough. The successful people are those who procrastinate less and take necessary actions every day towards their goals. We are unable to follow the simple discipline of getting up early to exercise and to go for a morning walk, because our mind always tries to keep us safe inside our comfort zone. The easiest way is to take action within five seconds before the mind takes charge and forces us to procrastinate.
The other technique is to follow the 90-second corridor rule. We get hurt and are carried away by comments, arguments, judgements, opinions and behavior of others, because we have given others the power to annoy us. “According to a study, emotions have a lifetime of only 90 seconds, and within those 90 seconds, if we can manage to stay calm, the feeling passes and we become normal. But if we react in this corridor of 90 seconds, we get carried away and may extend this feeling to a whole day, week or sometimes, even a month.” The phenomenon of the 90-second rule was studied by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who points out that if an emotion lingers on for more than 90 seconds, it means that the person has chosen to stay in that emotional loop by thinking again and again and getting entangled in the web of thoughts. But if we can flush out the emotion then we have a chance to think calmly and respond. This can be achieved by practicing mindfulness. Thus, for instance, we can allow positive emotions like sympathy, zeal, enthusiasm, etc. to linger on for more than 90 seconds. Likewise, we should observe the situation, and change it if we can, else, either accept it or try to move away from it. These two rules are magical, because the five-second rule allows us to take charge of our materialistic lives, and the 90-second corridor ensures a healthy, emotional life, as we learn to respond and not react, writes Anuradha Narang. (Life Positive, February 2020)
There is a saying, Shubhasya Shighram, i.e., there should be no delay in doing good. That “good” may include our decision to practice some virtue or to get rid of some unwholesome emotion, desire or habit, or to be of help to someone. We must act at once. Mr. Judge says, “Every impulse from above, every prompting of the Divine within, should meet at once with a hearty welcome and response. If you feel as if something urged you to visit some sick or afflicted neighbor or friend, obey the suggestion without delay. If the wish to turn over a new leaf comes into the lower consciousness, don’t wait till next New Year’s before actually turning it over; turn it now. If some pathetic story of suffering has moved you, act on the emotion while your cheeks are still wet with tears. In short, put yourself at once in line with the Divine ways, in harmony with the Divine laws. More light, more wisdom, more spirituality must necessarily come to one thus prepared, thus expectant” (Vernal Blooms, p. 32). All our habits leave a deep impression upon “lives” or elementals that form atoms and cells of our body. Breaking a habit amounts to washing the concerned elementals clean of their first impressions and giving them reverse kind of impressions. A good moral habit is not readily formed, but once commenced it is not very difficult to maintain, especially, if one deeply aspires.
When involved in desires and passions, the mind is reactive, making man an animal-man. When mind works in conjunction with spiritual nature, it is creative—making man divine. Our ordinary, everyday mind is reactive. We need to learn to adjust our mind to other minds. Instead of reacting angrily to criticism, bad behavior or selfishness, we could always pause and reflect, “Why does he behave the way he does?” When criticized for being proud or stingy, we can always do some soul-searching. If the criticism applies, we must take steps to improve; if not, we may ignore it. Similarly, when we are up against a difficult situation or a difficult person, instead of our usual reaction of frustration and despair we could always ask, “Why is it that no one else but I am put into this situation? Do I perhaps have to learn something from this?” This is the mark of a creative mind. As H.P.B. suggests, we must learn to act from within and not just react to stimuli from without. The creative mind responds, instead of reacting.