The mystics remind us that although we have taken a vow during initiation and have committed to practise a minimum of two and a half hours of meditation each day, this is in fact just the beginning simply the appetizer! For most of us, this may sound like an impossible feat. However, if we ponder deeply upon the spiritual path, and see how intricately it shapes our lives, we would obtain a better picture of what the saints and mystics are trying to convey to us and how it is possible for us to turn our lives around and make spirituality the dominant factor.
We are living through one of the most dramatic eras of change in human history. New technologies have changed not only the amount of information we are exposed to, but also the manner in which we build relationships and interact with the world. There is just so much more to learn, know and do. It is no surprise, therefore, that we find our plates overflowing. We are barely able to finish all that we would like to accomplish in twenty-four hours. We are constantly rushing about, guilty of multitasking when we know this is quite the opposite of what we are taught to do in meditation. In fact, we are scattering the mind even more. How then are we ever going to move on from the appetizer to the main course under such circumstances?
The answer lies in one simple word – ‘edit’. Just as passionate designers carefully select the pieces of their final collection, checking and discarding those that are not up to the mark or of little use in building the essence of the collection; and just as they scrutinize each and every model before she takes her first stride on the catwalk, ensuring that each look is impeccable and simply perfect; or just as a writer constantly edits his manuscript to achieve the best possible work he can produce for his readers, we too have to discriminate and edit our lives to ensure that it is taking us to our ultimate spiritual goal.
The process of editing our lives involves a lot of ‘cleaning house’ and decluttering. A simple definition of editing states: ‘correcting, shortening or improving material so as to make it ready for publication’. Likewise, we will have to examine our lives to see if we have structured it with a view of keeping our spiritual goal as the topmost priority.
We would start first by examining our thoughts as they become the precursor of our actions. It is said that the mother of every action is, in fact, a thought. Are we constantly being bombarded by regrets of the past or worries of the future? Are we wasting time, thinking negatively about our circumstances and focusing on what it is we don’t like, don’t have or aren’t happy about? All these thought inputs bear great influence on the quality of the output – our actions. If, instead, we adopted an attitude of gratitude, and focused on everything we have been blessed with and all that is good in our lives, our positivity would greatly inspire our actions.
How are we spending our days? Are we correctly prioritizing our tasks in their order of importance? What are we exposing ourselves to each day?
Are we deriving inspiration to become better human beings and disciples? Are we devoting enough time to meditation, satsang and seva – the cornerstones of the spiritual path? The answers to these questions give us an opportunity to evaluate whether or not our time is spent in the most efficient and balanced way possible, giving due regard to our widespread responsibilities. We would then have to take the appropriate steps to clear and remove debris that we have cluttered ourselves with and make changes, or as they say in technical jargon, press our personal ‘reset button’.
This process of editing our lives both in terms of thought and action is one that is going to be ever evolving as we move closer towards our spiritual goal. It, however, requires constant vigilance to prevent us from steering off-course. In order for spirituality to seamlessly take shape in our lives, our thoughts, actions, activities and relationships must be fully reflective of our commitment to the path. And as we move on from the appetizer to the main course, we will realize that it is all a natural progression and it is His grace that makes it all possible.
Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out your holy and true command.
Saint Francis of Assisi, as quoted in Falling Asleep with the Saints