To Do List
We are all familiar with the term ‘to do list’ – a list of things or tasks that we feel need to be accomplished during the day or even during our lifetime. But have we ever thought of creating a ‘not to do list’ – a list of things that we should not waste our energy and time pursuing? This does not have to be a physical list on a piece of paper, but more of a mental note that would help us focus on what is truly important in our lives.
Our lives are filled to the brim with various thoughts, duties, responsibilities and other assorted activities. In today’s world, we are all faced with a technology overload where we are bombarded by excessive emails, phone calls, text messages, facebook and chat messages – all of which end up creating a loss of focus and extreme stress in our day-to-day living.
Most of us go through the day in a multitasking frenzy, deluding ourselves into believing that juggling several tasks will lead us to accomplish more than we usually would. We confuse activity with productivity. We fill every nook and corner of our time with activities that we have convinced ourselves we cannot do without, leaving no space or time for us to breathe. Little do we realize, until it is too late, that we have wasted our time in fruitless pursuits, giving importance to almost everything, except the objective of our human birth. In the words of William Henry Davies, “What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare?”
In Treasure Beyond Measure, Maharaj Charan Singh advises us to put our priorities in perspective:
Ask anybody and you will find that he has no time. The labourer has no time; the engineer has no time; the doctor has no time; the industrialist has no time … What then have we gained from all this progress, from all these developments? … This is not entirely the fault of development. We have become prisoners of the things that development and progress have given us. These things were meant for our benefit, for our use; we were not meant for their benefit, for their use … I am not against modern developments and the present civilization. But at no cost should we compromise with the basic values of human life.
We have been given the gift of human life to realize our true potential, to take the steps necessary to return to our true home. In the words of Maharaj Jagat Singh:
This life is but a link in an infinite chain of existence. The body perishes but the soul lives on – immortal, treading the path back from its painful separation and prodigality to its blissful return to the mansions of the Lord.
The Science of the Soul
The Masters explain that we are essentially pure beings of a spiritual nature, whose purity has been obscured by the mind and senses. And we can only rise above these trappings of the body and the mind when we are able to concentrate on that ocean of pure love that is the core of our being.
Concentrate on keeping your mind in the presence of the Lord; if it sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him, do not let it upset you; confusion serves rather to distract the mind than to recollect it; the will must bring it back calmly.
Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
We struggle with everything going on around us because our attention is not concentrated on the Lord. From the time we were born, the mind has been wandering around outside, swayed by the senses. We fill our days with the to do lists of activities and we keep the mind so preoccupied, we are unable to focus on our priorities. This outward tendency of the mind has become a very deep-rooted habit. In order to bring our attention back at the eye centre, we need to reverse this process. And the only way to do this is by meditation.
The third eye is the seat of the mind and the soul. This is the pivotal point that holds the mystery of life. It is from here that our attention continually descends and spreads into the world through the nine outlets of the body … From here every minute the mind wanders out. It does not sit still at this spot even for a moment. Its activities are legion. The ageless secret, the ancient wisdom, the path of the saints lies in drawing the attention back to this point.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol 1
Meditation should be the first item on our to do list because it cleanses all the coverings which have accumulated on the soul. It helps us cope with stress and gives us strong mental resilience to deal with the events around us. It keeps us from being derailed by external events and helps us realize that this world is but a passing shadow.
Instead of focusing on our problems, which are a natural result of our own karmas, we should be looking at solutions and moving forward. We should not waste our energies in worrying about things we cannot change, and should remain focused on the positive aspects of the path before us.
Our lives can be as simple or as complicated as we choose to make them. We all know that we need to do our meditation, that it should be the number one priority in our list of things to do. In fact, all the four vows that we took at the time of initiation form the forefront of our to do list.
But we also need to weed out all the worrying and distractions that can sway the mind away from its focus. We need to veer away from any activity that takes us away from our objective – these form the things that we should not do. How often do we walk away from an argument? How often do we criticize our fellow human beings? The five passions of anger, pride, attachment, greed and lust are all energy drainers that are designed to lure us away from the path of truth. How much stress would we eliminate if we were guided by such a philosophy, if we decided to devote each day to only that which is worthy of our attention?
We have certain responsibilities and duties which we must do in this world. At the same time we should not get so much involved in these things that we forget the real purpose for which we want these things. These are just a means to a certain end. We should not be so much involved in the means that we forget the end. The end should always be kept in view, and what we should do is to try to achieve that end.
Maharaj Charan Singh, The Master Answers