The Mind Is Its Own Place
How many times do we unwittingly find ourselves with a knotted brow and a mind in turmoil over some unwelcome trouble? For many this state of mind comes as naturally as the sun slipping beneath the horizon every day.
A friend of mine once caught himself worrying about the fact that he was not worrying. He was so used to feeling worried that an anxiety-free moment caught him off guard. So what was he to do? Well, naturally he slipped into worrying about having nothing to worry about. Yet today he is still here and doing far better than he was back then. So what was he worrying about all the time?
Another friend, who had been going through an incredibly difficult time, suddenly one day found herself walking down the street singing loudly with happiness. She had turned the corner at last, and found faith that whatever the outcome of her travails, ultimately everything would be all right. She had faith in God.
As satsangis and seekers, we betray ourselves when we worry. The Master has made us a wonderful, golden promise – to take us out of this world of turbulent strife and troubling pain and to return us to our ancient, eternal home. Our part is just to be faithful to our vows and sit in meditation every day.
Yet, when troubles do visit us in this world and we have what may seem like a real reason to worry, the promise of liberation may seem no more real than the fading shadow of a barely remembered dream.
When this happens, it can help to remind ourselves what it is like to be in the company of the Master. When we are in his majestic and powerful presence, touched by his humility and awed by his love, in a deep quiet place within ourselves, we know that our ultimate destiny is beyond this world.
As we are often reminded, this physical world is no more than a shadow land where the constant interplay of dark and light creates the environment in which we live. One day we may be high up in the world, sitting on a velvet throne and admired by many; the next we could be among the lowest, sitting destitute on the roadside, slandered and despised.
This is the way of the world. So why should we worry? It won’t change anything; it won’t alter the course of destiny. It is not going to make any difference. But it might leave us with a face furrowed by deep lines – enough to scare any child – and a state of mind like a stormy night.
It was the seventeenth-century English poet, John Milton, who said: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” In the same vein, Shakespeare’s Hamlet spoke the words: “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
In short, we can make of any situation what we will. Of course, it’s less than pleasant to have to face troubles that can cause a great deal of worry – such as calumny, slander and bankruptcy. But when the winds of adversity are strong, we can take steps to protect ourselves.
Simran can be a refuge in such times if we do it with intensity and love. And action is always a positive thing: we can take practical steps to address the problems that are causing us anxiety – in fact, we have a duty to ourselves to do so. But once we’ve done that, we should figuratively present our worries to the inner Master and leave everything to him.
Henry Ford, the great American entrepreneur, once said: “I believe God is managing affairs and that he doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”
Look at what Henry Ford went on to achieve – the world’s first mass-produced car and an industry that today helps sustain millions of people the world over. Did he reach his goals by fretful worrying? Not likely.
The Buddha said: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Let’s not forget: this path is one of sublime brilliance. It is the royal road to our dimly remembered, ancient and glorious home; the gateway to our true being. The Master is the graceful guide who has revealed the way; the true friend, the selflessly loving Father who is guiding us to our true home. So why worry?
It is mankind’s misuse or abuse and our own attitude towards things that make us miserable. Try to develop contentment and indifference. Be happy in what the Lord sends, do your duty with love and devotion, and take life as it comes.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light
The disciple should also adopt the attitude of contentment which too is essential for moral conduct and spiritual progress.… As contentment enters the heart, desire leaves. Along with desire, worry also disappears.