Let’s Look at It Positively
Every day we have a choice: to be positive or negative. The essence of spirituality is to be positive: to be clear-cut, definite, forward-looking and decisive. Having a positive attitude means we are willing to commit and to do, without complaint, the work that will lead us to our objective. With a negative attitude, however, our mind is not set on the job and we have lost the race before we’ve even begun.
Whatever our goal, a positive frame of mind will not only help us achieve it but also allow us to enjoy ourselves along the way. It will keep us contented, whatever difficulties we face. But while an optimist looks at a rose bush and enjoys its beautiful, fragrant flowers, a pessimist sees only thorns.
With a positive attitude, our problems do not weaken us but rather make us stronger. Even when things are not going our way, we know they will get better. What is more, when we believe in ourselves and feel confident, this actually boosts our capabilities. By motivating ourselves to keep forging ahead, we build determination. But having a negative view weakens us, always. So no matter how difficult a situation we are going through, it serves us best to steer clear of negative thinking.
How can we do that? Well, every time we think negatively, we should consciously reverse that thought and turn it into something positive. All we need to do is find a positive perspective to what is going on around us. There is always something good taking place, and it is our job to find it.
The negative person is grumpy, sad and dissatisfied. He says things aren’t going well for him. He moans and groans. If the weather is fine, he says it’s too hot; if it rains, it’s too wet. If he has a problem, he regards it as very serious and likely to get worse; he is without hope. A positive person, on the other hand, is cheerful, smiling and pleasant. If he has a problem, he is confident that it can be overcome. If the problem is permanent, he will find ways to cope with it. He is full of hope. When faced with difficulties, he finds the challenge useful and interesting; he tries to make things easier, and simplifies things. A negative person magnifies his weaknesses, regrets his past actions, feels tense and is worried about the future. A positive person puts his faults into perspective and leaves the past behind him; he is relaxed, and looks forward to the future with confidence.
Whether our outlook is positive or negative also has a direct bearing on our experience of meditation. With a negative attitude, meditation can seem a hard struggle, in which we are making no progress; we feel alone, cling to our problems and postpone our meditation. But having a positive attitude gives us the determination to persevere in our meditation and the confidence that we are not alone; confronted with a problem, we will sit in meditation first, then try to solve it.
Positivity engenders concentration. We may feel some days that our meditation has lacked concentration, that it was “no good”; but the Master says that all meditation is good. Every moment devoted to meditation, never mind its quality, is to our credit. Being positive about our meditation means being patient, moving a little further forward every day, with each scrap of effort – but mostly with his grace. We must leave the results to him.
To be positive is to be the recipient of God’s grace. It is to be humble, which means not being conscious of anyone’s imperfections, including even our own. We trust in the Lord that we are being helped in a thousand ways. Trust is the most powerful way of getting closer to the Master, and this is the most deeply satisfying aspect of Sant Mat.
Taking a positive approach means having faith: believing that the path we follow is taking us back to the divine. Everything that happens to us along the way is coming from him, and takes us closer to home. The mind may see these things as good or bad, but we can learn to consider them as expressions of the Lord’s grace. Then we can say to him: Everything you do, everything you decide, is sweet to me.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well…
T.S. Eliot, extract from Four Quartets