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What Attitude!

Try not to get worried,
  try not to turn on to problems that upset you,
Don’t you know everything’s alright?
Yes, everything’s fine …
Let the world turn without you tonight …
Close your eyes…
  think of nothing tonight.
Jesus Christ Superstar, “Everything’s Alright”

These lyrics from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” written over fifty years ago, depicted an ancient world in political and spiritual turmoil. It reminds us that where the world is concerned, nothing really changes. The most powerful line in this song is when Christ responds in a verse, “Look at the good things you’ve got, think while you still have me, move while you still see me, you’ll be sorry when I’m gone.” Christ's warning invites the disciples to switch their attitude of fear and negativity to one of gratitude, acceptance, and balance amid the turmoil. "Let the world turn without you tonight."

Cultivating the right attitude to maintain inner happiness through the ups and downs of life is an essential ally of spiritual transformation. Nurturing this quality within ourselves builds a strong foundation on our spiritual journey. It would be wonderful if we could wake up one day and possess a “good” attitude towards everything in our life.

First of all, the gift of the right attitude toward God, the path, our families, our work and others is not one that can be purchased. This gift is only acquired through patient, persistent, daily practice. In Buddhism, it is said that the unshakable deliverance of the mind in cultivating “right attitude” is greater than all worldly honours and fame.

But at no point on this journey called life can we quickly annihilate the thing called mind, switch how we think and feel about things we experience, and once and for all develop a good or right attitude. Because we are human, we are always vulnerable to being caught up in illusion and responding in a manner that is not in our best interest. We typically and very humanly react from a narrow intellectual and emotional perspective.

Even though it seems that seeing “reality” should be a straightforward matter, we may have discovered that as the author David Brooks says: “Seeing well is not natural. It is an act of humility. It means getting your own self – your own need and wishes – out of the way, so that you can see the thing you are looking at as itself, and not just as a mirror of your own interests.”1

Then there is the emotional nature of being human. Developing emotional intelligence helps us know what to feel in certain situations and learn to see things in a balanced manner and respond from that place of balance.

We can’t turn on a dime, as the saying goes, and develop the kind of attitude that will help us in our transformation on the path home. It takes practice and effort. For some of us, the first step is to recognize our attitude towards things that come before us. Where can we begin? First, we can realize that our relationship with the Master is purely spiritual and exists for our soul's life and growth. Secondly, what is painful now when approached with the proper attitude will, in the end, bring joy.

Maharaj Charan Singh puts the correct spin on this when he says:

Well, if one is a satsangi, then there’s nothing to worry about.… But when we say our destiny is set, the events of life are already chalked out and we just have to go through that, good or bad, then what is there to worry about? It’s not going to change the events of life. If we have that attitude, then why worry?2

Hazur is suggesting to us a state of mind, an attitude, which may help us on the path. Yet, we are prone to get stuck in our anger, jealousy, envy, worry, and in doing so, cling to things of this phenomenal world and forget the truth that we are seeking. We allow our thoughts and perceptions to drag us down, and this becomes apparent in our attitude of non-acceptance.

Since we created our karmas, our challenge is to build better and nobler mansions for our souls. How does this happen? Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:

The purpose of meditation is just for that. The purpose of meditation is to train ourselves to adopt that attitude. It’s not easy; it’s a lifelong struggle, no doubt. But that is the purpose of meditation – to develop that attitude of accepting things as they come.3

The Dominican fourteenth-century friar known as Meister Eckhart suggested that we must die to ourselves and receive everything as from God and remain in unruffled patience with all men. This attitude will support our quest, but it takes commitment.

A disciple asked Hazur:

So, it’s a matter of clearing away everything in life that is unnecessary, of making that choice?

Hazur answered:

No, it’s a matter of changing the attitude of your mind. You have to do your worldly work; you have to discharge your responsibilities, your obligations. But your attitude of mind can be one-pointed, focused within. Then you don’t forget your goal, your destination.4

And we can have that attitude and bent of mind only if we attend to meditation. Only with the help of meditation will we be able to build peace within ourselves. This path of devotion requires adjustment of our entire way of life. In Many Voices, One Song, it says:

… a way that includes development of the attitude and practices that support devotion.… When disciples practise meditation and mould their lives according to these qualities, a virtuous circle is created – a positive attitude leads to a way of life that supports meditation, which in turn generates a positive attitude and way of life that leads to more focused meditation.5

Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:

That habit of attending to meditation also creates an attitude of our mind.… We have to change the attitude of our mind by meditation. Now the attitude of our mind is outward – downward and outward. Then the attitude of the mind becomes inward, upward. We have to change our attitude of mind.6

The Master tells us that we can do it. “Everything is alright … let the world turn without you tonight.” Let our world turn around our meditation. As Master says, when you attend to your meditation, everything will come from within, and the mind will automatically be moulded in his light, and your whole approach will change.

  1. David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Universe, p. 197
  2. Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, # 162
  3. Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, # 165
  4. Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, # 217
  5. Many Voices, One Song, p. 103
  6. Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, # 497