Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changing People to What You Want

I’ve been reflecting over this last week on the acceptance of people as they are.  We often have an underlying expectation that people should change to our liking. This is sometimes even verbally said in arguments “Why can’t you be more ___”?  I believe that there is an important role for talking things out, educating and learning from each other, and inspiring others. I also think that its important to realize that we can’t be constantly wanting to mold people into what we want them to be. This actually speaks to the state of our own mind. Instead of controlling our own thoughts, we constantly try to control our environment and the people in it. If they aren’t exactly as we desire, our minds go out of control and we get angry. Then our state of peace is completely dependent on other people! 

Somehow the timing on the kathas and videos I watch often seems to relate exactly to what I’ve been reflecting on. I was watching the katha “Ocean of Fire part 3” from, and Simar Singh explains this very well. He explains that we cannot control other people, how they feel, and what they think. We can learn to control our own minds, and learn to stop our thoughts through simran. He also explained that although thoughts (remember thoughts are maya) are necessary to function in the world, if we don’t control our thoughts they control us. Therefore, our goal is to get to that spiritual state where things will not affect us anymore. Think about how the Guru Arjan Dev Ji was able to sit on the hot plate with hot hand poured on his body. Training our mind is important in order to achieve this level of inner peace. Remember that is the only real way to conquer our anger because anger is part of the 5 thieves- kaam, krodh, lob, moh, hankaar, and therefore the only way to beat it, is not to create the thought of anger in the first place. This is only possible by being in control of our mind.  It’s also important to develop the mindset of being loving, forgiving and non-judgmental. If we want to meet God, we need to develop the qualities of God. That requires practice. We can remind ourselves, I’m looking right now at a person, and this person is also the child of God.

In the meantime while we work on achieving that state, we can find ways to manage and prevent our anger, like identifying hot button issues, taking time to cool off, and finding ways to communicate our needs. The strategies look different for different people, so I'm going to leave that thought with you. 

Personally, I'm finding that I'm having to un-learn a lot of stuff that I learned over this lifetime. Now I’m learning knowledge about our body and mind from Gurbani, and that’s starting to reveal a different way of living. It’s an uncomfortable process because I constantly am challenging my brain to think differently and it results in a great confusion for a while. Part of me says “but everyone said this was true since I was little, I thought it was right!” I mean even supposedly profound quotes I’ve seen sometimes on facebook or pinterest make my stomach churn because at some point in the past I might have thought “that’s true, that’s how we should all live” and now those same words don’t mesh well with me and the life I am choosing to live. I saw a really long quote from Meryl Streep on pinterest the other day. It didn’t sound too bad at first glance because it was talking about not spending time with people who aren’t uplifting you, which is the equivalent to talking about the importance of sangat. But then it just became a list of things she wasn’t going to put up with, or accept, or tolerate- she even said she doesn’t smile at people who don’t smile at her. I think at some point in the past I would have thought that was a useful quote about how to be a no-nonsense kind of strong, independent woman. Today I think its not very accepting, forgiving, loving, or welcoming and that’s not the kind of woman I want to be. There’s a line there- you don’t have to choose to hang out with people who are constantly bringing you down- she was right about that, but at the same time what happened to seeing people as people and accepting them as they are? So I’m finding now that I’m temporarily in this new territory where things are really uncomfortable for me. I think that discomfort is leading to a lot of personal growth for me but in the meantime it makes it confusing, and I'm hoping to continue to share as I am learning more from Gurbani. 

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