DAAJI continues his series on everyday living, introducing the tenth universal principle of the User’s Guide, which is a prayerful approach to continuous self-improvement. This principle nurtures self-acceptance and allows us to appreciate that we are a work in progress. It offers a method to observe ourselves with self-compassion instead of guilt and shame. It also develops the gratitude and humility to work on changing ourselves, to acknowledge how our lives are interwoven, how to be kind to ourselves, first, and how to be kind to others as a natural outcome. The result is that we rekindle the childlike innocence and sense of wonder that brings so much joy to everyday living.
Within five elements are ten universal principles:
1 Create a daily morning meditation practice scientifically
2 Fill your heart with love before starting meditation and before sleeping
3 Fix your goal and do not rest until you attain it
4 Live simply to be in tune with Nature
5 Be truthful & accept challenges as being for your betterment
Behavior Being to Doing
6 Know everyone as one, treating them equally & harmoniously
7 Do not seek revenge for the wrongs done by others, instead always be grateful
8 Honor the resources you are given as sacred, with an attitude of purity, including food and money
9 Become a role model by inspiring love and sacredness in others. Accept the richness of their diversity, while also accepting that we are all one
10 Introspect daily before bedtime, so as to correct your faults and avoid making the same mistake twice
At bedtime, feeling the presence of God, repent for any wrongs committed unknowingly. Beg forgiveness in a supplicant mood and prayerfully resolve not to allow repetition of the same.
To err is human. To strive to improve is also human.
Finally, we come to the tenth principle of Heartfulness, which focuses on continuous improvement. With the help of the preceding nine principles we experience expansion of consciousness and refine our values, behavior and relationships, and now the tenth principle takes us to the next level, with a very simple daily practice that helps us to become the best version of ourselves.
Have you noticed yet that Principle 1 starts the day, before dawn, with the early morning practice of meditation, and Principle 10 ends the day, just before sleep, with the prayerful practice of continuous improvement? In between, the other eight principles focus on lifestyle during our waking hours.
After reading this article, you will also realize that the practice of Principle 10 is one of the best ways to work with the other principles.
Continuous improvement consists of two aspects:
The first is to recognize and acknowledge our mistakes, then to repent and ask forgiveness, and finally to resolve not to repeat the same mistakes again.
The second is to prevent the same mistakes from happening again; in other words, to let go of past patterns and open ourselves to a nobler, simpler way of living that is in tune with Nature.
It is the combination of these two aspects that enables continuous self-improvement.
Why is Principle 10 practiced before bedtime?
The answer is simple really, given the natural daily cycle: Before going to sleep, we wind down. Our daily activities are over, we are preparing for rejuvenative sleep, and if we are in tune with natural cycles our autonomic nervous system has switched into parasympathetic mode. Our breathing is calmer, our whole energy system is relaxed, and our brainwaves are slowing down so that we automatically access the subconscious realms more readily. We find ourselves in a comparatively free state. Babuji calls it “Nature’s state of contentment.”
It is a good time for introspection and reflection. We are quiet and more likely to accept our shortcomings and work with them constructively. Deeper patterns and memories start to surface. The ego, which is much more reactive during the day when the energy of the sympathetic nervous system is activated, becomes more assenting and less reactive as the parasympathetic system is dominant. So, we make use of the daily cycles to choose the best time to evaluate and correct ourselves, when it is likely to have the greatest effect.
When we go to sleep after this practice of self-improvement, we also assimilate the changes in awareness from our short-term memory into the long-term memory centers of the brain, so that eventually new patterns will form. These new patterns need to become subconscious and thus automatic for real change to happen. Each night, using Principle 10, we are dissolving unproductive patterns and reconfiguring the cognates, in an open yielding heartful state that is the most conducive to adaptation and change. There is a letting go rather than any recrimination. Self-compassion is a natural outcome of this practice.
The more we develop this habit by doing it every night, the more automatic it becomes, and the easier it is to respond the same way during the rest of the 24 hours. Otherwise it is very difficult. Why? We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. The problem lies in our reaction when we do. Often, we don’t admit to our mistakes, even to ourselves, for fear of punishment, embarrassment or ridicule, and because we have been taught since childhood to feel guilt and shame for them. Remember that emotions like fear, anger, stress, anxiety, guilt and shame in the subtle body activate the “fight, flight or freeze response” in our physiology, and when that kicks in no clear thinking is possible. The autonomic nervous system has switched into sympathetic mode, survival mode, and it is primed to attack, defend or freeze.
As a result, instead of gently correcting and improving ourselves, we hide our mistakes and blame others, including parents, partners, coworkers, and the general environment – we deny, cover-up, lie, resist, and lash out. These are the reactions of the ego, which surfaces when our sense of survival is threatened, even when the threat is only perceived and not real.
Actually, it all depends upon what the ego identifies with. When the ego identifies mainly with the body, we will attack or defend with the physical body; when it identifies with the mind, we will attack or defend with the mind; in most people it is a combination of the two. When the ego identifies with the soul, we are not so concerned with defending the body or the mind, so we remain centered and focused on our inner state. We are less likely to react, attack or defend, because the soul is immutable and unchangeable, so it is not under threat. We do not flip into that ancient survival mechanism of the “fight, flight or freeze response.”
These days, it is rare to find individuals who willingly take ownership of their mistakes, seek forgiveness, and resolve not to repeat the same mistakes again and again. This is because most people are in chronic low-level stress mode, primed for attack or defense. Yet it is impossible to be a true seeker without cultivating this attitude of repentance.
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