Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Inner Life

The outer world is going through a strange and turbulent cycle at the present time. There seem to be so many uncertainties out there for so many people in a way that, only a few years ago, few of us might have imagined. When the world apparently takes a downward dip, it is the very best time to turn within and develop a greater awareness of our inner life.

There is an ongoing inner life that has been present since before we were born. Yet many of us rarely give our attention to it. Many of us today are so fixated on outer activity and events that we remain oblivious to what is happening deep inside on the inner levels of being.

It is an excellent time for meditative practices. Turning within and being aware of the inner light is a stabilizing force. When we experience our own inner light, it radiates outward to the whole world. Turning within toward the inner light projects an uplifting energy to those around us. And now is a time when the world needs light the most.

Now is the time when it is most productive to focus on how to be helpful to others, how to be supportive, nurturing, and kind. These are the qualities most of us need to develop, and the world as it is today is providing the perfect opportunity to develop them. It is good to be aware of what is happening, and to remember to not get caught up in the outer dramas, including how the media describes current reality.

There is a verse in the Shrimad Bhagavatam that says: Truly wise is he who is unstirred by praise or blame, by love or hatred. He is not moved by the opposites of life. Indeed, he delights in the blissful Self.

Can we remain unstirred by praise or blame, or by love or hatred? Imagine what a steady mind is required to remain free from such influences. Today many of us are challenged by the opposites of life. It is the way the world has to be for us to experience the greatest inner growth. Life is designed so that we can grow through facing whatever is presented to us, and in this process we delight in the blissful Self.

Ordinarily in life we get caught up in mental details, in habitual ways of describing conditions and situations. Even with a sincere desire to break free from this, we find it very challenging. Some power seems to pull us back into delusion in spite of ourselves. It is important to know how to break free from deluding influences.

At the root of all the principles of Truth is the inner Self of all beings, pure Consciousness. We serve ourselves and others simply by remembering this simple Truth once again.

Remember to love and respect your own Self, and to be aware that the same Self dwells within all. We are all mirrors of the same infinite Awareness, and we see reflections of ourselves everywhere and in everything.

Do not get caught up in outer appearances, or this world might sometimes appear to be an unkind place. If we can recognize and love the Self in its multitude of forms, no matter how challenging they sometimes are, we will live a life of contentment.

Today the world has taken many bizarre manifestations. Especially at this time, in this moment, see the same divine Being in all things. No matter what happens around you, live in the Truth of the present moment.

When we see and experience the equal divinity of everything, we will experience our own divinity. We will experience that within ourselves that divinity shines on forever. The pure Self of all lives in eternity, in the eternal now. God has already given us everything. All we have to do is recognize and appreciate our own true nature.

Imagine what it might be like to go through life seeing everyone, each detail of the world, and all the situations and conditions of life as equally divine. The first step, after all, is to imagine what it might be like. If we don’t take that first step, we have no way of getting there from here.

Realize the tremendous amount of conditioning that has gone into us thinking lowly of ourselves, and seeing the impurities and imperfections of people around us, and in the world in general. The mind has been taught to describe things in the most grotesque ways. Everything in life has been limited, constrained, and we have learned to see the worst in people, and to be blind to their true greatness. Of course, since we are each blind to our own greatness, it makes it all the easier.

Imagine the revelation that will take place when we realize that everything in life is already pure and perfect exactly as it is, that each detail is as God has created it. This revelation can take place at any point—even now—if we open up to it and allow it to happen. First we can glimpse the beauty and perfection of this world, and then we can gradually focus on it more and more until it becomes absolutely clear.

We can look at the tragedies and catastrophes of the world, the immense suffering that goes on in so many places, and ask, how is this pure and perfect? Still, for the purpose of inner work, the true question is, what do we have to do in order to see purity and perfection in everything?

Can apparent suffering be pure and perfect as it is? We can develop this pure vision simply through strengthening our capacity of compassion. Through pure compassion, we can see the beauty and perfection in all the suffering of this world.

As we work on seeing the divinity of the outer world, we can also work on experiencing the divinity of our own Self. These two things always go together. The outer world is basically a reflection of our own inner consciousness. We see qualities and conditions in the world and others according to the qualities and conditions we recognize in ourselves. For this reason we need to develop the discipline to always see the highest.

When we recognize our own divinity we see the divinity of the whole world, and vice versa. When we see divinity wherever we look, we become divine while still in this body. We already are divine, as we were created from pure divinity, yet we need the conscious recognition of it in order to experience it. This is what is ultimately gained through focusing on the inner life, and we shall see that the inner life is the essence of our existence, both in this world and throughout eternity.