By Narayan Romano
February 7, 2017.
I received an email last week from someone saying, “I don’t like you.” I can understand where they were coming from! There have been times when I haven’t liked myself. Yet, self-deprecation is not humility. Forgetting our little self by loving God and serving Him in all leads to true humility. Simple, but not always easy to do!
The next day someone told me, “I didn’t like when you said…” They felt I had not heard their point of view. Surely, I could have done a better job in being sensitive to their perspective and listening. I strive to listen to understand people, not to respond with my own agenda. This was one of those “I have not yet succeeded,” moments. I apologized and we moved on.
When we are criticized the subconscious mind wants to react negatively, blame others and the world around us. This is a defense mechanism of the ego. Rather than reforming ourselves we want to reform others and the world around us. Quite simply, it’s easier to criticize others and judge the world. When we learn to turn the searchlight within and use that energy to change ourselves, then we can begin to make progress. As a friend of mine once said, “Fire in the oven is good…fire in the forest is bad.”
One of the first ways we can overcome the pendulum of our likes and dislikes is by practicing acceptance. When we’re in our likes and dislikes, we’re catering to our subconscious lower nature. Swami Kriyananda shares how to practice acceptance in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita:
“All human suffering is due to the thought that things ought to be other than they are. Even great physical pain can be transcended, after accepting it as it is. Try this practice: First, calmly recognize its existence. Second, center yourself in the heart of that pain. Finally, simply release it! You will find that complete acceptance of it empowers you to do that relinquishing.”
After a close friend passed away suddenly, I experienced grief. Rather than suppressing the painful feeling, I tried the above practice. I found it very helpful to offer that meanness of the heart up for purification.
We’ll never change by suppression. In fact, the above commentary is on Krishna’s advice in chapter 3 of the Gita, “Of what avail would be mere suppression?” (Nayaswami Anandi gave a beautiful service on this topic. Watch on Youtube).
After we calmly accept pain, only then can it be transmuted into God’s light. As Paramhansa Yogananda says in his poem Samadhi:
Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being!