By Anil Bhatnagar April 2002 Numerous personal growth techniques are available today. But for most of us, they seem to be placed on a pan without a flame. How to ignite our passion for self-growth, so that we can use the techniques of our choice to get some concrete results? How do we get ourselves to practice consistently and regularly? These are pivotal questions that most of us have not even begun asking It is 7 a.m. Sudhir slips out of bed. His wife hands him the newspaper along with his morning tea. A little later, he manages to catch the chartered bus to office and congratulates himself for making it in time once again. He begins with a yawn (something that he will punctuate his day many times with) another day of files, papers, meetings, e-mails, telephone calls and gossip. At the end of the day, though he has not done anything substantial, he is quite tired. Evenings are usually spent watching TV after a short post-dinner stroll with his wife and inquiring about their daughter. Sundays begin late and are spent socializing, long afternoon naps, reading magazines, watching TV or visiting his parents. Sudhir’s life is not very different from that of his colleagues who are not as aware of the possibilities for self-growth as he is. He is forever postponing plans to give himself time to grow and realize his potential. As per a conservative estimate, there are over 70 million people like Sudhir whose life remains almost the same as others, though they have come to learn some personal growth technique. If only they would practice what they have learnt, this number is sufficient to trigger a ‘hundredth monkey’ phenomenon to raise the level of consciousness of the human race. Thirty million people have learnt yoga, two million Sudarshan Kriya, three million have been initiated into reiki, one million have attended vipassana retreats. Tens of millions of people have read the bestsellers of Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and Dale Carnegie. Many more throng to the lectures of spiritual teachers and watch them on television channels like Aastha and Sanskar. However, delicious food is futile where there is no appetite. Great self-growth techniques, gurus and books can help you provided you are hungry enough to use them. Today we tend to outsource all our responsibilities to experts for a fee. There are event managers to organize every major event of our lives. So, we tend to even outsource spiritual growth to an organization or guru, not realizing that others can only serve the food; they cannot chew it for us. And we will chew, swallow and assimilate only if we have the appetite. Many among us never realize that merely learning a technique is of little use, if not practiced. Vikas Malkani, author, motivator and founder of Soulcentre in Delhi, emphatically says that nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without self-discipline and perseverance. Human beings can drive out the essence from any system or practice and reduce it to trivialities that provide only the false psychological feeling of being ‘into’ it, absolving us from the trouble of understanding and living it. We turn every ‘food for the spirit’ into ‘food for our ego’. Look at the way we have become fanatics—trying to make the world switch to our religion and view of truth, even if at the cost of thousands of sacred lives—including our own! S.N. Goenka, the spearhead of the Vipassana movement, says: ‘Initially people with knowledge carried the flaming torch to spread light. With time the flames have got extinguished and what is left are mere sticks—and with these sticks we are beating each other.’ If only we could learn to live by our religion instead of for it! We spend hours comparing the greatness of different spiritual gurus and practices, not realizing that proving the greatness of our master or technique in no way makes us any better than we actually are. God has not sent soldiers in us to protect a particular religion or belief system. He has sent a spark of Him within us, which needs to be discovered and lived till through its constant awareness we become ‘it’. The techniques, methods, gurus and scriptures are God’s gifts to achieve this purpose. The need to add labels (of having learnt this technique or the other, the gurus we have learnt from or the scriptures we have memorized) is the need of our false self. Our real self, the God self, does not need any of labels. Think for a moment the body of knowledge available to the millions of Sudhirs if they could just start using it. What we need is not a new means to salvation, but an awareness, understanding and realization of all that we already have. Such awareness is essential to shift our focus from merely learning (and gratifying our ego thereby) to ‘practicing consistently’. D.R. Kaarthikeyan, former CBI director and now President of Life Positive, says: ‘I have total faith in practice. Theoretical knowledge is fine for the intellect. It is by emotional involvement and practice alone that the intended results follow. The faith comes from one’s being able to realize the benefits.’ When we allow the means to become more important than the goals, they cease to remain as means. One common denominator for all those who could realize their divinity has not been superior technique or guru but superior determination to stay on the path without losing sight of the ultimate goal. The concept of a ‘path’ may not appeal to those who subscribe to Jiddu Krishnamurti’s view of Truth as a ‘pathless land’, reiterated recently by Eckhart Tolle. But not toeing a path and being in the ‘now’ also needs to be practiced. All of us have the seed to become our real Being, but we forget to nurture it. Before we seek a guru, technique or ‘ism’, we need to fan this spark of intention into a wild fire of yearning that consumes the forest of our negativities. Without this, all tools and techniques are like a pan without a fire underneath. I am giving some concrete suggestions to keep you on your path, but reading these does not obviate your responsibility for ‘practicing them. KNOW AND LOVE YOURSELF Results come from doing, not merely by knowing or learning. Then why is it that many of us care only to know and not use what we learn with so much effort? This is because we might have reasons other than self-growth for learning anything. We might want to break life’s monotony or impress others. We might not want to be left behind in the race, or seek to prove ourselves different, even fill the vacuum that our ego feels. Above all, we might learn for letting others know that we have learnt it and thereby have their approval. These factors do not help us stay on our path because the purpose of learning gets fulfilled the moment we acquire a label. Why are we more concerned about others’ approval than with actually transforming ourselves? Because we don’t love ourselves enough. We choose to live an eventless life for the fear of failure. We want to fulfill our dreams without working for them. So we either disown our dreams or scale them down. Such compromises create a spiritual void within as our soul’s longing to fulfill its real purpose is ignored. It is easier to be lazy and even easier to merely exist than to live a vibrant life. The difference between those who choose to exist, and those who choose to live, is that of motivation. You could be either. To be among the inspired ones, you need to make a conscious choice. Your doubt as to whether things will work out often stands between you and your dreams. Doubt this doubt. Trust the universe and your divinity. The way to a fulfilled life is the way that gets us closer to universal spiritual principles. When we grow spiritually we grow on all fronts as a ‘whole’. I was once asked how I managed to practice what I had learnt and also learn new things. I replied: ‘Just by loving myself enough!’ Stand in front of the mirror every morning and smile. Say many times that you love yourself, and feel it deeply. Say that you value yourself immensely and hence will utilize this present moment as a priceless opportunity for spiritual growth. What you usually give your time to shall stay here in this world. It will not add any value to the real you that survives your physical death. To invest in spiritual growth is the wisest, for its fruits are permanent. They may or may not be as tangible as material things, but they stay with you whether your body stays or not. Make no compromises on that! BECOME AWARE OF TORQUES ACTING ON YOUR LIFE Sangeet Srivastava, a senior executive in a PSU who has learnt yoga, pranayam and reiki, says that he repeatedly resolved to be regular with his practice but failed every time. Says he: ‘The least I feel like doing reiki is when I am stressed and need it the most.’ What people like Sangeet need is a reinforcement of their ‘Growth or ‘G Torque’ and weaken their ‘Status Quo or SQ Torque’. These are my terms for the two forces eternally acting upon us, to maintain ‘status quo’ or to ‘help us grow’. Let me explain. When we open a tap by applying anti-clockwise force, we work against a clockwise frictional force that keeps the tap shut. The tap will start opening only if the force being applied is stronger than the clockwise frictional force. In physics, forces that enable us to rotate an object about its axis are known as torques. The size of the torque is a multiple of the intensity of force being applied and its distance from the axis about which the rotation is taking place. This means that the other factor remaining the same, the larger the intensity of the force or larger the distance from the axis, the more the torque. In ou
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