God has gifted us this beautiful physique with ample resources to live it beautifully by harnessing them appropriately. Though the body has been engineered very meticulously, a high profile brain with sound immunization system has also been built in to take care immediately if there happens to be some disorder in our maintenance. As and when there has been a major disorder or accident, the body develops symptoms to alert the owner to take care and if that is not taken, the condition gets deteriorated. Sometime, due to severe deterioration, the body mechanism stops working and we are declared dead. And the people say that such and such gentle person expired on such and such date due to this or that reason.
In course of time, man evolved various methods of treatment of different diseases as and when he came across the symptoms with most of the time and energy on research. In process, many lives were lost and some suffered side effects or wrong treatments. With the passage of time, different methods of treatment took places using herbs, chemicals, systems etc. Most of the diseases are created by us on account of our worries regarding our education, children, jobs, living styles, environmental pollution, social complexities, greed, post-retirement benefits, our accommodation and other essential needs, our eating habits, lacking nutrients, taking junk foods etc. But still, precautions are considered to be the best in place of treatment post-ailment except when you unfortunately meet with some accident.
With the experience of life, we have now been sure that if we understand well what our physique requires in a particular set of circumstances like our job, climatic situations like quality of drinking water and air, sanitation, locally available ingredients for eatables and our finances, we can take precautions so that we are able to enjoy what God gifted us. If in normal life we keep care of the divine virtues like Attention, Beauty, Compassion, Connections, Devotion, Enthusiasm, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Gratitude, Hope, Hospitality, Imagination, Joy, Justice, Kindness, Listening, Love, Meaning, Nurturing, Openness, Peace, Play, Questing, Reverence, Shadow, Silence, Teachers, Transformation, Unity, Vision, Wonder, The Mystery, Yearning and zeal etc., we can lead our lives beautifully and our earth may become heaven for all.
The quality of your life depends on the quality of attention you exercise. Whatever you pay attention to, that will grow to be important in your life accordingly. Attention can be practiced anywhere, anytime, in the daily rounds of our lives. It is also known as mindfulness, awareness, concentration, recollection and comparison with the options available. It is a primary practice for your success, to let you active and keep far away from depression and other corollary diseases. We must stay alert or we risk missing critical elements of the life — moments of grace, opportunities for gratitude, evidence of our connections to others etc.
If you begin by doing one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on whatever you happen to be doing at the moment, you will discover a world of ceaseless wonders.
God has made this universe beautiful. It depends upon us how we look at. Clutter gets in the way of beauty. If we have too many things and tasks in front of us, we may not notice what is beautiful about them. The contrast is simplicity; by paring away excesses, we make an opening for splendor. Beauty is both a path we travel and what surrounds us on the path. Its cultivation produces pleasure. In the splendor of the Creation, we see its outer forms. In morality and benevolence, we recognize its inner expressions.
We may start this practice with the assumption that beauty is everywhere just waiting for us to notice it. We may allow ourselves to feel its effect upon our soul. We may make our actions reflections of the beauty all around us.
Compassion is a feeling deep within us being affected by the suffering of others and moving on their behalf. It is often likened to opening the heart. Like a mother who protects her child, her only child, with her own life, one should cultivate a heart of unlimited love and compassion towards all living beings.
We may ask ourselves to feel the suffering in the world, including our own. We should not turn away from pain; move toward it with caring. We may go into situations where people are hurting. We may identify with our neighbors in their distress and expand the circle of our compassion to include other creatures, nature and the inanimate world. The practice of compassion will increase our capacity to care. It may reinforce charity, empathy, and sympathy. Medically, it is very good exercise for our heart muscle.
You know! Everything is interrelated — in time, space, and our very being. Both religion and science reveal this truth. We are made up of five elements very intelligently. Lack of balance creates a number of problems. Similarly, one thing always leads to another. Everything is related to everything else. You practice connections, then, by consciously tracing the links connecting you with other beings. Any point is a good starting place — your family line, your work, your back yard. The practice of connections reinforces holistic thinking and our awareness of how the spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of our being inter-penetrating and nourishing each other. It enables us to see the big picture. Separateness is an illusion. You can not live in isolation in society for long. If ever it could have been possible, God had not made us dependent upon many environmental factors.
Devotion takes many forms: the solemnity and joy of prayer; the ecstasy of song, poetry, or art; the intimate connection between individuals in marriage, family, or community. It involves opening the heart fully to the presence of love and beauty, which brings a compassionate and reverent awareness of the Divine in all things. Through the lens of devotion, every aspect of creation is seen as purposeful and hence received in gratitude.
We may begin devotion by cultivating our own garden by picking as many seeds to plant as we desire. We may water them with love and be vigilant in our caretaking. We can add new plants to the garden for variety. When the plants bloom, their fragrances will not make us happy but that would please God also. The eternal happiness would make our heart healthy and fortify our brain too.
Enthusiasm is invigorating and counterbalances apathy and boredom, two common blocks to an over-engaged life whereas a sluggish spirit just doesn’t care about anything. The world isn’t interesting enough; there’s a dreary sameness to all your activities. When fatigue or another of these conditions has you dragging through your days, when you find that you’ve replaced wonder with whatever, go for enthusiasm. If you can’t muster it from within, surround yourself with enthusiastic people.
Enthusiasm helps us to get up and go when we are feeling lethargic and listless and feel that our energy seems frozen. We may make others aware when we are excited about something. We should make ourselves known for our eagerness, our curiosity and our willingness. We may proclaim our passions without holding anything back and sing our heart out.
Faith is the confident belief in the truth of or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing, a belief, without proof. It is often used in a religious context, as in theology, where it almost universally refers to a trusting belief in a transcendent reality, or else in a Supreme Being and said being’s role in the order of transcendent, spiritual things. Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. It is the belief and the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, based on his or her authority and truthfulness. Practicing faith, then, is like developing any relationship. You have to give it time and attention. It requires you to see, hear, feel, and constantly remember your partner. We must have confidence in the relationship’s viability, even when we are facing mysteries, doubts, and paradoxes. Our strong faith wins ultimately and relieves us of mental stress.
Generally we understand three kinds of forgiveness. Self-forgiveness enables us to release our guilt and perfectionism. There is the forgiveness we extend to others and receive from them, intimates and enemies alike. And there is the forgiveness of God that assures us of our worth and strengthens us for this practice to start somewhere.
We may look truthfully at one hurt we have not been able to forgive. We may identify any associated feelings we might have, such as anger, denial, guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Imagine what it would be like to live without feeling this offense. Then we may let it go for which other steps may be necessary for healing — a confession of our contribution to the conflict, making amends, changing behavior, a commitment to the community — but giving up our claims for, and sometimes against ourselves. Once we adopt it, it can release a number of tensions our heart would be carrying on from the date of that hurt took place. Without forgiveness, life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
It is God’s Grace that we took birth in this beautiful universe; we do have life and finally, salvation. Grace is the unmerited favor of God, God’s love, therefore a gift. A gift is free, grace is free. Grace has been given to all men by the Spirit of God being poured out on all men and women. By grace, we are allowed to access the power of God to become righteous, whatever our sins of the past and whatever our current problems. Since He gives his gifts where he finds the vessel empty enough to receive them, we need to exercise grace to others like arriving like an ambulance, just-in-time delivery, to the needy.
Gratitude is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one receives. The experience of gratitude has historically been a focus of several world religions and has been considered extensively by moral philosophers such as Adam Smith. With the advent of the positive psychology movement, gratitude has become a mainstream focus of psychological research. The practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way of life. We need to practice saying “thank you” for happy and challenging experiences. We may express our appreciation to everything and everyone we encounter at the first instance without caring for that we might have got them against some consideration. By blessing, we are blessed by God.
But sometime, often instead of rejoicing in what we have, we greedily want something more, better, or different. We can’t be grateful because we are making comparisons and coveting other possibilities. When this happens on a personal level, when it’s our ego that is dissatisfied, then we are ungrateful. But when we want something more, better, or different for the benefit of the community, this greed may be a manifestation of our devotion, our love, or our yearning for justice. And then we are grateful for these commitments.
Hope is a positive and potent practice with the power to pull us through difficult times. It is the basic ingredient of optimism. When we are without hope, we easily fall victim to such negativism. When the light of hope is absent, we are overcome by gloom and doom, despair and defeatism. In terms of personal style, without hope, we find it difficult to be patient and are easily frustrated. We may lack the courage to continue struggling against adversity. We are faint-hearted and quickly discouraged. We really do expect the worst. The Chinese have a saying: If you keep a green bough in your heart surely the singing bird will come. Hope is the foundation for creativity, inspiration, joy and all those emotions which allow us to transcend ourselves.
We generally practise hospitality when we welcome guests into our lives with graciousness. An open house reveals certain things about us: we are well-disposed toward others, we focus on the positive, and we believe the universe is basically a friendly place. Sometimes hospitality requires that we cross boundaries and dismantle some of the barriers erected in our society to keep “the other” out. Sometimes it means entertaining ideas that might be alien to us.
To be hospitable, we need to accept pluralism as a natural condition in the world. We may celebrate the diversity of the Creation. On an interpersonal level, hospitality is a good prescription to balance a tendency to be critical of and unaccommodating to others. People who are distrustful of the world, who become fearful and paranoid when strangers approach, or who are suspicious of ideas unlike their own will also benefit from this practice.
Note : We may continue to discuss about other virtues in next post.