Even if you spend all your efforts to please everybody, truthfully, in the end, none of that really matters so much. You may do everything that people want you to do, and then do one thing wrong, and find yourself being harshly judged anyway.
I first learned not to let others bring me down as a child, when my family moved from a simple, poorer city into a much wealthier suburb. My sister and I experienced a great deal of prejudice from the other children, most of whom were much more well-dressed and well cared for than we were. Of course, children can sometimes reveal the more animalistic tendencies of the untamed human nature, and I experienced many encounters with young ones who thought they could bring themselves up by pushing others down. Although this was not a pleasant experience, it did teach me to hold my own in life, and to not let others bring me down - try, though they might.
For several years, until finally moving into the more pleasant and friendly waters of junior high school, I experienced being somewhat of an outcast. Although the experience was often challenging, during this time, I also gained some precious blessings. Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I was not so focused on social hierarchies or childish spats. I learned to enjoy being alone. I became more inwardly focused, and found a certain peaceful enjoyment there. I learned to watch the world, and to listen to my inner soul, even though I didn't call it that at the time.
This inner growth prepared me, by age twenty, to make the biggest leap of trust that I'd made up till that point. After being brought up as an atheist my whole life, I left right in the middle of college to pursue a monastic life. I moved into the ashram of my guru, Swami Muktananda.
For me, leaving college to move into an Indian ashram at age twenty was definitely an unexpected twist - not only for me, but for my friends and family as well. After all, this took place in 1980, long before topics such as spirituality, yoga, gurus, or meditation became familiar and prevalent in society. About the only spiritual books you could find in those days were pop-psychology paperbacks and old, occult-style books. Moving into an ashram was simply not an acceptable choice to make in our suburban town.
Yet, I thank God that I found the strength to follow my heart's calling, in spite of having to take the heat of other people's burned expectations. In fact, because of the independent spirit I'd developed during my childhood years, I really didn't feel very much heat at all. I was inwardly guided to take this surprising step, and nobody was going to be able to keep me down.
The next ten years of monastic life transformed and uplifted me from the inside, out. I thank God every day that I was able to follow my own guidance instead of relying on the group mentality of my society at that time. From this successful leap of faith, I learned that you don't need to have the approval of everyone else in order to be happy. Therefore, my suggestion is to keep your focus on what you believe is right, while remaining open to any helpful suggestions that come from those around you.
Even to progress in our spiritual evolution, we have to have some detachment from the opinions and expectations of others. For example, if you have evolved to a point of seeing beyond certain limited perspectives, well, you can be sure that people who still have those limited perspectives aren't going to want you to come around and mess with them. I remember years ago when, if I mentioned to someone that I did yoga, they would look shocked at my doing something so weird, or they may have made fun of me for doing something so strange. Of course, now yoga is all over the place, but if I had waited to enjoy its benefits until the rest of society caught up to it, then I would have missed the best opportunities of my life.
Although you may find it beneficial to fit into whatever culture and social system you've taken birth into, you don't have to be limited by such structures in your own mind, heart, and soul. Don't let others bring you down.
For example, if you believe that death is not bad, but is rather the passing of a soul into heaven, or back into its original nature, then don't let the anguish and sorrow of others keep you from trusting your higher vision when someone you know passes over. This is where the dual awareness explained earlier can also come in handy. You can use the idea of dual awareness to feel and express the appropriate sadness for having lost someone, while also remaining anchored in faith and trust that all is well, and that the person is cradled in God's Loving Hands.
Don't let others keep you from singing the song you are here to sing in this grand symphony of life. Find your song. Find your essence. Find your dreams. Find your greatest destiny. Find your path of harmony, and you'll also find spiritual happiness.
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Table of Contents
by Sharon Janis
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Section One: Exploring Happiness
Section Two: Introducing Spiritual Happiness
Section Three: 39 Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
3. Know Thyself
14. Choose Happiness
28. Be a Blessing
38. Enjoy the Trip!
39. Be Optimistic
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