The power of association – Day 3

Asees Singh: “So, bhaine, how are you today?”

Rehmat Kaur: “I am good veerji and am looking forward to learning more about Sangat.”

Asees Singh: “Great. So, let’s get started. Yesterday, we learnt about Sangat with our state of mind or collective memory or overall emotional state. All of these terms mean the same. Today, let’s pick up one of the most powerful forms of Sangat i.e. Sangat with people. As you mentioned yesterday, our thoughts are impacted by the people around us. It is very true. People who say that they can roam around with bad people and not get influenced are wrong. Gurbani says clearly:”

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“Bhai Gurdas ji also says:”

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“And frankly, we do need to read Gurbani to know this. If we are intelligent or perceptive enough, we can see it in our lives. We start eating like, drinking like, walking like, and even more importantly, thinking like the people we company. If you spend time with people who are always thinking and talking about sex, eventually, you will also start doing the same. If you spend time with people who are always thinking and talking about helping others, eventually, you will also start doing the same. Associating with another person means including the qualities of that person in your life, whether they are good qualities or bad qualities.”

“Every person has an energy field around him that reflects his state of mind that we discussed yesterday. Now, this energy field affects other people around him whether he talks to them or now. Just the presence of his energy impacts the people around him. For example: if a gloomy person enters the room, the people in the room will become gloomier. Even if the person doesn’t say anything, even if you do not even see him, just his presence would impact your consciousness. Obviously, when you see him or talk to him, in other words, focus your consciousness specifically towards that person, you will become even more gloomier. However, the point to understand here is that even without seeing him or talking to him or listening to him, you are being impacted by his energy. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid places, such as nightclubs, which are frequented by people with negative energy or where people talk or think mostly about negative things.”

“Given that your thoughts and thus, your future reality, are impacted by the people you company or associate today, it is recommended that

  • You avoid the company of negative people i.e. people who think negative thoughts such as those of greed, envy, despair, jealousy, anger, lust, pride, vengeance etc
  • If, for some reason, you cannot avoid their company, try to minimize the time you spend with them.
  • During the time you spend with them, don’t pay a lot of attention to their negative energy.”

“Now, these are general guidelines and can be useful at times, especially dealing with overly negative people. However, the world is not black and white. The world is not made up of positive people and negative people. Every person has a positive side and a negative side. Every person has some virtues and some vices. Every person is good at something and bad at something else. Most of the people you would meet are not going to be on the extremes of positivity or negativity. While it is recommended that you avoid people who are much more negative than positive, you cannot avoid all people who carry any negativity. If you avoid people who carry even some negativity, you will be left alone. You have to understand that even you are not full of positivity. You may be more positive than a few and less positive than others. Every person has both sides to him or her. Now, how to deal with these people with whom you will be dealing mostly.”

“The idea is simple: focus your attention on the positive attributes of people and ignore the negative attributes. The reason is simple enough: anything can only impact you only if you pay attention to it. Thus, if you pay attention to the positive or brighter side of everyone, you will always be thinking positively. Besides, an outcome of this selection attention would be that people will start showing more and more of their positive side to you. Even if they deal negatively or talk about negative things with others, when they’ll come near you, given your focus on their positivity, their focus will also shift on their own positive sides. And as you will see more and more positive aspects of them, you will continue to think more positively about them. And this virtuous circle of your thinking enforcing their behavior and their behavior enforcing your thinking will go on.”

“There is one more way to look at it. A direct implication of the universal law of karma, which means that we create our own reality, is that the outside world reflects our inside thoughts and emotions. So, if we are always thinking positive things, the outside world needs to reflect that. It means that if we think positivily about people by selectively focusing on their best aspects, eventually, they’ll reflect more and more of their brighter aspects in our presence. One major benefit of this happening is that people will feel happier in your presence. People will enjoy your presence. Why? Actually, they don’t really enjoy your presence. They enjoy their own positivity, but because you have helped them in connecting with their own positivity, they give due credit to you for their happiness.”

“So, when you start paying attention to the good aspects of people, it helps both you and other people. However, it has to begin from you. You have to start by focusing on positive aspects of others. And then their behavior will reflect your thoughts about them. However, most people get it upside down. Most people think that first, others have to be good to them, and then they will think positively about them. In other words, people don’t choose their thoughts. They allow their thoughts to be governed by the circumstances. They don’t know that their thoughts create their circumstances. So, if they let their thoughts dictated by the current circumstances, their future circumstances, which are reflection of current thougths, will be same as current circumstances. The struggle will remain the same in life, just that it will keep changing its face.”

“So, being a master of your destiny, you have to be selective in choosing your thoughts about others. Don’t crib about others. Don’t be jealous of others. Don’t blame others. Everyone is doing the best according to his or her own model of the world. Stop judging people and start loving them. Appreciate them for their goodness. Everyone else is busy in pointing out their weaknesses, shortcomings, and areas of improvement. You be different. Point out their beautiful aspects. Point out their strengths. Point out their positive aspects. Appreciate them for they are also manifestations of divine.”

“But veerji, aren’t overly negative people also manifestation of divine? Shouldn’t we love them, instead of ignoring them?”

“Love you bhaine. You have raised a very important question. It is very true that people, who have become very negative due to their past circumstances or persistent negative thinking, are also divine. Gurbani says:”

Aval Allaha noor upaya

“It is very much true that at the core, everybody is same. However, it is also true that some people are really good and some not so. It is also true that some people are really joyful and some people really sad. It is also true that some people have enormous wealth, while other starve in poverty. Why is it so different if we are all same at our core?”

“Gurbani says God has created this play of duality where both the extremes need to be there. If there is only light and no darkness, how will we appreciate light? If there is only love everywhere, how will be appreciate it? A thing can only be appreciated if its absence can also be felt. So, there is a duality in all aspects of life. So, while it is very much true that all human beings are divine, it is also true that some human being are extremely positive or saintly, while others are extremely negative or demonic. Now, the only question you need to ask yourself is: what do you want to become?”

“If you want to become like a saint, company positive people. If you want to become like a demon, company negative people. However, as I have explained that since people are combos of both positive and negative attributes, we should selectively focus on their positive aspects. Now, the answer to your question whether we should love overly negative people or ignore them lies in the basic understanding of the power of thoughts. When you are trying to selectively focus on the positive aspects of people, you are of course acting positively. You have a positive energy momentum going on, which allows you to ignore the negativity of the people around you. However, your ability to ignore the negativity of people is determined by the balance of your positive energy momentum and their negative energy momentum. What it means is that if the negative energy momentum of the other person is more than the positive energy momentum of yours, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to ignore his negative energy and not get influenced by it. In other words, it is simply a play of power of thoughts. If your positive thoughts are more powerful than the negative thoughts of the other person, you can avoid being influenced by his negative thoughts, and rather influence him by your positive thoughts. However, on the other hand, if your positive thoughts are less powerful than the negative thoughts of the other person, then he’ll influence you with his negative thoughts. It means that you will not be able to ignore his negativity.”

“In such cases, it is recommended that you avoid the company of such people. Given this understanding, it also means that when you avoid the company of a person for his negative thoughts, you can say to yourself ‘I am not going to accompany this person, not because he is bad, but because I haven’t grown enough to ignore his negativity. So, if I am ignoring this person, it has to do with my lack of growth, not with how this person is’. In such a case, you will be able to truly follow the principle “Hate the sin, not the sinner”. Even though you are ignoring the person, you are not hating him. You are just acknowledging your lack of growth. And once you ignore people for this reason and not because they are bad, you are able to focus on your growth, which is the most important thing in your life. It is very easy to blame outside circumstance or people for your problems, but it doesn’t help. Blaming outside circumstance or people for your problems only makes the problems reappear again and again in your life, until you start taking responsibility of everything that happens in your life. Gurbani says it clearly:”

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“Now, when you act like this in your daily life, it is very important that you stay true to yourself and your values, and not participate in activities or conversations that don’t feel right for you. You need to draw boundaries for yourself and others. People may be engaging in activities, or events, or talks that may be against your values or just don’t feel right for you. Respect yourself enough to be able to say no to people. When you focus on the positive aspects of people, it is quite natural to develop love or affection or appreciation for them. But don’t let such affection or love impact you negatively. Love them for who they are. But love yourself also who you are. Let them who they are. But don’t change yourself in the process. Always change for the better, not for the worse. Anything that doesn’t feel right is changing you for the worse. The love you hold for others shouldn’t make you weak, but strong enough to assert yourself to be true to yourself. Frankly, love doesn’t make people weak. It is dependency that makes people weak. And you don’t need to be dependent on anybody for your self-worth. When you give others freedom to be themselves, give yourself the freedom to be yourself.”

“However, before you assert your freedom in the outside world, you must first accept yourself internally. You have to be comfortable with both your strengths and shortcomings. No person is without a shortcoming. Isn’t it? So, just because you have a shortcoming, it doesn’t mean that you should follow others. Accept your shortcomings and work towards them. But love yourself unconditionally. Love yourself just as your Guru loves you. He doesn’t look at your merits and demerits. So, don’t worry about your imperfections. The life isn’t supposed to be perfect in all respects. The life exists because there are imperfections and potential for growth. So, fully and completely accept yourself. And once you accept yourself completely, your need to be accepted by others would vanish. Besides, since your outside world is a reflection of your inside, people will also accept you just as you are.”

“Now, it doesn’t mean that everyone will accept you or befriend you. But when you are true to yourself, you will attract the right kind of people to your life, the kind of people who will benefit you and get benefited from you. When you are true to yourself, people who are not going to benefit you or to benefit from you will leave you naturally. In this way, you will be surrounded by the right kind of people and truly, your outside life will reflect your inner acceptance of yourself.”

“Thanks a lot veerji. It really helps. However, before you leave, I have this question that if we always ignore the negative qualities of people, won’t we get cheated or harmed?”

“Good question bhaine. Actually, this fear of being harmed or cheated is one of the reasons people keep focusing on the negative aspects of people. I would share three reasons why you need not worry about being cheated or harmed. First reason, Gurbani and other religious scriptures have been very clear about this law of karma that we reap only what we sow, not what someone else sows. So, if we are sowing good things, we cannot reap bad things. So, even if the other person tries to harm you or cheat you, he cannot. The idea is to focus on what we sow. By the universal law, what we will reap will be decided. Second reason, even when I am asking you to focus on the positive aspects of people, I am also asking you to have boundaries. Appreciating or loving people doesn’t mean you allow yourself to engage in not-so-good activities. You need to have boundaries as to what you will do and what you will not do. And frankly, people will mostly respect your boundaries. And when they do not, you can assert yourself. So, when you have clear boundaries, it is very difficult for other to cheat or harm you. Third reason, even if you get cheated or harmed at some time, I would say the cost of getting cheated once in a while is far less than spending your life in fear of getting cheated. So, I agree that you make yourself vulnerable to an extent by not paying attention to the negative aspects of people, this vulnerability is far better than the safety of negative thoughts.”

“Got it bhaine? So, today, we have looked at the association or Sangat of people. Tomorrow, we’ll look at other forms of Sangat.”

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