# 18. THINK in the Gap

(If you have not read Sutra #14 and #15, please stop here and read.)

The conscious mind is driven by the subconscious mind and creates boundaries and opposites: me versus you, us versus them, my country/race/religion/team/political party versus yours. This automatic perception is fostered by the brain’s intricate information and memory stores creating our sense of individuality, sense of separation and definition of self. In the gap we have the opportunity to catch hold of these automatic divisions the mind projects, and if we so choose, we can change them.

Why should we do this? Because this automatic process is the root of discord from a personal to a global scale. Almost every problem and challenge we see can be traced back to this. Are we to think a utopian existence is even possible, where we see cooperation and harmony? Or is it wiser to remain cynical; believing that there are greedy, self-serving individuals who will take advantage if we are not careful. This is a crucial question that we can only answer individually according to our own understanding.

In the fall/winter of 2015, two movies will debut: the first is a dramatization of the housing loan failure in ’08 that the banks essentially knew was coming, and many profited from, leading to the collapse of the world economy. The second is about the MD who sought to educate the public regarding the devastating after-effects of multiple head trauma experienced by the football players. This led to the eventual exposure of the NFL’s prior knowledge of the damage done to the player’s brains and the attempts to cover it up. Rather than getting angry at the banks, politicians and corporations we can appreciate and acknowledge the consciousness that is exposing these deceptions. The mindset at the root of the deceptions come from brain’s whose programming has ‘I-me-mine’ priorities. But the mindset that is exposing these deceptions is one that can change things – it is a consciousness of ‘waking up’.

We must be sensible, practical, as informed as possible and see to our welfare and the welfare of those around us. At the same time we can see to our enlightened inner consciousness – we can work with our inner awareness. The collective mind of humanity is influenced by our individual awareness and our thoughts, therefore cultivating our own depth of knowing can be one of the most important contributions to the uplifting of world consciousness.

If you have been practicing the gap exercise described in sutras 14/15, then you may have noticed the gap between thoughts – the pause when you are conscious-present and the possibilities therein. With continued practice the automatic and unconscious reaction patterns are neutralized and the trajectory of non-useful thoughts and emotions redirected. This produces not only a change in thinking and behavior but the corresponding change in the chemistry of the brain and body. As we become more conscious we can introduce questions to ourselves in the gap. These questions can give our decisions and interactions positive direction as we interject them into the pause.

A useful and easy to remember tool for inner questioning is often seen posted on social media as well as in inspirational literature. It is the acronym T.H.I.N.K. and is very appropriate for the gap. When we become conscious of the gap between thoughts we have the opportunity to really ‘think’ and not just to react. This exercise is used for our personal interactions with others and gives us the opportunity to practice being conscious and aware through communication. We use the acronym (THINK: true, helpful, inspirational, necessary, kind) to remind us to ask ourselves if we are being guided by each respective item as we interact with others.

T is for true.

Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say true?” Perhaps at times it is just a matter of qualifying what we are saying, such as, “in my opinion…” But other times we must look at the source of information we have accepted and determine if the source is in fact correct. Oftentimes information we have accepted as ‘facts’ are just other people’s opinions and not necessarily true. There are facts and then there are opinions. Learning to distinguish between the two can be all that is necessary.

H is for helpful.

Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say helpful?” Sometimes we can say too much. We can inadvertently subvert another person’s learning process by giving them directions or answers to questions they could benefit by learning themselves. At other times what we might intend as constructive criticism is taken as a dig or damaging to another’s self-worth.

I is for inspirational.

Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say inspirational?” Every day, at least one time, make it a conscious practice to uplift, encourage and inspire someone by telling them how much you sincerely appreciate them – anyone from the check-out person, to a loved one, fellow workers, or to random people you meet.

Also, without being pretentious or condescending, it can be a great gift to thank someone for teaching you how to be patient and tolerant especially if you do it with sincere gratitude. Both benefit.

N is for necessary.

Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say necessary?” Sometimes we may react out of our own anger, our own sense of ‘how things should be’, or sense of violation and this does not do any good and can end up being hurtful to another and actually create resistance. Sometimes it is better to just be quiet and to let others gain their own insight and awareness if indeed there is a transgression.

K is for kind.

Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say kind?” Kindness should be the guiding compass for all we say and do. Kindness expressed goes on exponentially. It is contagious and it is not an exaggeration to say it changes lives. We do not know the downstream effects of our simple acts of kindness – it can be monumental.

Life is our Spiritual Practice

The lives we live, each and every interaction we have, is the test and opportunity for our spiritual growth and practice. The gap affords us a momentary pause, an opportunity to wake up and to change repetitive unconscious patterns and to ultimately fulfill our purpose for being here. As you use this acronym, over time you will no longer need to go through and remember each item, they will be consolidated as a whole into a natural guiding principle for all your interaction.

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#17. Making It Real

As we progress along the spiritual path at times the eternal truths can seem otherworldly or idealistic. People who claim to be atheist or agnostic often view with sceptisism the inconsistency of religion and the behavior of those claiming to be spiritual. The world at this time in history is experiencing great struggles as the obvious problems in our culture and society are identified and become less and less acceptable to more and more people. According to Vedic time cycle calculations, we are just a few hundred years out of the collective inertia of a dark age. However, we are now in an ascending cycle where the light of truth, understanding and progress will only increase exponentially. We will see dramatic positive changes over the decades to come – struggle too, but the immense universal drive in the direction of evolution is unfailing and as individuals awaken, our world will experience ever-increasing harmony.

As explained in sutra # 8, this is still a time cycle of conflict and we are just at the beginning but if there were no struggle, nothing would change. When we hear almost every day of the tragedies and calamities, the obvious political, social, environmental, religious and economic challenges, we can lose hope. We can get frustrated, pessimistic, frightened and foster attitudes that actually contribute to the inertia of ignorance. We all experience personal tragedies as well – some experience devastating circumstances and events that make us ask, “How could a God let this happen?” The instinctive reaction to the problems we face is fear and contraction. If the great saints and sages tell us, “All this is God!” how are we to reconcile this with what we are faced with every day? How do we make this awareness real? How do we apply this? These truths all sound nice but for some of us they may remain radical, fantasy, too idealistic, at a distance and difficult to comprehend.

The weight of Maya is a strong influence (Maya: the veil or the illusion of duality: the perception that God does not exist or is some far off thing rather than the pure silent ever-presence it is). There are almost seven billion humans on the planet now and science and mystics tells us that although we are separated by our physical bodies, our minds are not as individual as we would like to believe. According to the time cycles of evolution, the majority of the almost seven billion humans are not yet awake-enlightened. This creates a collective mind inertia that is enormous especially when we try to adhere to, and to put into practice, the great teachings that go against the collective thought. The world of seeming opposites makes it very difficult for us to see through to the source, God. The more ‘in the world’ we are the more the challenge. An inner world must be developed – instilled with an inner peace that is detached from what is happening externally.

There are of course individuals who remove themselves from the world to avoid the discord and the distractions in order seek spiritual realities. There are those who decide to devote their lives to solitude and lives of quiet service and this too has an impact on the collective mind of humanity. And then there are those peaceful-warrior souls like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many others, while firmly grounded in unshakable truth consciousness, take on the enormous task of challenging the untruths. We can arrange our lives so that we see to our spiritual awareness and play our part in no less a way. If you have somehow found these writings and are reading this now, this is in fact, essential. You are being called upon, not by these words, but by your own inner being to ‘make it real’. This does not mean that we all have to go out and be activists for world change. We can if we feel so led. It is not necessary either, to retire from the world and the worlds discord in order to be enlightened. Our silent ‘knowing’ the truth has a significant impact and influence on the collective consciousness of humanity and is a great blessing.

The challenge is simply this: ‘Reality’ cannot be grasped intellectually with the mind. We can think about it, we can contemplate it, but that is not the same as the experience of it. Words cannot describe it. To be ‘realized’, it must be experienced – it is not a thought – it is ‘That’ which is awareness itself. This experience is not at a distance and not to be searched for. It is always present; it is the ‘you of you’ and has always been and always will be. If we search we are like a fish in the middle of the ocean searching for water! Awakening to this can be a spontaneous event but more often than not, a systematic program of spiritual practice is required to gradually refine and transform awareness so that the truth is revealed.

Science and mysticism agree that consciousness is all there is, and whether or not we are aware of this, we can accept this fact. Then we can strive to always be conscious-present and to no longer allow ourselves to be fooled by our sense of individuality/separation and fooled by the belief in the individuality of others. We can remind ourselves to view the world from the perspective of absolute consciousness in, and as, all things. This is non-dual perception versus perception of duality: ‘where there is two (duality), there is fear’. The shift of awareness from duality to non-duality is a great blessing and IS the dissolution of fear. There is no longer any such thing as accident or anything evil or anything ‘out there’ out to do us harm or throw obstacles in the way of our highest awareness. Everything, every event, is here for our enlightenment when we realize the consciousness of one-ness.

Patanjali, the codifier of the Yoga Sutras, stated that to awaken we must surrender our ‘sense of separation’ from Divinity. It is just a false ‘sense’, and not real, and therefore, it can be immediately let go of – a simple shift in perspective. When this is done, and we have the real experience, the whole world appears anew – this is the real meaning of being born again. As we do this it is as if we are realigning the mind, piece by piece. The mind has many, many compartments and each time we realize truth, each time we realize that we are divinity at our core, we penetrate and affect another area of the mind until eventually over time, the whole of the mind is transformed. The primary tools we use for this are superconscious meditation and the practice of being conscious-present described in detail in these sutras.

Try this exercise at the end of your next meditation session:

Look upon everyone you know or have contact with, simply and purely as Divine Being. Then expand this awareness to include everything in your life, to all the world, to all living things, to all souls everywhere, the planets, the universes and infinite space. As often as you can, at intervals during your day, and if you awaken during the night, remind yourself of the truth.

See the world as your Self

Have faith in the way things are

Love the world as your Self

Then you can care for all things.

                          – Tao Te Ching