Formula for Life – Swami Snehananda Jyoti
Salvation for humanity consists in unity of humanity. Humanity's destination then is unity of humanity collectively, and self-realization coming out of exhausting all potentials one is endowed with to become what can be individually. How can we all live in a multicultural, pluralistic society and achieve unity of humanity? It is difficult all the more as differences like color, creed, race, ethnic origin, and class are more focused on than unifying forces like character, value system, human rights, equality, equity, and fairness. In a world where quality of life is measured by the extent and intensity of pleasure rather than by purposeful behavior, where material acquisitions and attributes are praised and publicized extravagantly rather than spiritual pursuits, materialism thrives. When a great deal of energy is spent on looks and appearances, and on manipulation by phony and deceptive advertisements, truth and other values are systematically eroded. In day-to-day life of increasing distractions from our real goal, a righteous life common to all humanity becomes increasingly difficult. In spite of all problems and difficulties, there is a winning formula for living.
Right Thinking: Cognitively it involves correct understanding of realities as they unfold in day-to-day life. Concretely it involves acceptance of the entire creation as it is. Acceptance of all human beings and loving them, not necessarily liking them, for who they are is essential. Loving may lead to liking. It is very important that we do not make other persons' problems our problems. We need to look at every one from an empathic attitude that involves looking at life from the other person's view point. This can generate understanding and good will. We do not need to agree with the other person but we need to spend energy to understand things as he/she understands. The other person understands that we understand him/her. Sometimes we may need to let the other person know where we are. The important thing is that we have a genuine interest, and we care to understand. We are patient, transparent, and humble. While conveying our reality, we need to make sure that we respect other person for where he or she is. We need to be willing to grant the other person the benefit of out where we are not sure while we rely on the solid data that we have when we are sure. Our effort to work toward a win-win situation for all never ceases. I am reminded of a situation in mid-1970s when I was undergoing a year of resident training in the department of Psychiatry of Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans, as part of my Clinical Psychology program in the USA. A pastor with a doctorate in Pastoral Care came to my office for some emotional problem. He knew that I was a priest. From the outset he informed me that he was a homosexual and that he was not seeking help in that area. In those days homosexuality was a very controversial issue. He wanted to know what my view on homosexuality was. I told him I would like to treat him for his target problem in what was called sector therapy, and that I would tell him my view in our last session. He remembered in the last session what I told him in our first meeting and wanted to know what I thought on homosexuality. I merely told him that I understood his sexual orientation, and that it was not my cup of tea. The important thing here is how to share our perspective without putting down the other person's.
Right Feeling: Affectively it involves feeling any feeling without acting out. We need to feel the whole spectrum of feelings. All feelings are valid and appropriate for the situations called for. In themselves, feelings are neither good nor bad, neither correct nor incorrect. Inappropriate affect can distinguish a normal person from an abnormal person. While we feel our feelings we need to manage them and channel them in appropriate and constructive ways. Inability to control our feelings leads to disastrous consequences. Herein comes impulse control. Poor impulse control is the bane of our civilization. Civilization is advanced by appropriate impulse control. Thus appropriate emotions can become a boon for humanity. Emotions truly are the motors that drive us to get what we want. Motors need to be guided by the steering wheel in the right direction. And that steering wheel is the reason. So we need to subject our emotions to reason. The greatest impediment that comes in the way of our growth and development is the expression of uncontrolled emotions. Uncontrolled emotions can create only enormous heat. Light for guidance can come only from reason. A mature person expresses his or her feelings appropriately with the right kind of intensity.
In sum, a truly mature and effective person is recognized by his/her correct thinking with the right modulation of feelings. This person is a lover of humanity, accepts all for who they are, is empathic, compassionate, honest, genuine, tolerant, forgiving, ready always to reconcile with others, unafraid, lives in the present, and enjoys and celebrates life with an attitude of gratitude. This is a person on the way to realization.