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Redirect Your Attention to the Self
Cathy: Yes, intellectually I understand and agree with what you say 100%. Emotionally though, this understanding just does not seem to seep through.
Ram: Well, then you need to figure out a way to deal with the emotions as they arise.
Cathy: But you are right, it is exactly as you say. As I was waking up this morning I came up to kind of the same understanding: barking up the wrong tree, looking for happiness where it is not and not looking for happiness where it is. As soon as I identify with either good or bad experiences my attention moves from the self to the ego. I just need to bring it back to the self, where everything I need is. I have to make this my priority in life instead of trying to get what I want and avoid what I don’t want, right?
Ram: That’s right. If you view life as doing your dharma, not desire, it will burn out your likes and dislikes.
Cathy: So every time I feel lonely, sad, depressed, angry or happy, elated, “ feeling special” (one of my strongest vasanas and the one which has brought me more trouble in my life than any other one that I can tell, the need to have someone make me feel special. It has landed me in so much trouble and I have done so many stupid, damn and dangerous things for it, and all for what? For nothing. It never lasted. All I had left over were the consequences of all those stupid actions. Ah!, but then I had my second-favourite vasana come up: feeling sorry for myself. How many times I neglected to do what needed to be done because I was too busy enjoying my miseries!! What a stupid little circle I have been caught up in for so many years). And instead of being grateful for the reminders I just went chasing for more experiences to make myself “feel special,” when all I had to do was to remind myself that my attention had gone off the self, that’s all. And bring it back.
I will make this my homework. Every time I notice my attention has gone off the self, I will bring it back. And no matter what happens, I will take it as prasad, thank God for reminding me about the self and go back to it. I will practise as diligently as I am able to for the next few days and I’ll let you know what I’ve found.
Thanks Ram, I think the penny has finally dropped.
Ram: If it needs to drop again, I will remind you. You have it right about what you can do: use your emotions to turn away and look at the self.
Cathy: Hi, Ram. My mother arrived on Saturday morning. It is now Monday night and I still have not heard from her. I’m not sure which one of my sisters she is staying at, as she was very evasive when I asked her and she refused my invitation to go to the airport to see her when she arrived. It’s a long story. My sisters are not talking to me (after Mum’s last trip, God knows why). I did give her my home and mobile numbers when again she was evasive about coming to stay with me and told her to let me know when she wanted to see me. Anyway, I am not writing to you to tell you my sad story about my family.
On the contrary, take it as prasad, right? I was reading about Ramana Maharshi tonight and it said that every time we find ourselves thinking to come back to the feeling of “I” straightaway, therefore starving thoughts. So I have been practising with this thing about Mum, as of course it is on my mind. So this is the way to use our lives as a means to self-knowledge, right? So when I find myself thinking about this situation, I close my eyes (it does not work if I don’t) and I ask myself, “Who is thinking?,” and immediately the presence of I appears, so I stay with it for a few seconds.
Your comments would be appreciated.
Ram: Hi, Cathy. Yes, this is correct. Turn your attention away from the agitation to the self to the presence of I. Karma yoga works just as well. If your family is so dysfunctional, it should be seen a blessing that they do not want to talk to you, as it would only open all the old wounds. There is no particular reason why you should feel special affection for them anyway. They are just people caught up in self-ignorance like everyone else. On the other hand, if none of this works, you might want to think about why you want their love and what you have contributed to the dysfunction. Then you can forgive yourself for your part and forgive them for their part, insofar as all this bad energy is a consequence of their self-ignorance, for which no individual is personally responsible – until he or she understands what ignorance is. You can also ask why you want to be loved by others. There is no particularly reason why anyone should love you, is there? The desire to love and be loved is the cause of much suffering. Hint for sorting out this love business: people generally love people who love themselves.
~ Love, Ram