Focusing on self is not uncommon to our culture, where for centuries time was dedicated for prayer, meditation and motivational tasks. The practice holds relevance even today, writes Hingori
It is quite common for us to encounter life coaches, motivational speakers and gurus speaking about managing one’s health, mind and body and to help oneself before reaching out to others. It is a trend these days to gift oneself the well-deserved ‘Me time’ and engaging in therapies to relax and detox. Focusing on oneself is not uncommon to our ethos and culture, where for centuries together, significant time was dedicated for prayers, meditation and other productive, self-motivated activities. As a result the society benefited, ensuring human evolution. This practice holds relevance even in today’s fast paced life.
First thing first. It is critical to understand that often the image of the self we carry is actually a component of many entities — physical, astral and causal. The physical body consists of a physical self, mind and intellect. The spirit within, the suksham sharir (the body that exists before, during and after a birth in this life) and the causal body or the kaarna sharir which is always attached to the spirit and contains the hard disk of our samskars.
Hence, if the focus is loving the physical body, you may get caught in a web of complexities that physical existence weaves around you. On the other hand, when you love your inner self, you set yourself free from all complexes, attached to the physical existence.
Why should you love yourself?
The point of discussion is not about loving yourself frivolously or in vanity, but learning to accept, respect and revere yourself. This is certainly not an easy task. The art of loving your ‘self’ has been understood and advocated across spiritual forums and religious doctrines.
Adi Shankaracharya has been one such proponent of the self and he says: “As the mind becomes gradually established in the self, it proportionately gives up the desire for external objects. When all such desires have been eliminated, there is the unobstructed realisation of the self.”
If we have to extrapolate this to our current environment, and the many selves one has, it makes the process more complex and research -worthy.
In order to understand the concept of self-love we must deconstruct an old Sanskrit phrase, Tat Twam Asi — That You Are. In this, ‘Tat’ stands for the consciousness supreme, of which all human beings belong. ‘Twam’ refers to the body, the spirit, the mind and the jivaatma or individual soul. ‘Asi’ means you are a part of the consciousness supreme, even if you do not know it, even if you do not feel it, even if you do not want to believe it.
Right now the ‘you’ that is reading this article is just the physical one. But realising the essence of the article is done by the spirit self.
Most people believe they love the concept of consciousness supreme but forget to love themselves as a part of the Tat factor. A poignant quote by Saint and poet Kabir explains the concept beautifully:
“Boond samani hai samunder mein, janat hai sab koi;
Samunder samana boond mein, bujhe birla koi.”
(When a drop merges into the ocean, everyone understands it
But when the ocean merges into the drop, seldom does one understand it.)
This explains how one is not just a part of the consciousness supreme but in fact is the consciousness supreme itself.
Perception has an influential role to play in this study, who we think we are, is not the reality but is the delusion of the mind also known as: Maya.
Your self-assessment is often based on expectations and achievements. Getting the best job, dream house, good looking partner, highest grades and constant appreciation, work as triggers to boost the level of self-love. And if you fail to match up to your expected results, the image of the self comes crashing down. However, it is futile to succumb to such self-created environments and deprive yourself of the true love it deserves.
The other factors outside the physical realm that affect self-image and love are fate, guilt and thoughts and are beyond your control.
How do your learn to love yourself?
One of the critical steps to loving yourself is learning to accept yourself.
We need to accept ourselves on an ‘as is where is’ basis. This is not only for self-preservation, but also for our collective intent that aids the machinery of the consciousness supreme.
There are various impediments that obstruct self acceptance. For instance, thoughts. It is not easy to deal with thousands of unnerving thoughts, as they take us to a level of judging ourselves poorly and keep us in a state of degradation.
It is easy to worship water in the ocean, but not in a glass of fresh lime soda — the core of both being the same; the lime and fizz are only adulterations and limitations. These limitations are self-created and do not allow us the luxury of self-worship.
A major deterrent in shedding the perceptions we hold of ourselves is our lack of knowledge of destiny. Until we understand this concept better, we continue to blame ourselves for all our actions and often even our thoughts. There are many stories in history wherein the predictions about the future have been accurate. If that is true, then the trends of our life are pre-determined and the future has already happened in a cross-section of time and space that lies ahead. Understanding the factor of destiny will make self-acceptance and removal of guilt much easier.
Self-love has to go beyond attention seeking. If you look around, your dog is asking for it, your kids are asking for it, and many of your friends are asking for it as well. So do not join the attention-seeking club. Once you see the spark of divinity within you, you will not want attention from anyone else. You will look for vairagya and that solitude will give you a high.
The writer is the author of Hingori Sutras series of spiritual books