Inner Strength in Times of Conflict and Disaster
A talk delivered by BK Jayanti Kirpalani, Director of Brahma Kumaris Europe and the Middle East, and head BK delegate to COP21, the UN Conference on Climate Change in 2015. Sister Jayanti is an international speaker, author on spirituality, and a meditator for more than 40 years. The talk was held at SMX Aura Premier, Taguig City Philippines
Good afternoon and greetings of peace to my sisters and my brothers.
It’s very beautiful to see so many of you here. Many young ones and older ones, seniors ones. And I know that each one of you has come making sure that you've got many things to do but you decided that this is what was important for you. So much appreciation for everyone who's not just sitting but I see so many of you standing and so I know that I it will be a very worth while afternoon for you. You've already seen a clear introduction to the subject from the little video that we saw. Things happen and things happen in some places more frequently than others and this is one of those places where many things happen regularly. But yet this is a country as my sister said, a country that has faith, a country that has enthusiasm for life. This is something that I've always seen here in this country and so with faith and enthusiasm yes surely we can overcome all adversities whether it's nature, whether it's other situations but it's our inner strength that's going to be able to carry us through all of these things. You also heard the people who were being interviewed and they happen to be people who are meditators, and so they were talking about this inner strength. And so where does inner strength come from?
Most times if I look inside probably I find a state of chaos, a bowl of noodles or spaghetti, why, because our thoughts are so tangled.
We start thinking of one thing and then we go up in too many directions many strands everything gets a bit muddled and after some minutes I suddenly realize I was supposed to be concentrating on something else. Has that ever happened to you? I’m sure it has. And so if I'm just going inside just watching all of this then probably, I’ll say, “ah, it is going to be too difficult to do anything let me forget about it.” Sometimes another thing happens, the pain and sorrow that we carry is so strong that when we go inside the first thing that we see is the sorrow. And maybe this is why we don't give ourselves time for silence. In fact the world today is such that there is very little silence. Even at midnight you can hear the traffic, at least in Manila, you can. But most places around the world are quite similar even if you go down to the beach, somebody will put on their music and they’ll think they are entertaining everyone, but it's not a place of silence.
So I can’t find external strength from anything out there because at the time of disaster, all the things out there are in total chaos. People are scared. Who’s going to give me strength at that moment? But think about how when there’s an examination you were preparing for, maybe it was the driving test that you were for preparing for, maybe it was a cooking test, a cooking contest, something, whatever. You don't think about preparing at that time. In a way you know that nothing can work at that time. What you do is if you're interested in something you prepare for it beforehand. You don't just cram your books the morning of the exam, nothing will register, that’s the reality. You prepare for it beforehand. In the same way we know that it’s a very turbulent time in the world whether human created the disasters that keep happening. It's now the third time that France is being hit but things are going on everywhere. Not just one country but it's global situation. And then of course we've disturbed the harmony in nature to such an extent that the normal patterns of nature are no longer functional. In London sometimes when it's supposed to be winter the blossoms starts coming on the trees around March. It's supposed to come out in April and May. But things go a little bit haywire and so the blossoms come out early but of course the heat wave finishes in a week or two weeks and then it's gone and it's cold and so the poor blossoms doesn't know what to do. Then of course the frost comes and so everything turns brown. It's no longer the beautiful things that you saw, never mind beautiful, but also the food prices get affected because the harvest is being affected by the changes of climate. And so the whole story of disaster and all the things that keep happening in the world is just endless that we know that this is the reality of the present time in which we live.
And so what is sensible is to prepare. And yes I know that there are many of you are prepares in terms of physical preparation for disaster. And so all of all of that is absolutely essential. Yes keep your stock of food, keep your light bulbs, keep your emergency kit, whatever it is, keep all of that ready . But at that moment when disaster strikes although you may have done all the external preparations what you realize is that you need to have made another preparation which was an inner preparation. And it’s that inner preparation that will help you at that particular moment. So I'm not here to talk about the external preparations. Many of you are experts in that and you know more about it than I do.
But what is the inner preparation? The inner preparation is to be able to bring my mind back to a state of calm and stillness. Is it possible? When we see the spaghetti bowl, we think its not possible but you in fact when I began by saying "Om Shanti"
So om shanti means OM I am , it’s the inner being that is speaking, I am Shanti, peace. Peace is actually inside of me. Peace is my own natural original state of being. But somewhere along the line we lost touch with the being that is inside and we just simply focused on the external form. You know we use this term human being. It’s actually two words. The human…this is human the physical form. So what is the being? The being is that which is inside. I can’t see it but I know that that is who I am, the being with in. But my mind got associated with the physical form and just engaged in things here on the external without taking the time or understanding then I need to go on an inner journey.
And so today we're going to talk about the journey inside, the inner journey and how to be able to sort out that spaghetti and let my thoughts instead of being a jumble become clear and coherent and even I would say simple. I'm not talking about simplistic in the sense of basic things. I'm talking about simple in the sense of learning to come back to the essence.
When you come back to the essence then things are very clear, straightforward and simple. When you were telling a story that's a bit convoluted then there is a lot of embroidery around it, this, that and the other. and maybe somebody has to tell you but what is the point of the story, get back to the point of the story. please.
And allowing my mind to go here and there and nowhere around and getting out of hand means that we have forgotten that we are actually the creators of our own thoughts. And of course the reality is that most time we don't take charge over our own thoughts. most of the time probably for most people, scientific research has shown that 80% of the time we are not actually consciously creating thought . We are simply reacting on the basis of things that are already printed within our consciousness. And probably some would even say that the imprints that we carry that create our reactions are probably the imprints that have been created from infancy thru to age 7. Thats what some people would say. And so there are patterns of behavior that are fixed. And so when a situation comes and instead of actually understanding the person in front of me giving them time to speak their hearts, their mind, and to listen to them properly what I'm doing is reacting. And so time to make contact to myself that either being so that I can start becoming the creator of my own thoughts and in fact the master of my own thoughts and feelings. And it's possible in fact it's not very difficult.
The first step to take is to decide that it's impotant for me. When somebody decides that this is important then of course they make time for it and you can't say I know it is important but I don't have time. we make time for it. And so when I realized that I've lost that state of mastery, and I am just allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings in my thoughts and I realize that that's not very healthy I want to move differently I want to move in a very conscious , aware awake state and I want to say I want to have a mastery over myself and so because the title contained already the term Inner Strength , you already made this decision to come here. so that's great.
Next step I need a bit of information how can I go on in this inner Journey. just like if you start your journey going from to there anywhere, even if it is a short distance you need a proper map. and if you don't have a map, you'll get lost. and you're going to stop many times along the way to ask many people and maybe they will tell you the right things maybe they won't. maybe they will tell you it's somewhere there. You go somewhere there and you end up in a mess. And so you need a proper map. And so you need information about the inner being. I need to understand that within this inner being that I am, there is consciousness, there are thoughts, there are feelings, there is the ability to hold information, the ability to understand and the ability to decide wether I want to follow that information through in my life or not. Within Myself there's also something else that we have spoken about earlier, I need the ability to be able to decide to understand something properly and then decide what action is that I want perform.
My memories where are they? My memories are also deep within myself. They are not just part of the brain. but I carry them within my own inner world, my own inner being, my personality, my responses ,the way I am shaped by situations. All of those characteristics are there within this inner being. I have given you a very brief outline but if you want to know more, you will be able to pursue it further.
But for the moment I going to focus on how it is we are going to get Inner Strength. So now I know that I am the creator of my own thoughts, and the master of my own mind and so what I have to learn to do is to look at what is going on in my mind.
(CHANGE OF MICROPHONE)-------
Shall I carry on or maybe it is time for a moment of silence. We have been talking about silence. Let's have a moment of silence to have things settled.
Thank you for joining me in that silence. it is good that sometimes external things happened to remind us silence is the most powerful thing that we can ever experience.
I learned that I am the master of my mind. I then start looking at my thoughts and I see that what is happening is that so often there are negative thoughts that come. Maybe a thought of anger. Maybe a thought of ego. What do you feel when that sort of thought comes? Happy? No. Content? No. Peaceful? Definitely not. Do you feel strong at the time? No. We think that anger is an expression of strength. But actually, not truly.
Anger is actually an expression a weakness because I lost control of myself so anger and force are not a proof of strength. they are the opposite. and so I realized that negative thoughts of any type at all are very very disempowering. They are going to rob me of my inner strength. and if I’m now interested in renewing my strength in regaining my strength, I am going the wrong way. if I allow negativity to enter my mind, never mind getting into words or actions anything that is even coming into my thoughts it is going to drain me of my energy and power. so I decide okay I will deal with my negative thoughts. That is possible. what about the next level?
The next level, I see that there is a lot of wastage that are happening in my mind. I am thinking about this and that and the other and the other thing and the other thing .....I don't need to. but my mind keeps running here and there, everywhere. I realized that waste thoughts are also weakening me. and I don't want those. so I decide I'm going to deal with them and finish them also. I still keep looking because I still need to keep looking.
What about weak thoughts? I don't really think I can do this. I don't think this person is such a good person. I have to find somebody else who can do this. So weak thoughts come. And obviously they are going to take my energy away even further. Allow a weak thought to continue for a couple of minutes, a few minutes and you're will actually feel quite tired by the end of that. You haven't done anything , gone anywhere, no. But just letting weak thoughts come and it drains you. And so I decide, no more.
And then there is a lot of ordinary thoughts that come. Mundane things. I have to eat. I have to sleep. I have to do this. I have to do that.
But I know I have to do all that. And all of that is set in place. I’ve got a time table. I don't have to think about it now, it will happen according to the timetable. And so I don't even need to have ordinary thoughts, mundane thoughts. Then I begin to think about what sort of thoughts should I have? Yes I can have positive thoughts about myself, about people, and the world. I can also have pure thoughts even more elevated than positive thinking is a very pure thought. A thought filled with a lot of love, a thought filled with peace. A thought filled with gratitude. These experiences that we have in our lives but now I'm understanding what is that can empower me and what is it that brings me down and disempowers me.
And so I have to learn to create pure thoughts that are beneficial for me but also beneficial for others around me.
Have a thought of fear, and you know what happens? Everyone around you gets affected. The person who's afraid is going to infect everybody else with fear. But the opposite is also true if I have a thought that's very peaceful that thought of peace is going to impact everyone around.
I won’t tell you all the stories of the experiences I've had using the power of Peace but the power of Peace can save lives literally physically it can save your life because at that moment when you’re calm, you know where to go, what to do. But also you can allow others to become stable and calm and peaceful though your inner peace. And so that's very empowering. A very powerful thing. Interesting thing is that they don’t associate peace and power together. But inner power, inner strength, actually comes from peace. And so when there is pure thoughts, then those pure thoughts are really very very powerful.
I can have another step that goes even further up. I can have thoughts that are being benevolent, Thoughts of sharing, thoughts giving rather than thoughts of taking and wanting and receiving.
I can train my mind to make sure that I don't have the type of thoughts that is going to take away my strength but I'm able to keep the thoughts that empower me. And this something that you can practice as you're walking along the road, as you doing you cooking, as you sitting in the car in a traffic jam any time, at all.
Because you are not holding anything. You're not writing anything. It's just what's going on in here and what's going on in here doesn’t stop. Right? You’re walking, you're eating, your meeting, you’re greeting, this is just continually going on. But there comes a moment when I decide I want to take charge of what's going on in here. Why should I be a puppet of circumstances. Why should I dance to somebody else's tune? But I want to be in charge of what's going on within me.
And so I start checking my thoughts. But the other thing is that I just very quickly mention that yes you can deal with the negativity and all those other things but what I've discovered is that it's difficult to do that on your own.
Think about any habit that you had. Don't have to tell anyone else. You know your habits and you know that there's habit that you tried very hard to get rid of. I don’t need to label all the different things that we’re addicted to. And usually we talking about external addiction, substance addiction. But once you get into an addiction same thought, same action and reinforcements. And so the same thoughts are gonna come.
But there is something that's called an inner addiction. Addiction to ego. Addiction to anger. Has somebody being able to conquer anger and say “no more, I’ve finished it and put a full stop. Not so easy. Maybe New Year's morning you decide I'm really going to stay calm and by the afternoon many things that happened and the result is gone within a few hours. So to try to do this on my own it's not so easy. But there is help available. And that help is from up above.
And so what I decide is… I want to learn to connect with the One above. And when I can connect to the One above I'm going to be able to draw that Power Within Myself and use this power to discipline my thoughts to keep my feelings on a high rather than allow them to become low.
That help comes when I make connection, make contact. There is a word that everyone here in this Hall has heard of but maybe you've not always understood the significance. I'm thinking of the word yoga.
Very often we associate yoga with the physical exercises and yes that is true. But the word yoga actually means union. “Yog” - to join together, to connect. The connection that I want to make is of my mind with that One. We use the word reflection, meditation, or even silent prayer. Usually when we pray it's my communication with the One above. But we don't give ourselves a chance to actually listen to what the Creator wants to tell us. Our minds are too busy to stop and pause and listen. Contemplation, reflection, meditation, different names and we use the word Raja Yoga. Raja the sovereign, the master, the yoga for which you gain mastery over the self. So we use this word yoga for that connection. Letting my mind become quiet and still so that I'm able to draw the strength that I need from above and make the changes in the way I think the way I feel in my attitude and my vision towards others and therefore also the actions that I perform.
As I continue to do this even the imprints that I carry, the imprints of addictive behavior whether its external substances or the inner addiction, I’m actually able to bring about changes and create new patterns within myself.
What is it got to do with disaster preparation? Everything. Normally we get anxious. We get confused. We get afraid and we don't know what to do. And so learning, understanding and practicing all of these things about the way the mind works is something that I do today so that I'm ready at that moment whenever disaster strikes. And it can happen in any direction at anytime to any one of us. At that moment you know what won't work? Your cell phone. I don’t think it will work. If it's an act of terrorism the government shuts down the towers. If it's an act of nature then Nature has created such upheaval that the towers are gone. So you won’t be able to contact your friend, your partner, your teacher, your mother, your fathe,r or anyone. Not possible.
At that moment your inner strength will help you but also at that moment you'll be able to make contact with the One above. Because you have practiced this. It takes just one thought to go from here to there. My mind making contact with the Divine doesn't take long. It's faster than a mobile phone, actually.
But practice. I need to be ready. I need to be able to know how to do this. And so the time that we have at the present moment, yes, you're preparing and anything can happen. But your own preparation is something that you’re doing inside. And when you've done that then you'll feel Moment by moment every moment that I practice having a pure thought gives me strength.
Every moment that I make that contact with the One above gives me strength and power. At that moment when something happens whatever it may be and maybe it's not even an external type of disaster in that way. Maybe it's an emotional disaster. I'm no longer loved by someone I love very dearly. There a state of bereavement. Things happen in human life continually and e go through so much upheaval at that moment as if it were a physical disaster. But this sort of preparation helps me on all levels. Whatever type of upheaval may come in front of me. And so now as I connect with the One above, I consciously draw the power of love and the first thing that I need to do is to be able to love. Who? Who do you think I need to know first and foremost?
Anyone know? Myself. That's not ego. It's not selfish. I need to be able to love myself. We’ve been told in the scriptures, in the Commandments, love thy neighbor as you’ve love yourself.
How come you're not loving our neighbors because we forgotten how to love ourselves. And so first step, I learn to love myself because I'm drawing that power. I am learning to be able to value myself and then I can love you and you and you and you. So often we put love in a tiny little compartment, little, little box in which the ones I love are: one two three and four. And I don't go beyond that.
But no. I have a big, big family. A whole world of human family. It's possible to learn to love all of them when I love myself. Just imagine if at that moment of disaster I'm able to love myself and everyone around me there will be total compassion, total service and the right things will begin to happen. When theres compassion then this is different energy at work then when there is fear. When there is compassion then you are not the only one who's able to give them but energy of compassion draws many people around you. Those of you who've been working in disaster knows this. That soon as you step into that scene of tragedy with compassion, there are many others who want to support you, give their finger of cooperation and help at the same time. There are ways in which we can open ourselves to be able to support and help others but also take the help of others to put things right. Because I am on my own wouldn't be able to do very much.
But if they can be a trigger that releases compassion and love and everybody comes together to support you know that this happens when everybody comes together then yes instead of looting then there's going to be saving. There’s going to be support.
A few years ago and I won’t mention the countries but there was a disaster, a hurricane that hit a country and the first thing that we heard was about the looting that happened. A couple of weeks later, a disaster hit another country and what we heard about there and saw on our television screens was that people were actually supporting and helping each other. They weren't concerned about themselves. Two very different responses to disasters. And if my presence can release the compassion and the attitude of service and support, then that's going to be a very beautiful thing.
If at that moment I am not afraid I can be a pillar of stability and strength to be able to help others around me also.
At that moment, it's not a question of logistics. It’s not a question of reasoning--maybe this, maybe that, maybe, just maybe this. At that moment what is the thought that enter your mind, you act on it. And how can I be sure that the thought that enters my mind is going to be the right one?
If for a moment I connect then the thought that reaches me isn’t just my own mind working. It’s a thought that comes from up above and it will be the right thought.
But I have to learn to trust that also. I have to be able to develop my own inner faith so that I am able to trust the thought that comes and to see – yes, things do work out when I do follow that thought. You don't have to wait for the disaster. Start experimenting with that even now. Just clearing the mind, connecting and seeing what happens as a result of that pure thought that reaches you.
Inner strength is something that we control. Inner strength is something that happens as I understand what sort of thoughts to have. Meditation would be sitting and concentrating, maybe 10 minutes, maybe for longer. But my thoughts are running all the time. That's not just for 10 minutes or 20 minutes it's absolutely all the time.
This discipline of keeping my mind in the right place, of the right caliber, and quality is something that I have to give attention to all the time. One of the things that happens is during the day human life our thoughts get pulled by the past very, very quickly. Sometimes I just have to see something, I have to hear something and it's gone. It's already gone to the past and once my mind is gone to the past it's very difficult to bring it back again to the present. And when it’s gone to the past, all the memories and experiences and feelings of the past emerge as if it was something that is happening here and now. The strength that I gain from God is a strength that allows me to put a full stop to the past so that I can be more present.
Have you been talking to somebody and you see the they're not there. They’ve gone. They’ve gone somewhere else and you say “hey come back, I don't know where you went but you're definitely not here.” The body is there but the mind is gone.
I can make sure that I stay present and not let my mind go back like a broken record to the same thing again and again and again. Why? If it's a memory of joy, fine. Keep emerging that memory and experience the feelings of joy again.
But that's not usually what pulls us to the past. It’s either the mistakes we've made or the things that we judge others to have made the mistakes.
Maybe it wasn't a mistake but my judgment is telling me that it was. I don't know the full facts of the story or details but my judgment is that way inclined. When that happens I lose track of the moment and the opportunity.
But also, I revisit and open up the wound that I'm carrying and everytime I open up the wound, of course it’s not going to heal.
I have scratch and I keep opening it up. Well, it’s going to get infected at sometime. And so not only do we have sadness about the past but we carry bitterness within us sometimes of the past also. If I'm in that condition can I make contact?
It is difficult because in the spiritual field it's not that opposites attract each other. That happens with physical domain. In the spiritual domain, it's like attracts like. When I'm peaceful, I can feel the presence of the Divine. If I'm in upheaval, I can even try to pray but is not quite working. I'm just mouthing the words, repeating the words. I'm not feeling anything. But when I let my mind become peaceful by working at it then, in the state of peace, yes I can connect very easily.
And so filled with bitterness and I'm spoiling my life now but also probably for the future because it's something that's going to carry on unless I decide to do something about it. You can see that it’s preparation is really an inner cleansing that we have to go through. Then yes, when the soul is clean, my thoughts are clean, my feelings are clean, my memories are clean, then yes I'm absolutely connected and ready for whatever may come. I have the inner power to be able to adjust, to be flexible, to cooperate, to face anything. All of these power manifest in my life.
And so how do I deal with the things of the past and the bitterness that is coming in? First step, are there lessons I can learn from the past? Let me learn those lessons and hold them today but also maybe it's just not a lesson but it is just pain that I am carrying.
There’s another aspect of giving. They say that it's in giving that we receive and at Christmas time we usually remember it. For the rest of the year we don't always remember.
But it’s in giving there is receiving. But one particular type of giving is very, very significant, forgiving.
Being able to forgive. When I take love from the Divine the heart is full and the heart is open. The heart is able to stretch and the heart is able to become generous and in that experience of generosity, then yes I can let go and I can forgive.
So let me be able to keep that connection with me so that I'm able to take that love and learn to forgive. Who benefits from the forgiving? The one I'm forgiven? Well, I'm sure that they feel the change of vibration when they still around or maybe they're not even around. If I can forgive. I’m actually giving myself the gift of freedom. People love the word freedom and when we think about freedom, what do I think about? Freedom and joy ate deeply connected. And bondage and sorrow are deeply connected. And I don't realize that holding on to the past to feelings sorrow, I am actually putting myself in bondage to the past. Taking love from the Creator and learning to let go, I set myself free and I'm free now to experience a new chapter in my life. I'm free now to experience what is present opportunity and what it offers. I am free now even to express love to others because when there is bitterness is not just bitterness against one. But it’s a poison that inhibits me from being able to share love with everyone. So the cleansing process that's part of gaining inner strength back. Sorrow weakens, and joy and happiness empowers. Just keep reminding yourself of these things especially in the early morning. Let me give you a few practical tips because I know that I have to close pretty soon but one practical tip, just as you have to charge your phone battery regularly to keep it in working order, I need to charge my inner battery, fill myself with that inner strength on a daily basis, every single day. So going to the church or the temple might be ones a week but the recharging of my battery has to be every single day. And so if your battery is charged then it's ready to do whatever you want to do. If the battery is discharged everything comes to a standstill.
So what is the time so I can recharge myself and prepare myself for whatever the day may bring. Morning time. And the good thing is that God wants an appointment with you when nobody else wants to know you. Everybody's too busy sleeping and that’s the time when you can make time for your appointment with the Creator. And so just a little bit earlier than usual, than normal. But that time is a personal time for yourself to recharge your battery every single day."