There are many good hearts in our world, in fact, everyone has a good heart. However, we have cultivated bad habits and some are hidden so deep that we don’t even know we are in conflict with our hearts. This is where we go unconscious.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
- Mohandas K.Ghandi
When I met Arun Ghandi, Mohandas Ghandi’s grandson, during the Season for Peace and Non-Violence in 2001 while living in Hawaii and being the team leader for this event, he spoke about this quote from his grandfather in a profound way and in great detail. What it takes to live this way changes your life. I chose to live each line as my truth.
As you probably know, claiming you are living a spiritual life and actually ‘being’ your spiritual life are often miles apart in action and inner integrity.
I hear people claiming they are spiritual all the time. I know they have a good heart, I hear it and see it in their actions, sometimes. It’s not always easy to match your actions with what your heart is saying.
What I’ve found is that most people truly want to be disciplined enough to live in inner integrity from their hearts to their thoughts. However, there is one major component they miss. That their thoughts are not aligned with their integrity or discipline.
You see our thoughts are conditioned. What does that mean? Our minds are programmed, conditioned, and controlled by our surroundings in a very subliminal way. We like to be ‘liked’ by our peer groups, so we do things in order to be liked. We watch television and there is subliminal programming within the ads and they are written so you don’t notice it but act on it. Such as while watching an ad on tv and listening to the list of reasons why you need this medication, you might ask yourself ‘Do I have any of those symptoms?’ Or, if you are already taking that medication and you are listening to the list of side effects, you might ask yourself the same question and then want to call your doctor to ask for the medication or to be treated for the side effects. This is subliminal. It makes you think with the conditioned mind, then act.
In fact, the ancient mind of man had this same struggle, exactly the same, we are no different.
Our conditioning will have us do things that our heart does not want to do. I’ll give you an example. I know many people who have recently come to feel awakened, then claim ‘I’m spiritual now’. What they really mean is they have chosen the spiritual path and now unlearning everything in the mind that goes against truly being spiritual.
So they share their experiences like doing good things for their neighbors, but when a neighbor accidentally topples their trash can on trash day and doesn’t pick it up, what is their first response? Yes, they get mad and yell and say things that could be harmful to their neighbor without even asking them what happened. To be spiritual is to realize you are having a reaction in that moment, then wonder what happen, and investigate it. Then you will find out it was an accident. So the next question that makes your mind angry is ‘Why didn’t you pick up the trash and put it back in the can so it could be picked up?’. The litany of questions of the mind when angry is rampant and can go on and on until there is violence. Over a trash can?
Did you see what happened in this example besides the obvious? The angry person got upset without knowing why, just because they might have felt wrong, as so many times in the past, they went unconscious! They listened only to the mind, the heart never had a chance to weigh in.
This is how we are conditioned.
If we are to break through to the next line in Ghandi’s quote Your words become your habits, you will see how violence keeps begetting more violence and anger. Whereas when you are truly on the spiritual path your integrity from your heart opens the door to a different way of being.
Another example of this - let’s say you are in a relationship and there is one thing that bothers you. This one thing has been forgiven many times and yet it still surfaces in the relationship. When you are unconscious and listening to your conditioned mind you might hear things like . . .
Next time this happens I’m going to say something (in anger/frustration)
I want this to change or stop happening
I don’t know how much longer I can stand this
We have to get rid of this thing in our relationship in order for me to stay
And on and on.
Unfortunately, the unconscious mind doesn’t know that there is another step, the one of the heart. When you are truly on the spiritual path your habits begin to change. This creates a neurobiological shift in the brain and when discipline is added it creates change.
The heart’s words are much different than the words of the unconscious mind. The heart will see this situation in this relationship and begin to question itself first. What is happening within the heart is an opening to bring in more love in your spiritual integrity with your life’s relationships. The heart will ask itself questions like . . .
When this comes up what do I feel
When they do this how am I affected, what do I really need
I wonder what would happen if I got rid of this, how much happier would I really be because I got them to change instead of me
Maybe we can talk about this further to discover what they really need and what I really need to come to a new agreement or deeper understanding of each other
What is a good way to approach my partner in this conversation
Will love to help me solve this by trusting my heart
And your relationship begins to turn around into a more bonded one than you ever thought could exist.
Can you feel how this powerful yet subtle shift can change your life?
The discipline for having inner integrity is not easy, but it’s so worth it. In the fourth line, I felt most challenged by having new actions that create new habits. This is where my clients would complain they just couldn’t keep it up. I found that by giving my mind and new phrase to replace the unconscious thought, I was more disciplined by listening eagerly and more consciously to what my thoughts say as they narrated every moment of my day.
Learning to listen deeply is one of the most powerful tools you can use to determine how your mind is misbehaving and even lying to you. What kept challenging me was to hear ‘Don’t do it that way’ or ‘Why do you keep doing that’ but continuing to do what I was doing anyway. Catching each of these thoughts became my quest. It wasn’t easy.
Over time catching some thoughts and not others and saying to myself ‘Next time I’ll be better’ I began to relax more into my body. I found that once I was consciously catching the thoughts that are always there, I could use another great tool from Byron Katie ‘Is this true?’ Those 3 words took me directly to my own divine state and reconnected me. My thoughts changed.
The habit of discipline, as you know, is a process of growth. Once you start it grows quite naturally. And when the neurobiology of your mind gets that a new track is being used, it gets really exciting.
By now you might be realizing that the last two lines in Ghandi’s quote are the most profound.
You start loving yourself more
You start thinking of what you are passionate about
You start wondering how you can change the world or your community
Your path changes - because you changed.
God bless us all.