Baba says, ‘there isn’t a greater self-respect than what you have in this confluence age’.
I can only respect the self when I know the self. If I have no awareness or the wrong awareness of who I am, then I cannot respect myself. For half a cycle, I was lost and wandering, living like an orphan because I had forgotten who I am and Whom I belonged to. Then Baba came and reminded me of my identity and gave me my sense of belonging- He reminded me that I am a pure, peaceful soul and that I am His child. In that moment, I went from being an orphan fending for myself to a child with rights. ‘Do you have this intoxication of who you are, of the self?’, asks Baba.
This is the confluence age – so the old world still exists around me even as the new world is being established. Ravan is still alive and well and in fact, works overtime, especially now that God’s here, to keep souls in the old world. So he continues, as he has for half a cycle, to inject thoughts into my mind that try to define me by my mistakes, by what I couldn’t get done, by my past, by the failures, etc. Sometimes, he tries to define me by my accomplishments, the bank balance, the appearance, the job titles etc. When I am stable in the consciousness of being a soul, I realize that none of those things are who I am. A mistake or a failure is an event, it is not a person. An accomplishment is something I did, it is not who I am. A bank balance or a role are what I have, not who I am. Not just that but these things by their very nature come and go, they change all the time. To identify with them is to continue to live like I did for half a cycle, in a roller coaster- up one day and down the other.
I am not what I do or what I have, I am not what others say I am, I am only what God says I am– a pure peaceful soul, His child.
While many of us can protect ourselves from the gross aspects of body consciousness, I still find myself getting caught up in the subtler aspects. I find myself laboring over those sanskars I’ve been trying to change. The more I fail, the more I lose my self-respect and become disheartened. Then, the speed of my effort slows down and I come to a standstill. The issue, Baba says, is that my heart is right but my approach is wrong. Behavior modification does not help me gain self-respect, what I need is a new nature, a new heart, so to speak. If I am working on behavior modification, then I might be able to eek out a change in one place with great difficulty only to see it pop up somewhere else- because the root has not changed. Then when I hear Baba call me ‘the child that is seated on His heart-throne’ or ‘the jewel of His eye’, I think: ‘not me, Baba. I still can’t get past this sanskar, I’m just a mess’. When He calls me His worthy child, I shrink back into a corner because I think of myself as anything but worthy!
The problem is I have set myself up to fail by adopting the wrong approach. To get a nature change or a heart change, I need to approach this in the exact opposite way than what I have been doing for half a cycle. I first need to stabilize myself in who I am. If I can do this, then the nature will follow, the change will come automatically. Baba says, ‘The Father can’t bear to see His children laboring. Where there is love, there cannot be labor’. Every one of the Father’s praise is my praise, it is a title of my self-respect. I don’t have to labor or pay a price for it, I simply get to receive it as my inheritance. My approach cannot be- when I overcome this anger, when I become more patient, then I will be a worthy child of God. My approach must be: I am a worthy child of God and I have all rights, all virtues, all powers; I am the most beloved child of the Father. Unless I first stabilize myself in the correct ‘I am’, I cannot get anything else done right. I can labor all I want but I will keep on failing.
But when I allow myself to receive the inheritance of correct identity and belonging from my Father, past wounds begin to heal, I calm down, I feel a sense of security, that I am taken care of, that I belong no matter what. Then, on that stable ground, I can go about living a new life, a life that emerges from a different soil. Sure, voices in my head will scream: ‘you are a hypocrite! you are not an image of support to the world, you can barely make your own bed!’, ‘you are not seated on God’s heart-throne, you still have all these issues’. People will judge me, try to label me. Circumstances will seem like I can never rise above. But here’s the key- none of those voices, those mistakes, those circumstances have the power to change who I am…unless I give them power. The only thing that matters is who do I think I am?
If I allow myself to believe that I am my mistakes, then it will be impossible to live a life of victory; if I allow my circumstances to define me, then it will be impossible to live a life of freedom and liberation-in-life. I cannot get in agreement with Ravan and expect to live the life that God wants me to live. For that, I need to get in agreement with God. He says, ‘both you and I want for you to become equal to the Father. All you have to do for this is make your qualifications equal to your aim’. I can’t expect to develop the qualifications of being a master remover of sorrow and bestower of happiness if I am immersed in sorrow myself. I cannot expect to develop qualifications of a victorious soul if I am living like a victim of people, the past and circumstances. I cannot expect to be a master liberator if I am in bondage myself. Let me check my awareness today of who I think I am. When I get the right awareness, when I stabilize myself in who I want to be, the qualifications will follow. How? because I will start to behave that way. When I deeply believe that I am a victorious soul, I won’t let myself wallow in self-pity! Just as the wrong behaviors come about by being in the wrong awareness, the right behaviors will come by being in the right awareness. The key is to modify the awareness, not the behavior.
It’s like the story of Hanuman. Until he thought of himself as just a monkey, he couldn’t figure out how to cross the vast ocean to get to Sita. But when he was reminded of who he is, that he is a Mahavir with many specialties, he stabilized himself in that awareness. Then he flew across the ocean, defeated demons, delivered God’s message to Sita and even set fire to Lanka. ‘The intoxication of self-respect is so great!‘, says Baba, ‘does this remain in your awareness?‘ For only then can I be of use to God, in His task, for only then will I beat back demons and deliver His message with force, with confidence to my brothers and sisters. ‘The rosary of self-respect is so long‘, points out Baba. ‘Continue to count each bead and remain lost in it’s intoxication. You have received this self-respect, or titles from BapDada Himself. You have attained self-respect from God. Therefore, there is no authority that can shake your spiritual intoxication of self-respect because you have attained it from the Almighty Authority.’ Let me check today: who do I say I am? When I get that answer right, everything else follows.