React vs Respond
On my spiritual journey with the Brahma Kumaris, one of the many beautiful transformations has been from ‘reacting’ to ‘responding’ to situations or people. People ask me, ‘well, what’s the difference between the two?’ I understood the difference more clearly once I felt the result of both within me. Allow me to share some insights on these two R’s from my experiences.
Looking at the word ‘react’. This relates to my acts, as this word, to state the obvious, means to take action or even pretend. In spiritual terms, I also may say my emotions ‘come into action’. Anger, fear, hatred, hurt, sorrow to name a few, are all forms of gross or subtle emotional acts, which arise from my ego. Ego happens when I identify with and attach to a false image that I have created on the screen of my mind. This image can be of myself, or an object, idea, memory or belief. Pretence happens when I identify myself as the body rather than my spiritual self i.e. a soul. When someone says something critical about me to me or the situation goes against me, I feel hurt because I have identified and attached myself as the false image on the screen, thus giving birth to an emotional reaction. As I lose my ‘sense of self’, I then act through my words and behaviour, layering them with emotional pain.
The image of water boiling in a pot with bubbling molecules reminds me what happens when I am under the influence of my body. In this awareness, my ego sits in perpetual motion, that is emotion, and is agitated like the water molecules. This erupting volcano makes me react in ways that not only make myself feed unhealthy, negative food to the soul, but I also play ping pong with the other person, arguing, quarrelling, etc. and creating misunderstanding. Then we both start acting like salty water, meaning that suddenly, I begin emitting impure vibrations around me and out to the natural elements of air, water, fire, earth (flora and fauna) and sky.
But, if I switch off the hotplate and watch the water settle down, I come to a point of stillness where I can ‘respond’ with maturity and observe the situation with detached eyes. In this state, I am uninfluenced by what’s going on around me. I also feel aligned to my true self, the egoless me, the soul who has a pool of innate divine qualities inside, such as love, peace, mercy, happiness as well as the spiritual powers to tolerate, adjust, accommodate, cooperate, etc. Because I consider myself as a ‘being’ rather than a ‘doer’ through this temporary body, ego won’t come into play. I’ll be inspired to remain steady in my natural, authentic state with a peaceful mind, appreciating that ‘as is my mind, so are my words and actions.’
Hence, the stillness of the cooled water symbolises my soul conscious stage, where I am totally calm and at peace…like a pond. My response will also reflect this. And who will benefit? My thoughts, time and energy will be saved from going into waste. The other person too will benefit as my actions will be coloured by virtues and spiritual powers that I bring into action. This injection of virtues will create and sustain sweet relationships both with myself and other souls. Additionally, like an incense stick, my vibrations will release a lovely spiritual fragrance into my environment.
To close, next time you face any situation or person, stop and ask yourself: am I going to react from a false image that I created within me or respond with my innate qualities and spiritual powers? At the end of the day, the choice is mine, whether to damage the relationships with myself, others and the environment or make them blossom with spiritual beauty.
© 2016, BK Sapna