Symbols of the world's religions

ATTENTION AND RECOGNITION

Bal Natu

I was attending a concert, listening to a famous group of musicians and enjoying their singing. Though I had come a bit late to the program, I observed that many people I knew were present. However, when it was over, no one seemed to have taken notice of my arrival, not even my close friends. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by the presentation of such beautiful music. I had also been touched by the performance, but somewhere within me I felt hurt, feeling that I had been neglected by my friends. I expected at least a little attention from someone.

That night I slept well. However, when I awoke, the nightmare of feeling totally neglected at the gathering the previous evening was still hovering over me. While attending to the morning chores, I felt uneasy and was not in a good mood at all. I knew that I was harboring ill feelings from last night, but I could not let go of them.

Naturally, I thought of You, but did not expect You to visit me. However, in Your omniscience and unconditional intimacy, You walked straight into my room. Instead of looking radiant, You appeared worried and asked me with concern, "What's the matter? What's wrong with you?"

"I feel a bit out of sorts," I admitted sheepishly.

"Why? What happened?"

Somewhat awkwardly I explained, "At a musical performance I attended last night, none of my friends acknowledged me. I felt neglected, hurt, and lonely."

Some silent moments ticked away before You gently spoke. "The main cause of this is that you feel yourself to be a person who, because of age, position, or talent, has some special rights over others. You want them to pay attention to you. But in fact, you have to be more careful, more watchful, when others praise and respect you, because through such appreciation your ego-centered life is strengthened."

"I see." I swallowed with difficulty.

You continued, "You like yourself to be treated as someone special, but you should be ready to accept what others take you to be. Think of My love, which is equally for all; it has no preferences. A wildflower in a meadow and a beautiful rose in a garden have the same exposure to the sunlight above and the touch of the ground below."

"What can I do differently?" I asked humbly.

"Though beyond time, I am the One who is close to you, in and through each breath. This is the mystery in the timebound Creation that reveals My sense of humor. However, beginning to experience the bliss in My remembrance as you breathe or move about can help free you from the grip of pride and the expectation of special attention from others. When you remember Me, you gradually begin to forget the ego-centered life. With My remembrance, you will develop appreciation for the various aspects of life without any personal attachment to them. For this, let the practice of offering these attachments to Me awaken within you."

"How does this come about?"

"Offering begins to germinate and blossom by getting off the ring that binds you. This will in its course relieve you from expecting special attention from others. As a result, the raising up and dashing down of your spirit for not being recognized will begin to lessen."

"Listening to You makes me aware of my imperfections, and I feel that to become aware of Your love within me I need to traverse a different dimension. To me, this is like walking on a delicate thread, finer and more fragile than silk, sustained and guided only by Your grace. To remember You wholeheartedly," I acknowledged gratefully, "is to imbibe trust in You and to inherit the courage to go on."

"Yes," You nodded. "Then you will begin to realize that you are not someone special, and that I love all. This will gradually transform your inner life, and you shall be more and more tolerant and unmindful of whether others pay attention to you or not. Desire for attention solicits recognition, and if it is not received, this results in tension. Why not accept these happenings as My wish rather than clinging to the responses you expect from others?"

"This seems very difficult," I responded.

"True. It is a process where you stumble and fall and rise again. At each step you have to see with the eyes of the heart and the sight of faith. If you lean on Me as completely as you can, the doors to My presence will open up to you. For instance, when you enter any place, whether a drawing room or a dining room, a store or a restaurant, if you treat that space as a part of My mansion, then you will find it filled with My presence. With your focus on Me, you yourself will find other ways leading to the unwavering sublime experience of companionship with Me."

"In my relationship with You, I become aware of so many imperfections," I lamented.

You smiled. "I want your imperfections. Continue to offer them to Me without hesitation, for I am Perfection personified."

I had no idea that the so-called social conventions of life, such as whether or not one is greeted, had such a tight grip over my life. But in Your matchless way, You made me aware of such bindings and imperfections. I hope Your gift of remembrance shall, slowly but surely, wipe clear the slate of my heart. This was a wonderful revelation to me that You use my mistakes and misunderstandings as opportunities to offer the right perspectives toward life.

You left — but your profound, heart-warming words were afloat and ringing within me. And like the melodies of the temple bells, they were chanting inspiring tunes in my heart. May these help me to lead a life that shall please You.
 

INTIMATE CONVERSATIONS WITH THE AWAKENER, pp. 39-43
Copyright 1998 Sheriar Foundation

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