Everybody is unique and extraordinary. Everybody is gifted with some creative talents. Flowering these talents is self-actualization and all actions guided in this direction strengthens our Buddha Nature and is known as Right Action or Samyak Karma which is one of the constituents of the Eight Fold Path of Lord Buddha. In other words, to be proactive or extraordinary is Right Action. It is the golden mean between inactivity and over-activity, sluggishness and nimbleness, stillness and restlessness.
We can start living our ordinary life in an extraordinary way. The simplest and most effective way of living an extraordinary life is living in awareness. Whatsoever we do, we should do it with self-remembrance. Our actions should be rooted in our consciousness and freedom, not in reaction of what others are doing. Reaction is not right action, it is governed by unconscious mind, and it is controlled by others. Reaction is never free. It has strong bondages with the person or principle we are reacting against. Many times we are not as much bound and attached to friends as we are bound to foes. Friends may not be able to change our life, but enemies do make a great impact on our life.
We can choose anybody as a friend, but we have to be careful in choosing an enemy, because sooner or later we are going to become like him, or even worse than him. Reaction takes us downward. Right Action moves our energy upward, and allows us to grow.
Ordinarily man lives identified with the body and the mind, at the level of the personality. The moment we start transcending the personality we start becoming extraordinary. We start living mostly on higher planes, at the level of our individuality and divinity.
Once passing through a village, Gautam Buddha was insulted by a few people. They did not like his philosophy and were very angry. They were abusing Buddha. He listened with patience. When they became exhausted, he said, “Friends, please just answer my one question. Before reaching your village, I crossed a small town. Some people came to see me. They brought sweets for me, but I had already taken my meals about an hour ago, so lovingly I returned their gift with gratitude. I told them that right now it was not needed, next time whenever I would pass through their town, I would definitely knock at their doors for begging. Now my question is: what they would have done with those sweets? Kindly tell me your answer.”
That angry group replied, “Are you a Buddha or a Buddhu? (Buddha means enlightened one, andBuddhu means an idiot) .You stupid, can’t you understand this simple thing, even a child can comprehend what they would have done with those sweets? They must have distributed sweets to the family members, to the neighbor, and must have eaten themselves as well.”
“Thanks for your wise answer,” Buddha smiled, “I did not accept their sweets, so they consumed it themselves. I did not receive your abuses and angry words also; I wonder what are you going to do with them? I am a Swami (master) of myself. I am free to select whether to accept or reject something. As I did not receive sweets, similarly I don’t need your anger, hate, condemnation, criticism, and abuses. That’s why I was listening peacefully. Dear friends, I am feeling pity on you. Are you going to distribute this rubbish to family, neighbor, other villagers, and amongst yourself?”
Buddha’s action was not a reaction. He acted out of super-consciousness, and freedom. Those people could not force him to be angry and hateful. He remained peaceful, loving, smiling, and compassionate. Rather, he used this incident to teach a beautiful lesson to them about right action.
‘Swami’ a word, used for sannyasin, is very significant; it means a master of his actions, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and his whole life. Swami means an extraordinary and proactive person, who lives his life neither according to tradition, nor in revolution. To be in reaction is as much a bondage as following someone, or a certain philosophy, ideology, principle, religion, system, etc. Follower and rebel are equally bound, one in favor, other in antagonism. Both are dependant. An independent person does not waste his energy in favor or against somebody, he tries to understand other’s views and opinions, but always makes his own decisions with responsibility and uses his precious time in finding out his individual way to develop the hidden talents within himself and live life accordingly in joy. To achieve this target some guidelines given below may be considered:
- Give greater importance to positive values like friendship, love, life, joy, laughter, self-expression, and creation.
- When confronted with an obstacle, try to bring improvement in the system, rather than fighting any individual.
- Honor your commitments.
- Turn breakdowns in relations into breakthroughs.
- Work for self-satisfaction rather than for duty alone. Responsibility means ability to respond. The word ‘duty’ carries serious connotations, so let us use ‘responsibility’ instead. In the above mentioned story it is Buddha’s response, not a conditioned reaction, not a psychologically programmed behavior, not a pre-determined performance. He responded to a situation out of his consciousness in that moment. That ability of response is responsibility.
- Do something creative for your own contentment and in the larger interest of the society, the nation, and the world. Action coming out of compassion to help someone is an extraordinary action. Our heart feels for others- this is a natural phenomenon. We can observe it in animals and birds also.
A priest often used to quote the statement of Jesus- “if someone slaps on your cheek, give him your other cheek also. If somebody snatches away your coat, give him your shirt also. A man, tired of listening to this sermon, decided to test whether the priest himself follows Christ or not. One Sunday, as soon as the priest finished his speech, the man reached close and slapped him. Very religiously, the priest showed him the other cheek. But that man thought it’s better to examine completely. He slapped the other cheek as well. To the surprise of audience in the church, the priest jumped over that man and started beating him very cruelly. People rushed and somehow saved that man. He asked, “What happened to your sermon and Christ’s teachings?”
The priest replied, “My Lord has only mentioned to give the other cheek, I did follow him exactly. But he said nothing regarding what is to be done after the second slap. Moreover, I don’t have third or fourth cheek. Therefore, I have to use my own intelligence in such a case. And that’s what I did.”
- Your actions should come out from your own feelings and conviction, rather than from your social conditionings. Revengefulness is conditioned by the mob-psychology; everybody around us is doing it. We have learned it from others.
- Accept the failures, rather than forwarding reasons for the same. Do not blame luck, God or others for your failures. Take responsibility yourself.
- Rise above silly things like ‘I am right and you are wrong’ or ‘I am justified and you are unjustified’.
- Be always punctual and honor your commitments.
Being Proactive: Being proactive or to take initiative is one of the most important values in life. People, who cannot take initiative in the direction of their growth, miss many things in life. For example, unless we take initiative to be happy with ourselves, we cannot be happy with anything or with anybody else. The first step is to be happy with one self. Then whatsoever we do will have a fragrance of our grace, our silence, our love, our joy in it.
We are often afraid of taking initiatives. It involves risk of opposition, criticism, and at times rejection too. That is why most of the people like to be passive, waiting, and part of the crowd. They live at the minimum of their life energy. Not that all initiatives result into success. But it is better to try and fail and learn, rather than living at the receiving end.
Right action means enjoying the thrill of initiative. It makes us lively. It gives us glow, charm, grace, and beauty. This is the only way to grow in life.
After graduation from university, young Mulla Nasiruddin went to see Seth Chandulal, the richest man in the city; and asked his secret of success. Chandulal said, “Very simple, No secret! I always do the right thing in my business.”
“Please tell me how do you decide what is right or wrong action?” Mulla’s curiosity increased, “I also want to become successful but do not know the art of taking the right decision.”
“Don’t worry; slowly you will learn when you become experienced like me.”
“Sir, kindly inform me, how did you become so knowledgeable and experienced?”
“By taking wrong decisions,” replied Seth Chandulal.
Self Analysis: Have you ever faced any breakdowns in relations? Will you be happy if the broken relations are reestablished? But are you waiting for the other party to take initiative?
No! You seize this opportunity to flower the extraordinary hidden within you. You take the initiative and turn all such breakdowns into breakthroughs.