The Practice of No Reaction

March 2011

Spiritual health is measured by our ability to remain calm, focused and loving when life throws difficulty onto our paths. The practice of "no reaction" is something we should practice all day. We must learn to be like the ocean, whose waves come and go, but the ocean remains the same. Even a large, heavy rock thrown into the ocean causes only temporary ripples on its surface. The ocean's depths remain unaffected.

One of the best ways to learn no reaction is through silence. When we are anxious, angry or frustrated, we say things we later regret; we let our words fuel the reaction in our hearts.

So let us learn the power of silence. Silence on the outside will lead to silence on the inside. Silence is the time of remembering that we are more than our reactions, a time of charging our inner batteries.

If we become quiet and still, we notice that between every thought and action there is a space, a brief moment of time, a gap. First there is the thought that we want to act, then a space, then the action. The action may seem instantaneous if we are not aware, but by practicing awareness, we find that there is always a space after the thought or emotion and before the action. It may only be a split-second, but it is there. Grab that space. In that space, we must find the restraint not to act.

The more we practice focusing on the space, the more we are able to catch it. At first it will seem elusive, but with time, the space becomes longer and more conscious. We see that we really do have choice about whether to spread peace or pieces.

The Buddha once said that he was like a river. Even the strongest, raging fire cannot last a moment if it is placed into the deep waters of a river. Similarly, if someone came to him full of burning flames of anger, the flames were immediately extinguished by the flowing river of his love.

If we want to be torch-bearers of peace, we must first become rivers of love, dousing all flames of discord in the waters of our own compassion and serenity.

With love and blessings to you all,

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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