Recently, a coworker and I were talking about a situation we'd noticed in our workplace. We were both fairly new on the scene and we were amazed at how one person's negativity could set the tone for the entire work place. This person was not in a managerial position so her power to control others was not dictatorial but rather her negative attitude seemed to bring others down. Everyone had let her black cloud of negativity rain on their parade.
This got me wondering. How do I, as a spiritual being, treat others with love and kindness when presented with anger and negativity? I think the answer lies in realizing that what I am experiencing at this moment is not the only reality available to me. If I only see myself as a physical being then my options are pretty much limited to good old "flight or fight." If I choose to fear this person then I have given her exactly what she craves. Power over me. Not only is she trapped in this negative consciousness, so am I. So what are my options? I can try and think my way to an understanding of her motivations, but I don't think this will lessen my fear. Plus, if I try to intellectualize the situation my mind would naturally put me in the position of being above her. It's hard to be truly kind to some one when you think you are better than they are. Pity is a poor substitute for kindness. I think the only good solution lies in the realm of Spirit. This is a big realization. But as a therapist friend of mine once said, "Insight is the booby prize." Getting in touch with this love is good. Living a life based on this love is even better.
How can you do this? In many religious faiths prayer or meditation are used to stay connected to this divine love. In Eckankar we use a daily contemplation to set our consciousness for the day. A contemplation I've found useful is what I call, "The River of Love." I sit or lie in a comfortable position, close my eyes, chant a sacred name for God, "HU," (Hyooo) (or you can use any word you find spiritually uplifting), and envision myself sitting next to a large, slow moving river of Spirit. I see and feel as much detail as I can - the warm breeze, the gurgle of the black eddies in the river, the cattails swaying, the coolness of the water. Then I take the problem that has brought me to the river, gently place it in the current and turn it over to the love of Spirit. I have been amazed at how situations that I felt hopeless about are totally changed or a new idea on how to deal with it has come to me after using this contemplation. We also use the "HU" (by chanting outwardly if in private, or inwardly if in public) to reestablish our connection to the flow of Spirit throughout the day.
Another avenue open to us is our dreams. If a situation during the day is troublesome I can ask Spirit to give me some insight in the dream state. I just set paper and pencil on the night stand, chant HU for several minutes, go to sleep, and write down in the morning what came to me. If I have a hard time deciphering what Spirit is trying to tell me through my dream, I ask myself, "How would I explain this to a five year old?" Keep it simple.
This is not to say that you can turn it all over to Spirit and everything will be just lovely in the morning. Spirit may suggest that you let this person know, (in a kind way) how her actions are affecting you. Remember "God helps those who help themselves." Do your part. But don't forget that the love of God is always there to help you through.
Steve Hamilton is a clergy of Eckankar.