First Understanding, Then Adjustment…………


The Conscience

The Conscience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learnt profound lessons in the last couple of days and the depth of the simple statement by Sai Baba –  “First Understanding, Then Adjustment ” echoes in my ears from the bottom of my heart even as I am typing this.

The following anecdote shows how the above statement became clear as I was trying to  cross the chasm that appeared  and how it was possible to build a bridge over that across the Continents.

It sounds simple.  4 words arranged in an order that makes sense  – Yep, I know, I follow……..How very wrong was I?

There is no randomness in the arrangement of those words in that statement.  I never understood the order of the words nor did I ever bother to understand, rhetorically, parrot like, repeating the statement to everyone and anyone who had ears to hear – within context of course, but without much thought.

Why Understanding First, why not Adjustment first?

Isn’t that what we do? Try and adjust to issues and circumstances without complete understanding? I did.

Three days ago I have transgressed boundaries in an online writing class, trying to write for a given writing prompt, cleverly, albeit unaware  at the time that that’s what I was doing,  The result backfired.  Whilst the writing itself was OK (I think), the theme and the story line it followed was not mine. I have unintentionally picked up, a thread of another person’s story and presented a continuation to that story without thinking if it is correct to do that or ask for permission.

I have breached a basic rule of writing – I was writing about something that is not My Truth or My Story.

As soon as I realised it, I have deleted the post and sent an apology email for doing what I did.  But the damage was caused by then and my trying to make an adjustment by a simplistic apology with rationalized arguments, without actually understanding was not going to be enough to ease the pain I have created to the other party.

How could I do that – the pain that question caused in me was, well, painful…….incredibly painful.  I tried to justify, rationalize, explain why I did what I did – to myself and to the other party.

The number of “How could I’s” that my conscience raised were answered with equal if not more number of justifications by my mind.  However, my conscience will not be quiet.

With every justified adjustment, it rebelled with an increasing visceral response of pain, itch and high temperature.  I continued to adjust the body thermostat with more explanations, justifications, more Coffee, increased scratching – my conscience wanting to jump out of my skin and my mind trying to contain it within its reasoned explanations.

I continued to push against the edge and stretch without making any attempt to understand either myself or the other person.  In this confused state of altered egos weighed under rationalizations and justified arguments we started dialoguing.

What emerged was incredibly beautiful.  In my own mind after a pause in the dialogue, I started a conversation with myself.

For every ‘How could I’, I offered a simple, counter “YES, I DID”

For every “I did because…..”, I cut off the ‘because’ and remained with “I DID….”

Again and again I repeatedly accepted that…….

I DID breach boundaries…..

I DID step into a territory that I did not know anything about and tried to extend that story as mine……

I DID breach Truth and Non-Violence. I DID cause hurt….

As those I DID’s start settling into my heart without any barriers, I UNDERSTOOD, then Adjustment was simply a matter of admitting that’s what I did and asking if that was the reason for the other party’s anguish expressed publicly. ‘YES’ and then followed an explanation why, as the other party felt understood.

My itch and pain disappeared instantly.  “First Understanding, Then Adjustment”.

We try and lash out, hide, drink, smoke, watch mindless TV or use any number of distractions and think that we adjusted ourselves to whatever is happening.  In that process of adjustment first, we are masking our capacity to understand and pushing it further down.

Surface adjustments with unwillingness to understand causes resentments, hatred, illness, disease and even wars.  Trying to understand without judgments, justifications, explanations and reasonings is a profound spiritual practice which makes us vulnerable because we have no where to hide but look at what’s going on squarely from our own perspective first and then from the others.

First Understanding……

Complete understanding results in acceptance and adjustment happens instantly.  The tenderness one feels when this process is complete is incredible.  No nagging doubts, no concerns of right or wrong, a complete peace descends.  Not only is the distance between two parties is closed but also the huge distance we travel between the 15″ space of Head and Heart closes as well as they merge in the flowing Love and vulnerable tenderness.

The silence from a satisfied head and heart echoes loudly in the ears saying –

“First Understanding, Then Adjustment”

So, here is a tip.  If you have unresolved issues, pull them out and try to understand the truth in the issues without argument or reasoning.  How do you know what is truth?  Your conscience will not be silent with any of your mind’s arguments.  There will be nagging doubts, a dull pain in the middle of your body, a bad taste in the mouth every time you remember, always some physical reaction to what is going on – if you observe closely.  That’s when you know that you are battling with the truth that your conscience is trying to show.  Accept the truth without judgment first from your own perspective and then from the other person’s – see what happens.

You need not even go to the extent of the other party being involved in this process.  Just see it as it appears, accept without judgment and watch the issue dissolve its hold on you as your understanding deepens.

Remember “First Understanding,Then Adjustment”

Use this – until next Sunday

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

About Padma Ayyagari

I am a Human Values Activist, passionate about and trying to live steeped in Spirituality. I live with the knowledge that Love is the undercurrent of all human life. I believe in Unity of Faiths, Unity in diversity and try and live my life with unity in thought, word and deed. Helping others to lead a life of practical spirituality that will give peace of mind is my passion and life purpose.
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