Split second pause in the midst of action was one of the secrets of Bruce Lee's success. He said: "Many martial artists attack with the force of a storm without observing the effects of their attack on their opponent. When I attack I always try to pause, stop action, to study my opponent and his reactions before going into action again. I include pause and silence along with activity, thus allowing my self time to sense my own internal processes as well as my opponent's."
The Japanese have moon-viewing parties at which no conversation is allowed. They merely sit in the elegant surroundings and watch the moon rise, and nurture ones appreciative abilities.
In the United States many top Managers spend a quiet hour in introspection each day, free from appointments or phone calls. This has resulted in increased production and fewer problems.
In our hectic schedules we never plan for empty slots for doing nothing. This concept of doing nothing, which has nothing to do with just not something, is also an activity and exercise. For example the pause in a piece of music or in a beat is not lack of music, it is an integral part of the composition. Meaningful pauses enable one to take stock of oneself. It also allows room for appreciating people and the good things they do.
Pauses play a crucial and guiding role in one's life. They may, on the surface, seem to be time-wasters because you see no immediate results. But in the long run you realise the benefits of daily reflection. Thoreau's solitary reflections on the shore of Waldon Pond, Massachusetts, unveiled many hazy and hidden truths of life. He built a small home with his own hands and lived in it for two years. The purpose of his retreat was to investigate whether he could live life on the basic necessities, namely, food, shelter, clothing and fuel. He writes after his experiment, "....... most of the luxuries and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind."
We all need to adopt pauses in everyday life to reassess our groundings in domestic and spiritual matters. Without proper introspection one can never gauge one's successes or failures.
A distinguished explorer spent a couple of years with the natives of Upper Amazon. He once embarked upon a further exploration of the Amazon jungle. He was very eager to chart new terrains and thus urged the natives, carrying the supplies to hurry. The first two days they complied to the explorer's commands. They took the minimum rest, getting up immediately each time the explorer told them to. But on the third day the exhausted natives took an unscheduled rest. The explorer got irritated and ordered them to start walking. The chief explained they were spent and couldn't move further until their souls had caught up with their bodies.
In our over indulgent schedules of work and entertainment we forget our spiritual identity. We become tired of life and need a pause to reclaim our lost soul.
Each day Schopenhauer retreated to a nearby garden and pondered about his true identity. He would begin by asking himself, "Who am I?" One evening the gardener came to lock the gates and saw Schopenhauer. He shouted to him, "Who are you? It's time to leave..." Schopenhauer replied, "I am trying to find out who I really am."
Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains how trivial we become due to our extroverted tendencies. He says, "The soul that resides in one's body has an inclination of seeing things without. It perceives beauty and ugliness, youth, old age and many other physical aspects of life but it never sees its own self. Such a person is ignorant among the ignorants,..."
In the Katha Upanishad the Lord of Death in a dialogue with Nachiketa says:
"God created the senses with outgoing tendencies; therefore man beholds the external universe and not the internal self (atman)..."
Our ears can detect and listen to even a distant noise. In fact all our sense organs gallop outward toward their objects.
"...... But some wise men with eyes averted i.e. senses turned away from sensual objects, desirous of Immortality, see the atman within." (2.1.1.)
This state of introvertedness is the pause we have been referring to all through the article. Like Bruce Lee, who evaluated the impact of his every attack, we need to analyse the effect and worth of our daily actions. The man who sharpens knives or tools always stops to see whether the instrument has been sharpened enough. Similarly, daily pauses enable us to see whether we are straying or overdoing anything in life.
Gunatitanand Swami draws our attention to the importance of introspection and evaluation in our lives. He says, "The white man takes the shelter of his bungalow to ponder and unburden himself of his problems and frustrations. Similarly, we must spare time for introspection from our routine work." ('Swami ni Vato' Ch.II No.182).
An incident from the lives of Mulji and Krishnaji (devotees of Bhagwan Swaminarayan) echo the importance of pausing before a major decision. The story says that Mulji and Krishnaji had a burning desire to join the monastic order of Swaminarayan. But a stiff refusal from their parents hampered their dream from materializing. After several years of striving they left home for Gadhada, where the Lord resided. They requested Bhagwan Swaminarayan to initiate them into the monastic order. Bhagwan Swaminarayan in reply cautioned them, "The monastic life is a bed of thorns. You'll have to bear the burning heat and stinging cold, the brunt of insults and persecutions from the sadhus (outside the fold). Are you both ready to swallow all this? Go, and ask this to your self."
A pause was offered to the devotees. The Lord wanted them to find out whether they were really equipped for the rigors of ascetic life. Mulji and Krishnaji examined their minds and returned radiant and victorious. They returned with one resolve to embrace the ascetic path. The Lord initiated them both; appointing one of them as the head of the Amdavad mandir and assigning the other to stay at the Junagadh mandir.
Govindram and Mayaram Bhatt were blood brothers and devoted disciples of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. They too realized the importance of reflection. Once, they decided to set up a small shop in Mangrol - their hometown. The two of them started discussing about how they could start and what things they could sell. The subject dragged on for the whole night. When the cock heralded the break of dawn the two of them paused and looked at each other in surprise. A single thought crossed both their minds. Mayaram suggested they shelve the idea of starting a shop. Govindram agreed instantly. The reason was simple. Both inferred at the end of their uncompleted marathon discussion that if the initial planning stage took them the entire night then they wouldn't have any time to spare for prayers and worship once the shop was booming! Both brothers made no compromises in sacrificing their prospective material gains.
Gunatitanand Swami says, "We should always think about why we have come (in this Satsang) and what we are doing." Only through daily reflection do we get a clear picture of our purposes and actions.
The quiet hour adopted by top managers, the moon watching party (for appreciating), the pauses we have in music, the retreat of Thoreau (for truth), the search of self by Schopenhauer, the moment of final decision for Mulji and Krishnaji and the two brothers who decided to refrain from starting a business - all these illustrate the importance of pauses or daily reflection in our lives.