The authors of “Points of Balance”, Dr. Mansukh Patel and Chris Barrington first met at university during the mid-1970’s. It was during these university days that Chris was introduced to Mansukh’s extraordinary parents, Chhanganbai and Ecchaben Patel. On the surface, Mansukh’s parents seemed like any other Asian couple who had left their indigenous backgrounds in India and Kenya, to live in Britain during the late 1960’s.
However, no matter what was happening around this special Asian couple, they always remained calm and content, and at ease with their surroundings. What was their secret?
“Points of Balance” reveals the wisdom of the ages taught to Mansukh and Chris during these university years. They learned how to approach life with the utmost poise and balance. Under the guidance of Mansukh’s parents, these two university students integrated the “24 Guidelines for Successful Living” that have worked for people for thousands of years, and will undoubtedly continue to do so for millennia to come.
What are these “24 Guidelines for Successful Living”?
1) Non-violence: How to live non-violently? How to live without being a slave to the “reactive mind”? Mansukh and Chris state the importance of association. Do we associate with good people (or media), who live by high standards and feed us with high thoughts? Or do we associate with angry or violent people (or media)? It’s our choice!
If we want to live non-violently, then the advice from Mansukh and Chris is to cultivate the habit of good association. Choose to watch or read things that nurtures us. We have to make choices about what we eat, the things we buy, and what we watch. Mansukh’s parents taught that when the diet is pure, the heart and the mind will also be pure.
2) Truthfulness: Truthfulness is about being real; it’s about seeing things as they are. Being truthful requires courage to be totally honest with oneself.
Mansukh and Chris observe that many people fill their lives with so much activity, that there is little time left for looking at themselves. The result is a distinct lack of self-awareness.
How to develop this self-awareness? Reflect on your every interaction and ask yourself: was what I said clear? Did I put the needs of the other person first? Was my intention to create something beautiful? Was I compassionate?
3) Not Stealing: The nature of the ego is to grasp at everything around it. We call this the “wanting mind”. It is always creating preferences for what it wants, and for possessions.
Mansukh and Chris advise that when you find your mind telling you that you need something, simply ask yourself the following questions: Do I really need this? Do I want this for myself, or will it benefit anyone else?
When you ask these questions and look at yourself in this way, you start to understand the ego’s grasping nature.
How to overcome “the wanting mind?” Mansukh and Chris state: “When you enter the mode of giving, you leave the mode of wanting. Learn to give things away!”
4) Non-attachment: Non-attachment involves becoming free from our own expectations of how we would like the world to be, and how we think people should behave in it. Mansukh and Chris state the importance of being open to and assimilating new perspectives that free us from emotional clutter and the extreme swinging of our moods.
How to cultivate non-attachment? Learn to live in the moment by practicing the art of meditation.
5) Humility: Mansukh’s father once said that if you want to reduce your shadow, then bring yourself closer to the ground! What does this mean? It means developing humility.
For example, do you always need to get the last word in? Are you concerned about how you appear in case you look bad in front of others? Do you spend time thinking about how good you are at one particular thing?
To develop humility, Mansukh and Chris suggest that, yes, do good works, but don’t take the credit for them. When generosity becomes second nature, and we do not seek recognition for our generosity, then humility has found a place in us. Give gifts without the receiver knowing who they are from.
6) Non-possessiveness: Non-possessiveness happens when we simplify and remove the clutter from our lives. The possessions that we have around us affect the degree of clarity that we have. A tidy and ordered mind often reflects itself in tidy and ordered environment.
Mansukh’s father once said that we have possessions, we invest part of our energy in them. Consequently, the more energy that we put into the things around us, the less energy is available for the process of self-transformation.
Mansukh and Chris suggest that we ask: Is my home cluttered with a lot of unnecessary things? How many of the clothes in my wardrobe do I really need? How often do I wear them anyway?
The key to developing non-possessiveness is give more of your time and self. Whatever it is that you want, you should first give. So, if you want love, you first give love. Everyday make a list of people to whom you will send a gift!
7) Respect for the Principles that Empower us: What are the principles that empower us? What principles enable our life to flow in the direction that we would like it to go? What principles in our lives create harmony and unity?
Mansukh and Chris advise us to make a list of our strengths and weaknesses. How can we turn our weaknesses into our strengths? How can we use the principles that empower in every aspect of our lives?
One key for self-empowerment is to have a purpose in our lives. When we have a clear purpose and intention for what we would like to accomplish, then there is a greater likelihood that we will achieve our goals.
8) Living the Highest: What is the highest? Quite simply, it means living with oneness, unity, and having a vision which goes beyond the mundane.
How do we develop this oneness, unity and vision? Mansukh and Chris suggest that we take time to be in nature, and to practice meditation. Meditation will help us feel connected with all of life, and our purpose will be made clear.
9) Silence: Practicing silence means that we learn to listen more than we speak; to listen even to our own words. If we do not taste our words before they leave us, how can we be really sure of the flavor that is being given to the people to whom we speak?
Mansukh and Chris advise that we choose at least one day every month when we can be completely silent. Carry a notebook and pen when you are silent to record the ideas that come. Gradually, you come to value this special, silent time.
10) Steadiness: Being steady means being firm in your intentions and unaffected by the things that life throws at you. Steadiness means that you are a rock for others to lean on, when they take shelter from the storms of life. Your unwavering balance attracts others to you, because they know that they can trust your stability.
How steady are you? How are you affected by people’s words? How reactive are you? How much are you ruled by what the world presents to you?
Mansukh and Chris state that being steady requires inner strength that flows from a conviction about what you are doing.
11) Patience: Being patient is not just about waiting. It arises from an inner stillness, and a certainty about the goal you wish to see.
Are you patient? Do you get frustrated when you have to wait? Do you get irritated by other people and the way that they do things?
Mansukh and Chris state that to move forward in life, we have to cultivate patience that arises out an acceptance of where we are in life, as well as the vision to know where we are going in the future. If you do not have patience with yourself, how can you expect to have patience with others, or with situations in your life?
12) Courage: Courage is the key to so many things in life. Mansukh and Chris suggest that we make a list of everything you would like to do, but are afraid to do. Look closely at the the reasons why you are afraid, and ask: “what could happen if I actually did this?”
To succeed in any endeavor requires a degree of risk. Evaluating risk is a necessary part of the adventure. But when you have decided to proceed, then put your whole energy to the task!
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13) External Purity: External purity is about having an attitude of clean living. Mansukh and Chris encourage that we generate an attitude of tidiness in all things. Keep your clothes tidy; keep your environment neat; and keep your body clean. This all reflects the tidiness of your mind.
14) Internal Purity: Is it not true that purity of mind is the key to success in all relationships? How to foster purity of mind? Keep association with positive people. Mansukh and Chris advise avoiding spending too much time in the presence of those are angry or continually upset.
If you do come into the presence of anger or emotionality, spend a few moments afterwards walking on the earth. You will feel renewed. Also, every so often you should sleep outside on the earth. You will feel refreshed.
15) Singing Power Words: A power word is a phrase or word that is sung repeatedly in order to bring a particular state of consciousness to the singer. Mansukh and Chris state that the most ancient and well-known power word is the great world Om, or Amen. These power words awaken positive qualities in our lives. They are infused with the energy and intention of the very highest.
16) Creative Discipline: Every situation in life that we want to succeed in requires hard work. The “hard work for personal success” is what we call creative discipline. When we work hard in any area of our life, it moulds our character, and we grow as people.
How to grow? Mansukh and Chris invite us to: do good to one person everyday without their knowledge; sing a definite number of power words everyday; make a commitment to keep a fixed time every day for your meditation practice.
17) Make Life Sacred: When we live our life with sacredness, by implication we make it very special. Mansukh’s parents taught that sacredness is associated with celebration. When we can view life as something worthy of celebration, it allows us to feel joy, even when we encounter problems. Mansukh and Chris state that we need to make sure that our own attitude of celebration is unassailable. No moment in our life is ever repeated; every moment is precious.
Every day make sure that you take time to think of who you would like to include in your celebration of life, and how you will actually make it happen.
18) Faith: Faith is the complete and utter trust in the universe. It means that there is a purpose behind every event in your life, and that everything is exactly as it should be. Mansukh and Chris write that having faith means that we have to trust, and to test our our trust, we have to be able to listen to the still inner voice and to follow its instruction. Its an active dialogue between us and the universal intelligence. We have to be prepared to listen.
19) Hospitality: Hospitality means treating whoever comes in front of us as very special. Mansukh’s father taught that no one should ever leave you empty-handed, because there is always something to give them in this moment.
Being hospitable arises from this attitude that the most important person in your life is about to arrive. Are you ready for them? What gifts will you give to them? How can you help them? When we begin to think in this way, then the gift of true hospitality becomes ours.
20) Silent Gratitude: Why is it that it takes tragedy and suffering to make us put our hands together in prayer? It is simply that we are such creatures of habit that we easily get used to the comfort of feeling happy, and we forget to be grateful. Mansukh and Chris urge us to simply express gratitude for being alive. Once we can accept that everything is perfect, there can only be a sense of gratitude for the perfection in each moment.
21) The Power of Walking: There are many benefits of walking. It generates health and vitality, and it activates energy flow through the body. Walking is a means of taking time out to gain perspective on our lives, and to give us the opportunity to be exposed to natural light.
Mansukh and Chris believe that when we dedicate the purpose of our walking to some ideal such as world peace, or with the intention of helping someone in need, it gives tremendous strength to your step as well as having a transforming effect on you as a person. If you want to tune in to the power of walking, then give your walk a meaning. Otherwise, it becomes just a holiday.
22) Acting and Desiring the Highest: Be pro-active in seeking to serve others. Think and plan out how you can serve others. It is always a matter of intention and planning. If it is your intention to serve the world, then the chances are that you will succeed.
Mansukh and Chris state that if your intention is pure, then your obstacles to success will be removed. Have the intention to always act for the good of all beings. At the end of everyday, reflect on how effective you were in serving others. What did you do? Did you miss any opportunities? Evaluate what you have to work on tomorrow.
23) Contentment: Contentment is a state of inner balance regardless of circumstances. Contentment is a choice that we make from day to day, from moment to moment. This means that whatever the circumstances that we find ourselves in, there is always a choice as to how we can look at life.
Mansukh and Chris write that when we make a choice to be happy, then we find that no matter what life puts in our way, we will always be able to find happiness.
24) Respect for That which Teaches Us: Mansukh’s parents always treated everyone they met with the greatest respect, no matter who they were. When we practice respecting the teacher in everyone, it guarantees that the teacher in them will become present and available to us.
Mansukh and Chris offer that one way to cultivate this respect is to carry small gifts with you, so that you can give them to people that you meet throughout the day. Another way to cultivate this respect is to take an active interest in lives of everyone you meet, and to ask them how you can help them.
Mansukh Patel and Chris Barrington have offered us “24 Guidelines for Successful Living” to promote total health and well-being of mind, body and spirit. These 24 guidelines give energy, vitality and strength to the one who practices them regularly. You will find that your whole approach to life will move from local to global concerns; you will become a “point of balance”; and your life will be enriched beyond measure.