This 2-day workshop, Realise Your Divine Potential, organised by NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health, was conducted by Dr. Debabrata Sahani, a consultant ophthalmologist and NAMAH editor. It had two intensive, 90-minute sessions which dealt with some questions that we need to ask ourselves and some paths that we can walk on if we want to realise our divine potential. About 25 people registered for this event.
Both days were highly reflective and encouraged the participants to ponder on some important questions related to (1) What is Divine Potential? (2)Why do we aspire to realise our Divine potential? (3) When will we realise this potential? and (4) How can we realise this potential.? The talk was nicely broken into clear sections and Dr. Debabrata paused and took questions from participants after each topic.
Session one: The objective of the workshop was defined right in the beginning and the workshop started with the introduction of the three questions that we all need to ask ourselves:
- WHY do we want to realise our divine potential?
- WHEN are we going to do this? (Reference to time, this life)
- HOW are we going to realise those Divine potential? (This was stated as the main crux of the workshop)
Dr. Debabrata set the tone of this workshop, by saying that through this workshop everyone will be talking to their selves and not listening to him. He asked us to focus first on the question of WHY. When I want something, why do I want it? He said the main reason why we badly want something is that we might feel we do not exist without it. Our breath falls into this category and after this comes food & water. If we don’t get them above, pain starts, and it can result in death. The keyword here that he stressed throughout the workshop was PAIN.
Accordingly, to him, this state of pain, the state of discomfort is the beginning of all ‘want’. Unless we have discomfort, we will not want it. He elaborated on this further by saying that we want a thing because without it, life is either uncomfortable or life will end. And then we were asked to reflect on this question whether without realising our divine potential is our life painful, is there any discomfort, any unease? He asked us to think about how many times we have experienced this discomfort of not realising the Divine. He further mentioned that if we are okay with a life of little happiness, we are not aspiring for any Divine potential. The need for divinity starts when we do not accept life as it is. Unless, deep within us, we feel life should not be like this and we want to experience more, then only this journey starts. He said that the truth of our lives is that most of us, 90% of the time, really just want that our mind and body should not get hurt. So, the reason we never reach our Divine potential is that we never want it enough.
He asked us to face the fact that the way human life, body, mind is made, life cannot be good. Old age, disease, discomfort is going to come and the mind, which is centred around the ego, is going to get hurt every day. Unless we accept this fundamental fact that life cannot always be good, his session would become another talk show. He then told us to remember all those events where we were badly injured physically, psychologically, etc. He said that this pain has a tremendous force & it adds intensity. In this physical creation, pain is a very important stimulant. And apart from this pain, there is also an intellectual discomfort, when we think we are ignorant, and we want to know – this too can push us, but mostly it is not enough, pain is needed. He said that this is how Siddhartha became Buddha. He saw old age, diseases, death, and he wanted to find a way out.
Further, he mentioned that as Sri Aurobindo says, “Pain is the hammer of Gods”. Pain makes us aspire for that divinity, for ordinary people, only pain works. And we want to reach our divine potential because the divinity will take me out of our pain and, it will be the answer to all our life problems. We must realise that our problems will not vanish, but they will help us in realizing our Divine potential. My greatest tool on this path is my pain and problems. To end this part, he asked us to reflect– are we ready for the journey? Do we have that pain and discomfort in our life to look for the Divine, to look for the ultimate solution? This answers the WHY we need to realise our Divine Potential.
The next step that was discussed was WHEN ~ this is about time. When will I start, how long will I work on it and when will I get it? Here Dr. Debabrata shared with the group that to walk on the path there is a timeframe. He stipulated that 50% of our goal can be achieved in 25 years, adding that in these times, in the 21st century, a beautiful Force and Grace is working, hence it will take just 25 years and 25 lifetimes! He shared with us that if we take a small but steady step, after a few years things start to change.
He said that comfort and forgetting and getting over our pain make us lax. He said that if we forget pain, pain comes back and if it does not come back, we do not progress. So, it’s very important for us to think that if not now, then when? He said we must make a resolution that – I will do something every day to realise my Divine potential. If we want to increase our intensity, we will have to believe that we do not have a tomorrow - we just have today. We must remind ourselves that today is the last day of our life. He shared an interesting thought that every death is a long sleep and every sleep is a small death. We must reprogramme our minds. Every night we should think that what did I do today to realize my divine potential, to come out of this mess? He told us that unless we bring in death, things will not change. Unless we are hit hard, things don’t move as there is so much inertia, laziness in us. Just like stones. So many births, so much pain, but still we are not awakening. I keep thinking I have time. If we want to add intensity to our practice, we must remember our death and the death will happen tomorrow. He suggested that we do a practice where we visualise our body, after our death getting buried or burned. He asked us to keep reminding ourselves of this truth of our life.
This session ended with a comment from James, wherein he said that if we can live truly, we can learn to die truly and vice versa. Everything centres around aspiration, aspiration being the fuel to progress. It is the intensity. He said that we must aspire to think about the Divine all the time. In the end, Dr. Debabrata asked all participants to think about divinity and our mortality for a few minutes or hours a day. Dwell on it. We can then go beyond our mortality into our true immortality.
Dr. D started session 2 by asking us if we remembered all those painful moments? And he said that if we don’t then we should know that when grace touches us, life will be extremely painful, if we have forgotten our pain then we will be badly wounded and that will be a wonderful stimulus to jump towards the Divine. Pain is a platform, and it will break our inertia and attachment and propel us to move towards our goal.
The focus of this session was on the HOW. How do we develop our divine potential? He gave us three main areas to work on: (1) PEACE (2) STRENGTH (3) LOVE. He said that on the way towards our goal when we are experiencing these three states it means we are on the right track.
About Peace, Dr. Debabrata said that the moment we experience peace, we can be sure that we are moving in the right direction. And this peace will be associated with a certain amount of silence. He said deep within us there is a (cool) space, we can connect to that space & all our pain can move within that space. We must aspire to reach that space within, through the day, in everyday activities. The session took us to find this space again and again. The prerequisite is that there should be a Will to go within and this is done through daily scheduled attempts to go deeper: a continuous attempt to go deeper throughout the day. He beautifully said that throughout the day, we need to have this constant reminder that I have to reach that space within me. The good news is that the moment you touch that space, there will be peace and silence. He said that if we meditate but do not aspire throughout the day, it will never happen.
He then came to Strength and mentioned that there is an innate aspiration towards strength within all of us, weakness hurts us. He said that we all must take up some work that is challenging and that will help us experience the divine strength. He prompted us to ask ourselves, what is the purpose of our life on earth? Do we have a challenging goal? He said that without challenges, our life will be very monotonous. It was mentioned that if the Grace comes, it will give us a huge task, beyond our present capacity & then we will experience strength daily. When we do something beyond our capacity, we experience a Force that is vast, deep, beyond, working through us. We get connected to a huge source of Force. But this is tough, as 99% of people just focus on earning money and entertaining the senses.
When asked how to invoke peace, he said we could do it through our faith, we can invoke His Presence. Just remember, our Lord, is there within. That Presence changes the atmosphere. Have faith that the Divine resides in our hearts. Those who do not have faith, can concentrate above their head and call in peace. If someone cannot do either, the last tool is a divine name, mantra, sound vibration. He said that this must be done throughout the day.
Talking about LOVE, he said that people are in love with many things but the most difficult obstacle is relationships. Every time we go deeper, we see there is no love at all. The moment we get closer to a person any interaction, emotional, financial, lot of possibility arises that friction comes and there is no love. But the beauty is that this friction can prompt us to look for Divine Love. The fallacy, inadequacy of human relationships is something that we can experience daily and this is a valuable step to look for divine potential and love. He spoke about our journey from personality to impersonality – for which we must expand beyond our family members as through this, our human love, starts changing. One key element he spoke about here was responsibility. If we take responsibility of others, they become our family and then love starts happening. Like pain, he said responsibility is also a tool to experience our divine potential. If we feel responsible we experience love, because responsibility always adds an element of sacrifice. The joy of giving starts happening and this joy is an integral part of Divine Love. He said that our consciousness gets contracted unless we take up a few more people as part of our family.
He elaborated on the 25 years’ time window that it’s as if one sits an exam for 25 years and keeps ailing. But one does not stop trying and that is called perseverance. One meets failure, but one is ready for such failures. He said that if we are not ready to digest failures this path is not for us as even after 25 years too, 50% of the time we are failing. He again stressed the fact that there should be something that you must be doing every day where you experience love, peace, and strength.
Towards the end, he gave some do’s and don’ts. Basically, saying that if we set a few routines for our body and mind, it will create an atmosphere in us to explore our divinity. He said our body should not trouble us. The body needs a few things, a little bit of food, water, sleep, rest & movements. One must choose one’s food wisely. Food should make us light. Remember to drink and for movement do some, yogasanas. Furthermore, there is a love for trash in our mind and we must try to reduce it a little bit and it would be a wonderful practice to get some friends with whom one can read & discuss, a regular weekly event, books that help us find our divinity.
He stressed repeatedly that unless pain hurts us, unless we see our death, there will not be any intense aspiration. Without intensity & invoking, our movements will be slow. Instead of 25 years, it will take 25 lifetimes. He said that if we focus on the three key things he told us about in day-to-day life, we will soon experience that we become more than the body & mind, a different dimension will open up to us gradually, which will become a source of peace and divinity and every time we are in trouble outside, we can go deep within and get connected.
In response to a question, he spoke about group souls. When a soul aspires, it does not aspire alone, a group of souls comes to aspire together. One can make a concentrated effort, aspire or search for them and from this sea of people one will find some people who we are connected to. Once we start searching for them, they will come to us. Once we find them, our life journey will be so interesting, now is the hour of evolution and the group souls have come. He gave a very beautiful visual wherein he said he keeps his hand outstretched so people can hold it, but does not close his fists. Many will come, hold and leave.
When asked about work, he said not to give more than eight hours a day & six days a week. Do not give more than 2-3 hours to your family life. Create space and when you have time, then start experimenting with how you want to expand. On daily basis, we must have 2-3 hours for ourselves. No family life, no job, just us alone. Watch the sky, do chanting, etc, take time for reflections. He said that we have been sent on earth and have a mission to fulfill, so we must search for that purpose. Mostly, we do not have time to search for that purpose. He advised us to work with children as working with children is beautiful. They are less complicated, and the love part just flows. For our nourishment, we must work with the new souls that have arrived, they need love and joy.
Closing the workshop: this session ended with a comment from James in which he said that we must expand our horizons, expand our interaction and expand our experiences.
Which aspects of the workshop did you find most interesting and helpful?
“All was great.”
“Thought provoking. Sleep & Death.”
“The practical aspect with reminder of what we should apply and how to challenge our practice in order to progress. The part about facing one's pain was most challenging and one has to be brave but that is what could accelerate healing, connect to your inner being and advance on the path.”