The Principle of Self-Reflection
Since ancient times true religions such as Buddhism and Christianity have preached the importance of self-reflection (or repentance in Christian terms). In essence, we all have Buddha nature – a divine nature that shines brilliantly like a diamond. Just as a diamond will collect dirt if it is neglected, so our Divine nature, or soul, inevitably blacken with soot from the regretable thoughts and deeds we commit as we live in this earthly world. Self-reflection is a way to clean off the grime and discover the true self – the self that manifests divine nature and is connected to higher dimensions in the Spirit World.
"We are essentially all children of God with brilliantly shining souls. However, just as a diamond accumulates dirt if it is neglected, our souls inevitably collect dust and grime as we live in this world. We are supposed to refine our own souls, and this is actually our spiritual discipline."
"Although someone else could wash your physical body, only you can cleanse your own soul; you are responsible for polishing it."
(From the book: Ten Principles of Universal Wisdom | p21)
The power of self-reflection
We all make mistakes whilst living as human beings as we have been blessed with the freedom to do so. While many things in this world cannot be undone, what is in our mind can be washed away, as our mind encompasses past, present and future. If we reflect on our past with a pure heart, we will be able to wipe out all the records that have been written as losses in the "Thought Tape" or "Thought Belt." This is a great power with which we have been endowed. Through self-reflection we can learn from our mistakes, release attachments, increase our enlightenment and allow our divine nature to shine brilliantly once again. Another aspect of self-reflection is to reach a state of mind that is calm and relaxed, thus, allowing us to communicate with our guardian or guiding spirits in the heavenly world and receive inspiration from them. Heaven and hell exist within our minds and the focus of our thoughts leads us to many worlds. Self-reflection is a way to fine-tune our mind like a compass needle to point towards and connect to the heavenly world.
"The true purpose of self-reflection is to correct our mistaken thoughts and actions, and learn from them, thereby creating a more constructive life. Self-reflection is not just the simple act of discovering past mistakes and making up for these mistakes, like resetting a negative to zero. The ultimate objective of self-reflection is the development of a more positive self and the realization of a utopia on earth as the fulfilment of God’s will."
(From the book: Ten Principles of Universal Wisdom | p223)
Practicing daily self-reflection
Make self-reflection your daily habit. Find a quiet, clean and uncluttered place where you can use a comfortable chair or cushion on the floor, have a notebook by your side and play calm and serene meditation music in the background if you like. Try some simple exercise on your neck, back, arms and legs to release any negativity and to allow energy to flow again. Sit on a comfortable chair or on a cushion on the floor. The key is to be relaxed and to keep your back straight. When you are ready, start deep breathing. Breathe in deeply through your nose into the lower stomach, hold for a few seconds and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Continue this deep breathing for about 2 minutes in slow rhythmical cycles until you enter into a deeper state of mind. Then return to regular breathing and begin reflecting on your day using the Noble Eightfold Path as a guideline.
The Noble Eightfold Path in the context of modern life
The Noble Eightfold Path is a step-by-step guide to cease peoples' suffering and restore the freedom of the soul. Though The Nobel Eightfold Path was conceived by Shakyamuni Buddha who lived 2500 years ago, it has not lost any of its significance, even in the 21st century. On the contrary, people, living in a modern society would benefit greatly from integrating this noble path into their daily lives. The Noble Eightfold Path is the method that leads to enlightenment in spiritual terms, and helps people to discover peace and happiness while living in this world.
The Noble Eightfold Path is a path to protect us from going astray and to guide us in living a proper life – a life that leads to human perfection through the Middle Way. It is a guideline to discover what is right and what is wrong; what is real and what is false; what is good and what is evil. The Noble Eightfold Path, consisting of Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, is the most explicit guide for self-reflection.
means believing in the law of cause and effect and seeing things in exactly the same way as God would see them. It is important to check if we see ourselves, others and the world in the right way; can we view events from other peoples’ viewpoints, or even from a higher perspective from heaven. Right View helps us to gain a fair perspective on what happened during the day or on every incident that occurred around us.
means to reflect on the constant waves of thoughts that enter our mind and to remove our attachments that stick to it. It is important to examine our thoughts as if they were in a transparent glass box and to check if we would be embarrassed if those thoughts were revealed to others and to God. Our thoughts reflect the purity of our soul and determine who we are.
means to reflect on the words we used throughout the day. Right speech means to avoid false speech, abusive words, flattery and deceit. Right speech also means using wisdom and courage to criticize when something needs to be criticized, as well as positive encouragement, which is necessary to create an ideal society.
means behaving in the right way and avoiding whatever is shameful as a human being. In the context of modern life, Right Action also can be interpreted as right work. Our work provides us infinite possibilities to practice spiritually nurturing love and raise the level of our enlightenment. Self-reflection on Right Action means to check if we exerted ourselves fully and worked with all our heart and soul.
means to lead a decent, honest and moral life. In the context of a modern life, Right Livelihood would also involve the effective use of given time. When reflecting on our daily lives it is important to ask ourselves wether we are able to live one day in such a way that it is worth an entire lifetime. Right Living can be attained by integrating three actions: mental – for Right Thought; verbal – for Right Speech and physical – for Right Action. By improving our thoughts, words and conduct, we can attain this well-balanced way of life.
means making efforts to advance higher, step by step, towards the direction of God (Buddha). Whilst living a well-balanced life, it encourages us to advance towards enlightenment – to make further efforts to follow the way of God (Buddha). Right Effort means to correct our tendency to be lazy, improve ourselves, deepen our knowledge of the Truth and make every effort to spread it.
indicates the direction of a strong will that is projected far into the future. It marks an advanced level of spiritual discipline and involves visualization, prayers to God and prayers to Guardian and Guiding Spirits. Right Mindfulness is a way for us, living on earth, to come closer to God, allowing us to transcend this three-dimensional world while at the same time belonging to it.
means going through all the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path and entering a deep meditative state. It is a meditation through which we can experience true liberation of the soul while still living in this world. Only through this experience we can become free from the restrictions of our physical bodies and the restrictions of this material world, and find our true self - a being belonging to higher dimensions of the Spirit World. This state brings us great wisdom, freedom and bliss, and is one of the final objectives of self-reflection. It is a state of true happiness.
Reference book - The Laws of Happiness
Reference book - The Science of Happiness