One of the central teachings that Papaji imparted to me was to “throw away your measuring stick.” When I really took that in, I got to see firsthand how much a part of my life was spent measuring. Measuring and comparison can also be useful. They can help us to see what works and doesn't work, where food is and where it is not, where danger is and where there is safety. When we over internalize these particular strategies, however, we begin to see how they become a constriction to living our lives in a fulfilled way. Measuring becomes a habit that keeps us less than we truly are and contributes to our tendency as human beings to make war within ourselves and with our outer world.
As we become spiritual seekers, we translate that mechanism into comparing ourselves with the great beings who have come before us—Christ, the Buddha, Mohammed, Ramana Maharshi, or any saint or idealized version of ourselves such as our “higher self” or some archangel watching over us. Rather than simply allowing ourselves to be infused by the life-giving properties that these great beings or archetypes reflect back to us, we begin to measure ourselves against these angelic qualities and of course we can never measure up. We are overly aware of our own frailties—our old habits, our tendencies to get emotionally triggered, even our genetic makeup—and we can become deflated and sense a huge distance or a gap between who we experience ourselves to be and who we think we should be. The measuring stick gets in the way of the immediate direct experience of ourselves as that which we love in these great beings.
I invite you to be willing to stop all measuring. Stop measuring any distance between you and me, between you and anyone you love, or between you and who you think you should be. Just as an experiment, suspend your capacity to measure. Not as a dogma, and not because measuring is wrong and not measuring is right, but simply as a means of discovery.
You can ask yourself these questions: Who am I if I’m not comparing and measuring myself against someone else or some ideal of myself and what I should be feeling or experiencing? In this very moment, who am I? How am I? What is present now?
Who are you if you don’t measure the time, past or future, if you don’t quantify and measure beauty, enlightenment, goodness or badness, if you simply stop that activity of mind and stay conscious to what is still here?
These questions are direct inquiries that immediately throw your mind out of the habit of measuring and into the oceanic natural state of your undefined, indivisible being, the truth of yourself.
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Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.