The spiritual path & Sadhana
The spiritual path may, in the beginning, appear to be very hard, thorny, precipitous and slippery. Renunciation of objects gives pain at the outset. If you struggle hard to tread the path, if you once make a strong determination and firm resolve, then it becomes very easy. You get interest and new joy. Your heart expands. You have a broad outlook of life. You have a new, wide vision. You feel the help from the invisible hands of the Indweller of your heart. Your doubts are cleared by themselves by getting answers from within. You can hear the shrill, sweet voice of God. There is an indescribable thrill of divine ecstasy from within. There is deep, abiding, everlasting joy and unruffled peace. There is ineffable, unabating, undiminishing, undecaying spiritual bliss. This gives new strength. The footing in the path becomes firmer and firmer. The Jivanmuktas, Yogins, Nitya- siddhas, Amara -purushas, and Chiranjivis lend their helping hands to the struggling aspirants. The aspirants feel this actually. The feeling of loneliness and of being neglected and forsaken vanishes entirely.
You are backed up at all times by a mighty power that works everywhere in the cosmos. Therefore you have nothing to fear. Take care of the details in Sadhana. The major factor will take care of itself.
Some aspirants leave Sadhana after some time. They expect great fruits quickly. They expect many Siddhis within a short time. When they do not get some, they give up the Sadhana. There are several ranges of consciousness between the ordinary human consciousness and the supra-consciousness of Brahman. Different veils have to be torn down on the way; many lower centres have to be opened up; many hurdles have to be crossed before the final goal is reached.
SPIRITUAL PROGRESS IS LIKE A SPIRAL
You have to plod on and scale many hills. You cannot climb the Everest in one jump. There is no jumping on the spiritual path.
Self-realization is not like a six-year post-graduate course. It is the result of intense protracted Sadhana.
There is no short-cut in the spiritual path. There is no royal road to the kingdom of immortal bliss. There is no half-measure in the divine path. Strict, hard discipline is wanted. Then alone you can conquer Maya. Only then can you control the mind.
Saints and Yogins will never think that they have controlled the mind. Only the deluded Sadhaka will imagine he has controlled the mind and get a terrible downfall. It is the very nature of life, mind, and Prakriti to be constantly in motion. When there is the idea in the mind that the highest goal is yet to be achieved, you will always move towards it. If you imagine that you have got to the top, you will anyhow have to move, and that movement will be downward. You will have a downfall. Aspire for higher realization till the breath ceases in the nostril.
Spiritual progress is slow, as the spiritual Sadhana is difficult and laborious. It is like the spiral. In the beginning, great striving is needed. Gradually, the circle becomes smaller and smaller. So also, the striving becomes less and less. The aspirant gains spiritual strength slowly. He marches faster and faster. Finally, he does not go by furlongs after furlongs. He proceeds by mile after mile. He gallops and gallops. Therefore, be patient; be persevering; be steady.
SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
The gradual inward progress is mostly silent and unseen, like the quiet unfolding of a bud into a flower in the hours of the night. Therefore, do not be dejected. Do not depress yourself with the idea that you are not progressing. Real spiritual progress is really and accurately measured by the peacefulness, serenity, and calmness that you manifest in waking state. You will have a healthy body and mind, the excretions will be scanty, the voice will be sweet, the face will be brilliant, the eyes will be lustrous. You will be ever calm, tranquil, and poised; you will be ever cheerful, fearless, and contented. You will be dispassionate and discriminative. There will be no attraction for the world. Things that used to upset you before will not upset you now. You will have an unruffled mind. You will have introversion. Things that used to give you pleasure produce disgust or a reverse effect now. You will have a one-pointed, sharp, subtle mind. You will be longing to have more meditation. You will experience lights, visions, divine smell, divine taste. The idea that all forms are forms of the Lord will get stronger and stronger in you. You will feel everywhere the presence of God. You will experience the nearness of God. You will have a very steady Asana. You will develop a burning desire for selfless service.
Watch whether you are stationary in the spiritual path, retrogressing, or advancing. If your Japa, meditation or Vedantic Vichara thickens your veil and fattens your egoism, it is not then a spiritual Sadhana. Remember this point well. It is only a kind of occult practice.
Watch, introspect. Practice self-analysis and kill ruthlessly this formidable egoism. This is important Sadhana. Egoism will lurk like a thief and assume various forms like a chameleon or a Bahurupi (a dramatic actor).
Do not stop the Sadhana when you get a few glimpses of realization. Continue practice till you are fully established in Bhuma, the unconditioned Brahman. This is important. If you stop practice and move about in the world, there is every likelihood of a downfall. The reaction will be tremendous. Examples are not lacking. Numerous persons have been so ruined. A glimpse cannot give you perfect safety. Do not be carried away by name and fame. You can renounce your wife, children, parents, house, friends, and relatives. It is very, very difficult to renounce the intellectual pleasure, the pleasure from name and fame. I seriously warn you. A man who can draw happiness from the Atman within, will never care a jot for this trivial, paltry affair. The world is a mighty big thing for a worldly man. It is a straw for the Knower of Brahman. It is a mustard, a pin's point, a dot, a bubble, an airy nothing for a Brahma-jnani (Knower of Brahman). Be circumspective. Ignore all these trivial things. Be steady with your practice. Never stop the practice till the final beatitude is reached. Never cease Sadhana till you can constantly dwell in full Brahmic consciousness.
Do not let failures discourage you, but go on doing your best.
Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures, as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression.
Do not repeat them in future.
Be cautious. Just think of the causes which led to your failures and try to remove them in future.
Strengthen yourself with new vigour and virtues.
Develop slowly your will-power.
Every temptation that is resisted, every evil thought that is curbed, every desire that is subdued, every bitter word that is withheld, every noble aspiration that is encouraged, every sublime thought that is cultivated, adds to the development of will-force, good character, and attainment of eternal bliss and immortality.
Every bit of Sadhana done is surely recorded without fail in your hidden consciousness. No Sadhana ever goes in vain. Every bit of it is credited immediately towards your evolution. This is the law. Think not negative thoughts, but calmly go on with the Sadhana. Be regular at it. Without missing a single day, proceed onward with your spiritual practices.
Little by little, the power accumulates and it will grow. Ultimately, the cumulative force of all the continuous earnest Sadhana done perseveringly and patiently over a long period of life has its inevitable grand consummation at the supreme moment when it bears fruit in the form of blissful Realization.
Let the Sadhana be regular, continuous, unbroken, and earnest. Not only regularity, but also continuity in Sadhana and meditation is necessary if you want to attain Self-realization quickly.
A spiritual stream once set going does not dry up, unless the channel-bed is locked, unless there is stagnation.
Be vigilant eternally. Meditate regularly. Annihilate the under-current of Vasanas.
OBSTACLES TO SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
Sometimes the aspirant gets stuck up. He cannot proceed further in his path. Sometimes he is side-tracked through Siddhis. He loses his way and walks in some other direction. He misses the goal. Sometimes he is assailed by temptations and various oppositions. Sometimes he gets false contentment. He thinks he has reached his goal and stops all Sadhana. Sometimes he is careless, lazy, indolent. He cannot do any Sadhana. Therefore, be eternally vigilant, like the captain of a ship, like the surgeon in the operation theatre.
The spiritual path is full of hurdles. If you conquer one obstacle, another obstacle is ready to manifest. If you control the sense of taste, another Indriya is simply waiting to assault you with redoubled force and vigour. If you remove greed, anger is waiting to hurl you down. If you drive egoism through one door, it enters through another door. Great patience, perseverance, vigilance, and undaunted strength are needed.
Be frim, steady, and steadfast. People will mock at you; be silent. People will insult you; be silent. People will spread evil rumours about you; be silent. Stick to the spiritual path. Do not swerve. Seek the truth wherever it may lead you to, and whatever be the cost and sacrifice.