As some of you may have noticed, I’ve not been posting lately. Things became so busy, writing for the weblog fell far down the list of things to do and once one stops, it’s hard to start up again. That said, I’m going to try something different. Here in India, we are trying to improve our website (www.anandaindia.org) and I have begun to write short, inspirational pieces for it. My thought is to also post those here and when inspired to do so, add a few comments that won’t appear on the Ananda India site. Below is my first effort.
The following piece was inspired by my observation that people often come onto the spiritual path with great enthusiasm but have a difficult time keeping their inspiration high enough to counteract the continual pull of the world. In time, inspiration fades and people are drawn to other pursuits in their quest to find happiness or fulfillment. I see this everywhere and certainly not least in India. Good intentions are plentiful but follow-through is often lacking.
It's not unique to India but it is common here for students to mistake intellectual knowledge of a subject for actual understanding of it and of the need to put our idealism into practice, day after day. To hear a good discourse, read an inspiring book, visit a temple or even to have darshan with a saint is not enough. As Yoganandaji said to an Indian disciple who complained about his lack of progress, "God's blessings are there. My blessings are there. It is your blessings that are lacking."
This tendency toward casual effort is counterbalanced here by the fact that most people actually do want God in their lives, a sentiment not so readily found in the West. The divine hunger seems stronger in India and for that, I'm grateful. The mountain is high but at least some are willing to climb.
It Takes Good Karma
Brother Norman, one of Swami Kriyananda’s fellow monks at SRF, was going through a difficult period and lamented to Paramhansa Yogananda, “I must not have very good karma, sir.” His guru replied strongly, “Remember, it takes very, Very, VERY good karma even to want to know God!”
To seek God, to find a true path or to have a God-realized guru is a rare blessing. Compared with these, whatever obstacles we face are trivial. If you love God and truly seek His blessing, be reassured you are blessed already. God guides and protects His devotees.
A corollary to the story about Norman is less remembered. Swamiji explained, when asked why some devotees left the ashram and their guru’s guidance, “Only a very few come into this life with enough good karma to keep them on the spiritual path for a lifetime.” Good karma from the past reawakens our desire for God but we mustn’t become complacent. If we allow it to expire or grow stale, other karma comes to pull us elsewhere.
It’s a mistake to imagine our longing for God will last without additional support. We may think, “My love for God is so strong. I’ll always feel this way.” Beware! Like a fire burning brightly, unless additional fuel is added, it slowly dwindles to embers to await a future lifetime to flare again.
For the spiritual seeker, it’s vital to keep one’s inspiration replenished. Remember and hang onto those blissful feelings and enthusiasm you experienced when you first came to the spiritual path in this life. Reawakened “sleeping soldiers of spiritual qualities from past lives” came to your aid to spur you forward. Once aroused through meditation and devotion, our “army” needs nourishment to carry us forward.
“Make hay while the sun shines,” is good advice for both farmers and devotees. I find those periods when I feel even a little spark of inspiration to be the best times to exert extra effort in my meditation. When I’ve allowed those moments to pass unattended, they seem to have come less often. Pay attention and when grace knocks at your door, invite it in before it passes and goes elsewhere. And what if you feel no grace or inspiration? Hold on to God like a sailor lashes himself to a mast during a storm. The sun will eventually come out again and when it does, be ready to set your sails of devotion. Pray as God’s child until you receive His answer.
Oh Father, I hold my heart in my folded hands. Teach me to saturate my prayers with Thy love. Give me the simple, sincere devotion toward Thee of a child. Teach me to realize Thee just behind the voice of my prayer. – Whispers from Eternity