Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
We read last week how easy it is to fall down 'the stair' of behaviour and habits. This is such a risk to the spiritual traveller that the third and last shloka of this section reiterates;
tr'aiyta ApIme s'gaTsamuÔayiNt.45.
Tarangaayitaa apiime sangaat-saamudraayanti ||45||
Though appearing as a ripple (in the beginning),these (anger, lust etc) by evil-companionship can become an ocean.
There are many analogies which could be used. The little drip from the tap which fills a bucket overnight; the little spit of rain which becomes a deluge… the little taste of wine which becomes an addiction… this is the warning here.
It is very easy to brush aside concerns, because each little thing is just that; apparently little. Subtle are the invidious ways of negative character traits and behaviours. Put simply, such traits are also the easiest to perform. Performance of positive traits can require effort. The basic nature of mankind is to protect and that sometimes mean attack. Therefore we tend to fall to the lowest common denominator, forgetting to self-monitor and put in the effort to rise above ourselves.
All too easily, we can look back and find that we have tumbled from higher ideals and become immersed in our urges, some which may appear harmless enough on the surface, but which cause us to always stray from our mark. Our society currently pushes constantly through marketing and peer pressures to seek always the preyas, the path of comfort and ease and lustful behaviours, the path of squandering what we gain, of damaging our physical well-being as much as our emotional and spiritual selves. This can all happen even in 'good' company; how much more so if we fall in with the 'wrong crowd'? Gurudev said, "if you re offered a glass of milk to drink and know that there is poison contained in it, will you knowingly drink it? No, of course not! However, milk looks innocent, and the person who is offering it is smiling, so we drink anyway. We pay the price of not checking the situation properly." Spirituality takes effort. It requires that we are constantly alert to our own instincts and behaviour patterns. To say that 'I was good before but I fell in with wrong company' is actually a weak explanation, for the self-responsible sadhaka knows full well that others cannot in fact be blamed for our own behaviour. We alone are responsible for our thoughts, words and deeds. To ensure that we maintain a high standard, clearly the advice is to avoid as much as is possible being in places and situations which may present an opportunity for our fall. To strengthen our positive traits, actively seeking out equally positive places and situations is to be desired.
The athlete wishing to be top of their sport does not frequent night clubs or fast food restaurants; they will be found on the arena of their choice practicing the very thing they wish to be best at and that too, in the company of others of like desire.
The spiritual student, wishing to maximise that spiritual experience does not sit and daydream or seek 'out-of'body' experience by extreme methods; rather they will seek out the experienced teachers and fellow spiritual travellers with whom they can discuss their doubts and difficulties and find support and companionship as they seek to scale the spiritual heights.
What is involved in this then? This is explored in the following section.