'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…
As another week draws to a close, and that too in a fresh month in which the Olympics are once again with us, one's thoughts are drawn to the challenges of a spiritual life. We can read and read and read, then read still more, but it is the putting into action of the tools and tips that are garnered which is the first challenge. Living the Life Divine could be likened to taking up a sport. It first requires that we wish to play; it secondly requires that we are prepared to undertake the stamina-building exercises in a disciplined and regular manner; and it thirdly requires that we don't cheat, because a medal won from cheating will never satisfy us and will certainly not yield the genuine and desired High Prize.
Any sports person will admit that there are days when it all seems too hard, their body will not comply, their mind is scattered and unfocused, their self-belief gets lost.. There are many hurdles and pains on the way to the top of their particular modality.
Likewise for the spiritual 'sportster'. Simply setting up a daily 'quiet' time can be a challenge for some. For those who succeed and get ever more deeply into meditation, or carry out saadhana through a charitable action on a regular basis, there is still the challenge of 'getting over themselves'. The ego just insists on being there and claiming stuff for itself. As we progress in our purification of being, by releasing attachments and setting in place a more vedantic view of the world, we are faced with our inner demons. Okay, they may not necessarily warrant the term 'demon' as such, however, anything which delays us on the journey towards the Higher is certainly an imp!
Whilst much of our early, and even the intermediate stages, of saadhana is about recognising how we view the world and how we operate within it, even as we become more adept at self-monitoring and self-correcting, it seems there is always another inner hurdle being thrown up at us. If we don't see it or attempt to ignore it, karma finds a way of rubbing our noses in it… events in life may take an unexpected and unwanted turn. It can seem like we are walking through a field of treacle to get our work done. We can find ourselves in the middle of fights we didn't start. We become more sensitive and instead of withdrawing from the joys and sorrows, they seem to increase. It's all a ploy of Maya! Be ever alert to this. We are forced, if we are serious about our 'sport', to get completely clean and build muscle slowly and stamina thoroughly and not be so keen to reach the finish line that we are prepared to cut corners.
It is an interesting thing to note that all great Masters of spiritual philosophy - including Yeshu, Sri Rama, any saint you care to name - are recorded as having faced their own 'heart of darkness', be it called as the temptation of the satan, the lure of Maya, or simply the acknowledgement of lusts. All the great Masters also benefitted from sticking to the plan, surrendering the ego, and never losing sight of the prize.
Many youngsters have heroes and role models among sports stars. Find your hero and role model among the Masters and vow to follow their example and pray to them to keep your 'training' focus and not to quiver as you traverse your own dark times. Trust their teachings to draw you through to the dawn.