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!
Chapter Six, Section Two - Obstacles to Practice.
Continuing with the warnings of what can hobble progress in spiritual work, the Guru declares;
ôIxnnaiStkvEircirÇ< n ïv[Iym!.63.
Strii-dhana-naastika-vairi-charitram na shravaniiyam ||63||
The descriptions (examples) of women, wealth, non-believers or enemies ought not to be listened to.
A warning found in many a society! Whether or not one is on a spiritual path, this is a commonsense warning useful to heed for living an uncomplicated life.
For the saadhaka, though, it is of the utmost importance, for these are the key things which can trip up the traveller. The danger lurking within us is that, despite all our efforts to turn the mind inwards and upwards towards the Higher, it can again run out from the peace and sink into the lower depths of sensuality. The worldly life in which we must move is a vortex which is strong and it does not take much to be sucked back into its mesmerising mischief, multifarious distractions and plethora of inconsequential happenings. The key areas for these distractions are given here.
The examples are well-known simply because they have been proven time and again to be the kind of thing which can undo a man. Women however ought not to think themselves immune! The 'women' mentioned could equally read 'men' - the point being that lustfulness, depravities, and even the simple illusion of 'love', can turn the mind away from the Higher with no effort at all. If one is not tempted by the heart and body, it is quite possible that one lusts for wealth and comfort. Acquisition is a potent motivator and unless one is alert, can lure one along ever lower paths. Holding physical items, after all, is so much more gratifying in the instant than the long game of seeking salvation. Then there are those who have not the same beliefs, or even have any belief, in that Higher Essence; intellectual debate is a healthy thing but all too often it can become conceited, angry, defensive… we can lose ourselves in doubt or over-confidence as we try to reconcile others' thoughts and opinions with our own. Until we are certain of our ground and secure in our practice, even a small debate on the matter of spirit is best avoided. Then we are told to not listen about our 'enemies'. In modern living, this term is almost entirely reserved for the state of war, but actually, in social context, we may well have more enemies than we realise. These are the gossip-mongers, the cheats, the jealous and selfish ones who would seek to cause unrest and have us at the centre of it. It would not be too difficult to recall a recent event in our lives where we felt insulted or undercut, would it? The persons who inflicted that angst are, for that time, our enemies. If we are strong and settled in our practice, what others say or do to us will become as pinpricks and they themselves will become unseated because they are not getting the result they want.
Letting all these things glide past us, acknowledging their presence but ignoring their effect, is a part of saadhana. In jnaan, this is referred to in the saadhana chatushtaya. In bhakta, the advice is to always place Love where lust, longing, doubt or hatred seek to linger. Re-tune the mind as you would a radio till you get the more pure thinking flow which advances the purpose. Use mantras to quieten the gurgling thoughts and impressions, call always on the Higher to defeat the lower.