Ob­sta­cle to spir­i­tual life

The Sunday Guardian - - & Comment Analysis - By Swami Shan­tat­mananda

Devo­tees would of­ten come to Sri Ra­makr­ishna un­able to find a way out of their ex­is­ten­tial prob­lems. They would of­ten ask Sri Ra­makr­ishna as to why they are un­able to progress in spir­i­tual life in spite of their spir­i­tual striv­ing or Sad­hana. Sri Ra­makr­ishna would an­swer them pa­tiently us­ing a beau­ti­ful anal­ogy. He would ask, how does one insert a thread in a nee­dle. One has to take a fine thread and en­sure that it is free from any ex­tra fiber, etc and then care­fully insert it into the hole in the nee­dle. Even if a sin­gle fiber is stick­ing out, it is not pos­si­ble to insert the thread into the nee­dle. Thus, Sri Ra­makr­ishna would say that hu­man be­ings lead a life com­pletely dom­i­nated by the senses. Their minds are full of de­sires largely based on lust and lu­cre.

At the same time, some peo­ple who have spir­i­tual in­cli­na­tions also try to per­form Sad­hana or spir­i­tual dis­ci­plines. But, be­cause of the fibers of de­sire that are stick­ing out, it is not pos­si­ble for such peo­ple to en­ter the king­dom of God. It is sim­i­lar to row a boat which is com­pletely an­chored. How­ever much one may row, the boat will not move even an inch.

Sim­i­larly, the mind an­chored to the world by the de­sire for en­joy­ments can­not progress in spir­i­tual life. It is not pos­si­ble for a mind full of de­sires to think of God or evolve spir­i­tu­ally.

But, through con­stant striv­ing and also by dis­ci­plines such as Viveka, Vichara and Vairagya i.e. dis­crim­i­na­tion, en­quiry and dis­pas­sion it is pos­si­ble to slowly re­move the en­crus­ta­tions of de­sires on our minds.

Of course, again and again one may slip or slide down, but one should not give up. By re­lent­less and stead­fast prac­tice with a fo­cused mind, over a long pe­riod of time it is pos­si­ble to make a slow and steady, but sure God­ward progress.

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