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Sadhana - Just Do It!

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

A spiritual practitioner and a postal delivery person have a lot in common.

Here in the U.S., the postal motto is that the mail is delivered “come rain, come sleet, come wind, come hail.”

No matter what the conditions, the mail always arrives.

Just so, the practitioner, if she desires to have the fruit of her practice, should maintain her daily practice no matter what.

The first thing that distracts a practitioner, causing her not to keep to a daily routine, is her own expectations. If you expect to always experience good feelings when you practice, if you do not understand the nature of resistance, you are likely to be distracted when resistance arises.

I introduced a new practice to my students a few weeks ago, and they have been enjoying it. One said enthusiastically: I feel so energized. Everyone in my family got sick, but not me! The other told me: When I am tense, it helps me to become more open.

Uh oh, I thought to myself. Danger ahead.

Regular sadhana will give you back your shakti and cause you to relax, discovering your true nature. But this is the big View. Day-by-day, anything can and will be experienced, including feeling more connected and relaxed, but also feeling bored, frustrated, angry, sad, scared, and distracted by thoughts and even illness. If you want to realize, you must practice through all of this.

Even when you are ill, it is possible to spend some time every day connecting to essence. You may change the nature of your practice at such times so as not to aggravate illness, but you don’t need to stop trying to relax and rest in your true nature.

Expectations = attachments. Attachment to feeling good will ultimately stop you from practicing at all. I suggest that anyone wanting to get a detailed view into the real day-to-day life of a committed practitioner read Death Must Die, the diary of Atmananda, a life-long Anandamayi Ma devotee.

The second circumstance that distracts a practitioner is reactivity and attachment related to the external environment. Beginning practitioners must generally create a place to practice that is relatively quiet. It is not reasonable to expect yourself to be able to concentrate and relax in the midst of outside or household chaos.The second Buddha, Padmasambhava, told students who were disturbed by the environment, Run for the hills! Protect your practice!

Once a beginning student asked me for advice. I live right beside a freeway, she told me. How can I practice when the constant noise of traffic disturbs me? She was shocked when I suggested that she move.

Another student was standing nearby, listening intently. He was also shocked, but for different reasons. He thought that a “real” practitioner should be able to “rise above” any circumstance. This is just another fixation. If we can relax in the midst of noise, then that is our condition. If we cannot, then we must be actually real and do what we need to to do protect our practice.

If we want to realize, we must insist on doing our practice. It’s that simple. If this means changes in our household configuration or routine, then we should try to arrange that. If others around us are not supportive of our efforts, then we should not allow ourselves to be dependent on them. We should make other arrangements and protect our practice.

The path is to cultivate the external circumstances and supports we need to keep a daily practice and practice with the resistance and other obstacles that arise internally.

Human life is for Self-realization. Once we have realized this much, we should seize the opportunity and not let anything stand in our way. Within the context of U.S. culture, this may sound a little crazy and harsh. However, in many other cultures, arrangements are normally made for doing daily practice. For instance, in India, most houses and even apartments have a puja room–a room set aside just for spiritual observances.

We do have to be creative here and find our way through the thicket of ambition and relationship-obsessed culture. But just because it might be a little more difficult, does not mean we should give up. So we are back to the first obstruction: attachment to feeling good and things being easy.

Every circumstance that you find yourself in can be worked with if you determine to do that. This is the proper orientation for a practitioner: come rain, come sleet, come wind, come hail . . . and sun! They are all equally God.

In Ma’s love,
Shambhavi

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