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Self-realization - the Long and the Short of It

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The other night, I dreamt of a house. I was shepherding students outside into a vast, rolling landscape of shimmering color.

How beautiful! How infinitely nuanced! How luminous! Please, please come.

Some step directly from the confines of the familiar house into the outdoors. Others are afraid and hang back. I want to wait for everyone.

When students meet the teachings in a real way, a vast, subtle landscape opens out. Longing to explore that arises.

Oh yes. That is what I have always wanted.

There is recognition. A feeling of discovering one’s true, unconfined home. This is a gap in karma, a gap in time.

But then, fear rushes back in. Each person’s fear of waking up takes a familiar karmic form.

What if I change too much and lose friends?
What if my spiritual practice interferes with my career?
What if my family freaks out?
I don’t want to lose anything; I only want to add things.
I don’t like to be in a group.
I don’t like to feel uncomfortable; I only want to feel happy.
I don’t like being asked to pay for teachings.
I don’t need a teacher.
Teacher is not behaving as I want.
I wanted spiritual practice to be X and the teacher is asking me to do Y.
I’m confused.
I’m not capable.
This isn’t the right time.
I’m too busy.
I don’t want to travel for teachings.
I’m angry.
I just want to know how to fix my problems.
I have to understand everything thoroughly before I get started.
The culture of these teachings is strange to me.
I need the teacher, or my practice, to be miraculous. Nothing else will convince me to continue.
I can’t sit still.
I think too much.
I’m tired.
I don’t want to practice.
I don’t want to practice.
I don’t want to practice.

My teacher, Anandamayi Ma, had infinite patience. At the same time, she did everything possible to help people to recognize their real natures. She both waited for students to be able to practice, and, at the same time, tried to give them everything they needed to make that happen quickly.

If you want to release your resistance and Self-realize a little more quickly, you must put yourself in situations that remind you of who you are, of your true home. You must make an effort to overcome the karmic momentum that takes the form of stories about why you can’t, don’t want to, or shouldn’t do this.

Read the works of teachers you admire and biographies and autobiographies of practitioners. Attend teachings whenever possible. If you have a teacher, seize every opportunity to receive teachings from that person. If you have been given a practice, do it with consistency and constancy as if your life depends on it – because it does.

Try to remember that, although most of us will lead an ordinary life with ordinary responsibilities, the purpose of this entire manifestation is Self-realization.

Anything that you claim is standing in your way, no matter how reasonable-sounding, is only karmic vision. There is no reasonable reason not to step out of your limitations, other than the workings of limitation itself.

Time and karma are intimately related. Ma knew that everything has its time, and that it is also possible to step out of linear time.

So, on the one hand, it is perfectly fine that students take a long time to dedicate themselves consciously to Self-realization, that they are continually coming and going. Every reason students give not to practice, every little bit of resistance is just the life process itself unfolding in time.

This is what Ma called “the long way.” We live through every bit of karma until it ends.

If we try to directly realize our true nature, this is what Ma called “the short way.”  We recognize the transmission of Self-realization coming through our teachers, and we work directly to embody that in every moment. Karma falls away like unripened fruit from the vine.

The fact that teachers are so compassionate as to help people of many different capacities and stages is also the life process and nothing but that wonder.

In Ma’s love,


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