Perseverance on the Spiritual Path

Kriya Yoga Living: Perseverance on the Spiritual Path

Perseverance, steadfast dedication, and commitment to the goal are hallmarks of success. With firm determination and joyous anticipation, keep moving toward mastery. Do not look back.

 

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MESSAGE FROM YOGACHARYA

Keep on Keeping on, Behold One Day, the Goal!

By Kriya Yoga, one’s consciousness functions on a higher plane; devotion to the Infinite Spirit then arises spontaneously in one’s heart. –Paramahansa Yogananda

Innate divine qualities help us reach the highest spiritual goal and live well along the way.

Banat banat ban jai! was a favorite saying of the yoga master Lahiri Mahasaya. It means “making, making, one day made.” Essentially, it means “striving, striving, then one day behold the divine goal.”  It was his frequent advice to encourage students to persevere with their meditation until reaching samadhi or superconsciousness.

He said, “In every breath commune with the soul. Practice makes a person perfect. Try and try; perfection will come.”[1]

This is a message for spiritual seekers of all times: Don’t stop short of the goal of spiritual realization; don’t give up on yourself. Persevere. Be steady. Be steadfast. Stay anchored in soul awareness. Keep returning attention to That.

Kriya yoga requires steadiness. The purpose of Kriya Yoga is to reduce or eliminate physical, mental, or emotional interference with soul awareness, so we are guided by higher wisdom. Steadiness in meditation and ordering of our life priorities supports that. Intermittent meditation practice and an irregular lifestyle disturb the mind and upset our balance. When we are balanced, steady, and calm, we are better equipped to meet life’s ongoing challenges.

How can we be steadfast and stable when life is so unstable?

The spiritual key is to remember that there is nothing steadier, or more stable, than the soul! Our essential Self is unmoving, unchanging, supremely free from distraction, and infinitely resourceful. Remember the words of Lahiri Mahasaya: In every breath, commune with the soul. Draw strength from the experience of inner stability.

The promises of the spiritual path are great, and so are life’s perils, constant disturbances, and distractions. Being steadfast on our spiritual path—having a constant spiritual focus (not intermittent), consistent meditation practice, and regular healthy living strategies—takes commitment, courage, and time to establish.

Here, in yoga practice, there are many obstacles,
Frightful and difficult to ward off.
Nevertheless, the yogi should practice,
Even if he is at his last breath.   –Sivasamhita 3.53

Discovering the path of Self- and God-realization is a great homecoming. Like the prodigal who was lost in the land of sorrows, we return to the joyous country of the soul. A dharmic life awaits us. We live with a higher purpose as we learn to cooperate with the Infinite. There is usually a significant surge of hope and energy at this stage. We come alive. We set up a practice. We sit. We study. We contemplate surrender. We learn that Kriya Yoga is an accelerated path, and perhaps imagine that enlightenment is not far off.

Progress can be notable at this stage and encouraging. As the Bhagavad Gita notes in chapter 2, verse 40: Even a little practice removes great fear. Or, even a little of this discipline protects one from great danger.

Then things arise that interfere with our plan for rapid enlightenment. We encounter karma—the accumulated effects of our physical, mental, or verbal actions—as well as the impact of ever-changing influences of nature. We can wake up reasonably quickly, realize what we are as spiritual beings, and begin to discern how to live with a higher purpose. That’s not the end of it, though; it’s the beginning. At this stage, we are no longer completely deluded, but we’re not yet liberated. Now it’s time to work out our karma. This is the time to persevere.

Karma is the potency of past action to bring forth future joy or sorrow, depending on its nature. Karma is stored as impressions in the mental field. It is the answer to the questions: What’s taking so long? Why do we do what we don’t want to do, and why don’t we do what we intend to do?

We persevere with our meditation and other spiritual practices to purify the mental field of those karmic impressions and to learn how to avoid causing suffering for ourselves or others now or in the future.  Sage Patanjali noted in Yoga Sutra 2.16 Future suffering is to be avoided. This sutra is hopeful. We all want to avoid suffering. What this sutra is pointing out is that it is possible once we have more insight and understanding.

This next stage on the path can be difficult. When we become more discerning, we see how we have created problems for ourselves or others and contributed to sorrow.

When you know this juncture, you can understand why Lahiri Mahasaya would so often say—keep on, keeping on! Behold, one day the goal. Perseverance is necessary.

Many years ago, I listened to my Guru, Roy Eugene Davis, speak about enlightenment and the complete liberation of consciousness. As he spoke, I was silently wondering: Are you there yet? He paused for a moment, turned to me, and said: I still have karma to work out. I observed over the following years how steadfast he was, how dedicated, and increasingly radiant.

In 2019, just three days before his passing, he gave his last talk to our community. He spoke those words from Lahiri Mahasaya. This time, he said them in a way I had never heard before. He said, “doing, doing, done.” I believe he was.  It was an affirmation of liberation.

Here is a blessing of the spiritual path: all the way to liberation is liberation. All the way to yoga is yoga. As Saint Catherine of Siena said, “The path to heaven lies through heaven, and all the way to heaven is heaven.”

Kriya Yoga is both the way for reaching the goal of liberation (freedom from being unduly influenced by karma or the processes of nature), and it is the goal itself. It is both the way and the goal. We live intentionally and persevere with spiritual disciplines not only because we are living a higher purpose and working out our karma. We do it because it is enjoyable. It’s an enjoyable way to live.

If the way we persevere and live our spiritual life is not enjoyable, we have lost contact with the soul’s joy. We ultimately cannot persevere without joy.  Spiritual life is not a task or project; it is how we live. Why not live in joy?

“In every breath commune with the soul. Practice makes a person perfect. Try and try; perfection will come.”

Keep on keeping on, behold one day the goal!

 


[1] Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, Lahiri Mahasaya: Fountainhead of Kriya Yoga (Vienna: Prajna Publication,2009), 122.

 

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