Being at ease with your spirituality and imperfections.
“Krishan ji …I have been practicing and teaching yoga for several years, but at times, I feel stuck and frustrated for not being able to maintain discipline and implement knowledge in my life. Please advise.”
Most yoga seekers face this frustration and either give up the journey or continue it but remain stuck in frustrations. Some of the reasons for frustrations are; Unrealistic expectations, wrong understanding of knowledge, and inability to be at ease with the shortcomings and imperfections.
I have been singing and playing flute and harmonium for over 40 years. I should be a pretty good musician by now, but I am not. On the contrary, I am still at the rudimentary level.
About 40 years ago, my favorite flutist, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, came to Halifax to perform. I was lucky to be able to meet him alone. I had taken my flute with me and requested him for a few tips. He asked me to play something. I played a short song. He told me a couple of things, and then, to my surprise, he took out his flute and played the same piece. It sounded a million times better. Foolishly, I asked him how long it would take for me to play like that? He replied, ‘keep practicing’.
I do not lack interest, sincerity, and effort, but still, my progress has been very slow. There are two reasons for it. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn music properly, and the primary hindrance for me has been my inability to understand and grasp music. Even after listening to a simple tune hundreds of times, I can’t capture and remember it correctly. My three-year-old granddaughter can remember and sing a song so naturally. She already has hundreds of songs in her head. She has music in her. I love music, but I don’t have it in me. I am almost tone-deaf. As a result, despite many years of sincere effort, my music remains rudimentary and filled with imperfections.
But does it frustrate or discourage me, or do I feel stuck? Not at all. On the contrary, my passion for music keeps growing. Playing music is a joy and fun for me. While I continue to make an effort to improve, I don’t have a desire to be a great musician. I am at ease with my limitations to learning music and imperfections in my music.
This inability to grasp, understand and sustain is one of the major obstacles that most spiritual seekers face. In modern-day spirituality, there seems to be a feverishness to learn and achieve quickly. People jump into the deeper waters of spirituality without learning to swim correctly in shallow waters. Within a very short time, they get exposed to multitudes of scriptures and practices, which leads to an incorrect understanding of spiritual knowledge and a struggled discipline.
To bring joy to your spirituality, you must do self-study to recognize your limitations and imperfections and be at ease with them while making an effort to improve them. The scriptures and stories of great sages are there for you to show a path that has no end. How far you will reach, you don’t know. But because you aim for the end, your inability to reach there frustrates you. Your high spiritual ambitions and expectations, combined with your worldly aspirations and responsibilities, can lead to confusion and frustrations.
So, be kind to yourself. Slow down. Recognize your shortcomings honestly, and be at ease with them while improving them Are you struggling with your meditations and keep craving for more profound experiences? Sing and dance more instead. Do you keep striving for more body flexibility? Know that it’s not a spiritual accomplishment. Be at ease with your body. Relax your discipline. Give Ashtavakra a break. Don’t keep wrestling to understand Him. Instead, celebrate Him in your heart.
My inability to understand and play music has been a blessing for me. It has shown me that joy lies even in imperfections. It has taught me to be at ease with my weaknesses. It has expanded my oneness as I am at ease with others’ shortcomings.
I don’t understand music, but I feel the music. I feel life’s beauty without wanting to understand life. Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia says that Lord Krishna plays through him when he plays the flute, I believe him. When I listen to his music, I feel Krishna. What a blessing!