On and Off The Path, Over and Over!
“Krishan. It feels like being pulled off the path over and over and constantly struggling to get back and stay on again and again. Is this about what life is? Are there ways to walk the path differently? Most likely. What do you think? “
Dear, you are not alone. Many people experience this not just on the spiritual path but in every walk of life. That’s why there is much sadness, emotional pain, depression, and an increased rate of suicide, even among very successful people. One would think this shouldn’t happen in spirituality, but it does.
In the past few decades, the number of spiritual paths has grown exponentially globally. Thousands of different spiritual organizations have their own paths, philosophies, practices, and followers.
In every spiritual path, you will find primarily four categories of followers.
- Those who happily continue.
- Those who are unhappy. Most still continue, and some leave.
- Those who struggle on the path. They remain in uncertainty and keep going off and on the path.
- A small number, for various reasons, end up in disappointment, sadness, mistrust, uncertainty, etc.InIn
In forty years of my spirituality, I have experienced all of the above
Today’s post is primarily for people in the 3rd category.
Don’t give overly importance to whether you are on or off the path. You are neither nearer to God if you are on the path nor away from Him if you are off the path. God is where you are.
Define your spiritual goal on the path. Without it, the journey becomes confusing and even frustrating. Without a clear goal, you can never gauge your progress. Your goal must be realistic and achievable. Enlightenment, awakening, knowing the Truth, etc., are vague and unachievable goals; therefore, you may feel you are not reaching anywhere. The question you must ask yourself is why you are on the path, and even when struggling, why do you want to continue? Identify what pulls you off the path and what pulls you back on. Honest answers will be very helpful to you.
Doubts contribute a lot to your struggle. They carry a negative connotation, but not all doubts are necessarily wrong. Some may be intuitive. However, make your spiritual decisions based on your experiences. Don’t mix your experiences with doubts. Otherwise, they all will seem like doubts. Trust your experiences; they are there to guide you. How much importance you give them is up to you.
Your spiritual practices are important but don’t see them as means to your spiritual goal. Not doing your practices for a while doesn’t mean you are off the path. Don’t judge your spirituality by your practices.
I know many people who have never meditated in their lives, but they imbibe many qualities of a yogi, which Lord Krishna talks about in the Bhagavad Gita. They are very nice people with high human values. If you look around, you will find many such people in your lives too. Perhaps, being such a person could be one of your spiritual goals. You may already be such a person, but because of all that goes on in your mind, you don’t even realize it.
Make your spirituality simple, devoid of feverishness. Live your life with decent human values. It is the essence of all scriptures. Don’t set very high standards for yourself. Instead, grow with them as a musician grows with his music.
Don’t try to know the unknown. You will never know it; no one has. Instead, know yourself by listening more to your inner being, your personal Guide. As you listen more to your inner being, Your mind and spirituality will expand, and you will experience its vastness within you. How can you go on or off the path when you live in the vastness?
I am often asked for my reasons for leaving AOL. My spirituality, influenced by many free thinkers of the past, is free-flowing and spontaneous. And that’s why, despite receiving immense love from Guru Dev and my yoga students in AOL, I just couldn’t fit in the environment of structured spirituality, which is necessary for any organization to grow. I can’t fit in any organization. I remain ever grateful to Guru Dev and AOL for their endless and unconditional love.
If despite your frustrations, you decide to continue on the path, you must compromise and ignore all those things that frustrate you. Don’t keep questioning them. Things may or may not change, but you should move forward, accepting what frustrates you. When things start bothering you again, become more alert to stay on the path. if you do go off, get back on the path quickly. This repeated practice will help you in staying on the path.
Most importantly, don’t blame yourself for your doubts, conflicts, or anything else. Don’t let anyone put a guilty feeling in you. Know that you are a very nice and spiritual person. God loves you. You will always remain the love of God. Any moment you remember God is a spiritual moment.
An Interesting Story:
Several years ago, one of my friends and I would get together every Sunday at 5:00 AM to discuss Kabira and sing his songs. He lived half an hour away from my place. So I will wake up at 4:00 AM, get ready, and drive e to his place with my harmonium. He wanted to learn to play the harmonium. I wasn’t very good at it but was happy to share with him what I knew. He and his wife both were well-educated and belonged to very well-to-do families. But they both, inspired by the simplicity of Kabira lived a very basic life and did odd jobs to meet their needs. They lived like that for years.
Our Sunday meetings continued for 8-10 months. One day he surprised me when he said,” Krishan, I don’t think I am going to find God. Now I am going to try to find the money.” He was serious. They moved to a bigger city, and today he is a very successful and wealthy entrepreneur. He is doing exactly what he was meant to do.
In amazement of Life, I can only babble.
For proper instructions for you, listen to your inner being.