Steadfastness in spiritual path | Swami Paramananda
STAND firm like a rock in your own faith. Be always watchful, cheerful and faithful to your Ideal. Be brave and true and unselfish. Never fear and never look back, but move on. There is no greater lesson than to learn to remain steady and strong under all conditions. Do not seek for human help, but look only to the grace of the Lord. He will protect you. Pray to Him and depend on Him alone. Human help is so uncertain. Human friends are selfish and they betray; but He is the Divine Friend, who loves for the sake of love. Swami Vivekananda says in one of his letters:
“He the Lord knows best. Let ignorant men talk nonsense. We neither seek aid nor avoid it. We are the servants of the Most High. The petty attempts of small men should be beneath our notice. Onward! Upon ages of struggle a character is built. Be not discouraged. One word of truth can never be lost; for ages it may be hidden under rubbish, but it will show itself sooner or later. Truth is indestructible, virtue is indestructible, purity is indestructible. Give me a genuine man; I do not want masses of converts. My son, hold fast! Do not care for anybody to help you. Is not the Lord infinitely greater than all human help? Be holy, trust in the Lord, depend on Him always, and you are on the right track; nothing can prevail against you.”
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Misery and difficulties come at times to strengthen our character. They are like examinations. We must prepare and pass them. Know that they are very good for the formation of character. The more we meet with difficulties, the more we remember our Mother for protection; and that was the reason why one of the greatest devotees, the mother of the five Pandavas, prayed to the blessed Lord to give her always misery and sorrow so that she might never forget Him. Generally we forget the Lord when we find everything easy and enjoyable. So it is a blessing when this teacher, in the form of misery, comes and reminds us of our duties.
One must be bold enough to face everything in order to serve the Ideal. Remember what Swami Vivekananda says in “My Master”: “Are you really sure that you can stand to your ideals and work on even if the whole world wants to crush you down?” That kind of courage and self-sacrificing spirit is necessary. Truth can never be realized by weak-minded people. Our task in life must be done boldly. Fear none. Divinity and purity are your birth-right. Have faith and struggle on.
Why should anyone fear who is unselfish? Selfishness is the cause of all misery and fear. There is no sin for him who is unselfish. Know this and be free from all fear and care. Fearlessness is what religion teaches, and one can become fearless only through purity of thoughts and deeds. Past is dead and gone, but present is alive. So do everything with unselfishness in the present moments.
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The path of Karma is so hard and so crooked, even wise men are often deluded. Depression sometimes comes, but we must try to remain quiet and steady. God’s ways are mysterious. We must struggle as long as we live. No matter if we fail thousands of times; we must still get up with fresh vigour and courage. Life is a struggle; one must be bold enough to stand everything. Let us try to follow the teaching of the Master. Strength, Strength! No weeping in a corner. Stand up, shake off all weakness. The soul is immortal; there is no sin for the soul. Whom to fear? Move on with strength. Fear not, but move on. You are free, you are immortal. Let no one call you weak, wicked, a sinner. You are not. You are pure, you are perfect.
This is a very good song:
O mind! Where can be the fear when I have taken shelter at His feet?
He is Almighty and His grace is infinite.
What can enemies do by insulting and torturing?
At the most I may die, but I will die singing His victory.
I have heard the words of great hope that even if I die,
I shall always live with Him in eternal happiness. This is His promise.
In the lonely cottage of my heart I will place Him (my Ideal),
who is the Lord of my heart and soul,
and will spend this life with Him in happiness and Divine bliss.
So no fear after taking shelter at His feet, but happiness and bliss. That one indeed is fortunate, very, very fortunate who has devotion. The Lord says, “I can give salvation very easily, but I do not give Bhakti (devotion).
By giving Bhakti I become bound to my devotee.” It is extremely hard to get true devotion. He who has it and can work on steadily and quietly, without caring for praise or blame, is blessed.
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In every man’s life there come moments of weariness and struggle, when everything appears gloomy and hard. But know that no true character was ever formed without passing through these stages. So we must be brave and patient. This world is no lovely flower garden, as some foolish people regard it. It is full of thorns, and we must be very, very careful as we walk in it. To be watchful is not only good, but absolutely necessary for spiritual progress. You know that thieves cannot enter your room when you are wide awake.
So try to remain always watchful and awake; then you will never lose your precious treasure. Above all have steadfast faith in yourself and in your Ideal.
Shake off all weakness and come out into the broad sunshine of truth; everything will look different then. Remember this, that we must not take up the true path for anybody’s sake or give it up for anybody’s sake, but must follow it for the sake of itself; and must stick to it as long as we live. Pray to the Lord to give us strength and light, so that we may always serve Him by following the right path. Never mind if we die in the path; but never, never shall we give it up through weakness.
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Know that there are ups and downs in both mind and body. We must not get depressed in any way because of that, but must remain firm and steady. You remember the parable of Śrī Ramakrishna on the two peasants, one a farmer by birth, the other a weaver by birth. The weaver, not getting much profit in his own profession, takes up farming in the hope of gaining more; but if it does not rain for one or two years, he grows discouraged and goes back to his own trade; while the farmer by birth, knowing no other profession, will go to the field with plough in hand even if it does not rain for twelve years.
Similarly there are two classes of devotees. One is born with that Divine love and knows nothing else; while the other is simply trying to gain it. The first does not give up his devotion to the Lord even if he meets with hundreds of difficulties and by his life-long struggle fails to realize Him; while the second wavers in his devotion and turns again to the world when he meets with the slightest obstacle in the path. The first one’s love is pure love,—love for love’s sake; while the other one worships the Lord for selfish ends, and when his desires are not fulfilled he falls back from the path of devotion.
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A steady mind is absolutely necessary. Without that no progress is possible. Always try to depend as little as you can on the external side of life; then you will gain more and more internal strength. Never mind praise or blame, never mind what others say or do; move on, walk on steadily, being unmoved by either praise or blame.
Remember always what the Blessed Lord says in the Gītā: “Udharet At- manatmanam, natmanam abhasadaet” (In order to make yourself free, no depression should be allowed).
Never under any circumstances should you yield to weakness or depression. Be watchful and steady and a true hero. Stand up and say boldly, “I am strong, I am pure, I am holy.” All the weaknesses will at once drop off, all limitations will vanish and you will become blissful, peaceful and happy.
Do not expect anything from outside. Turn your whole thought within; see Him within. Place your Ideal on the altar of your heart and worship Him day and night. That is the greatest thing one can do in this life.
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There is no real happiness in earthly things. How can there be when nothing is permanent in this world? Pleasure is transitory, and so is pain; they come and go, and cannot last long, so endure them, knowing that it is only for a few days. He is a true hero who remains undisturbed in both pleasure and pain. Have patience; patience will conquer everything in long run. We must stand like brave soldiers, firm in faith. Body does not last long but spirit will remain, character will remain. So pay all your attention to building up the character.
You are pure and free; weakness does not befit you. Have faith in yourself. Have such faith that you can command every atom of your being. No doubting person can reach the goal. “He who does not believe in himself is an atheist,” says Swami Vivekananda. Know that you cannot have faith in the Lord unless you have faith in yourself first.
What the Master wants us to do we may not understand. But we know that we are His children and we may be sure that He will guide us and protect us. That is all we need. Let the whole world stand against us; we should not care. We must be brave soldiers, faithful, true soldiers. The path of Karma is very crooked; but no great work was ever performed without the supreme sacrifice.
Arise, awake, and turn away from this outside world. Go deeper and deeper within yourself. There you will find real peace and rest. Know that peace can be had only within your own self and nowhere else. No place can give us peace unless we are ourselves peaceful. So try to gain that peace within yourself, then you shall become free and no outward disturbance will ever break your calmness. Fear not. Believe in yourself. Move onward! Die like a hero fighting for the truth. That will bring peace to your soul.