“The Childlike Simplicity of Saints”
Utmost inner freedom and peace come by developing simplicity of heart and mind. The saintliest individuals I have ever met have all had childlike simplicity. They were unaffected, full of cheer and faith. The childlike are natural and at ease around others, and one automatically feels at home with them. They are free from the hidden mental and psychological fetters that bind most human beings. Above all, they are:
Full of faith in the divine
Free from resentment toward what life brings to them, and
Utterly trusting in God’s loving care
These three attributes are essential to anyone who would find divine happiness on the spiritual path. The trouble with many seekers of God is that if He does not do exactly what they expect Him to do, they lose faith in Him. We must rather trust more in His wisdom and place the burden of our lives upon His shoulders. If I had not strived to live by that principle, I would never have been able to carry on the responsibilities given me by Guruji. I do not presume that God will do things the way I want them done: nor do I ask Him to remove my difficulties. I have always believed that whatever experiences we pass through–no matter what they are–we can grow by facing them with right attitude and total trust in God.
To trust in God means that instead of resenting the situations life puts before us, or asking for God to spare us, we rather pray: “ Give me the wisdom and understanding and strength, O Lord, with which to cope with every obstacle in life.” When everything is running smoothly, in our lives, we may not necessarily be progressing. Those times are the lulls or resting periods, you might say: and we should be grateful for them. But it is when we are facing and overcoming obstacles that we grow in the fullest measure.
“Follow Unafraid Where He May Lead Us”
If we leave one arm hanging limply by our side, it may feel relaxed, but the muscles in that arm are not developing. They are strengthened only when we use them. So it is with our spiritual muscles. They develop when we are forced to exercise them. Our strength, wisdom, patience, faith, and love increase when they are exercised.
Just before I left home to enter Guruji’s ashram in 1931, I had a marvelous experience that made me think very deeply about these points. It was a dream, indicating that if I followed this monastic path, I would face tremendous obstacles and difficulties. My heart was set on entering the ashram, for I knew that this was the answer to my soul’s deep yearnings for God. But after waking up from the dream, I thought to myself, “Are you sure you want this kind of life? God is showing you that it will not be an easy life, but one of strict self-discipline and many obstacles. Are you ready for that?” In response, I asked myself, “but what are you seeking?” My soul answered “God, and God alone.” Then I told myself, “Throw all fear out of your mind: plunge in. Do not be halfhearted in your pursuit of the Divine.”
If we want to learn how to swim, we cannot just stand on the shore and put one foot in the water. We need to plunge in, relax, and start to swim. If we are not relaxed, then it is difficult to stay afloat; we do not swim very well. Similarly on the spiritual path, we have to take that step–a giant step to begin with-–of changing our way of life to make God our goal. Once we have done that, it is important to relax, to have faith in God, and follow unafraid where He may lead us. If you trust in God and maintain an attitude of willingness to change yourself, you will be able to take everything in your stride. God will help you all along the way to the divine Goal.
“‘Persecutions’ on the Path”
Jesus Christ said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” He also said that when we place God before all else, we will surely meet “with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.” Essentially this is what happens on the spiritual path. We begin by seeking Him, striving to put Him first in our consciousness. Eventually we find a sense of fulfillment of everything we have ever sought, because as His divine children we inherit all that belongs to Him. We are no longer wandering prodigals, but the blessed heirs to God’s kingdom of heaven. But as Jesus states, on our way to that ultimate attainment, we will also receive persecution: persecution that affects the little self, or ego. Through various trials and struggles we learn to separate our soul, this atman, from the shell of ego that holds us prisoner.
Some persons get discouraged because they lose sight of this basic fact about the spiritual path. They think, “Now I am applying the principles of right living. God is supposed to be helping me: He should see to it that everything goes smoothly for me”; then when something goes wrong, or some difficulty or inharmonious situation arises, their first reaction is to strike out at God: “You failed me!” Even if they do not verbalize this, that is what is expressed by their resentment, irritation, impatience. Such human emotions and attitudes continue to imprison the soul. The determined devotee says, “No matter. Somewhere I have missed the point. There is something for me to learn form this; I’ll keep on trying.”
“Rabbits in the Garden, Master’s Story”
Master used to give this illustration: Two men are planting gardens, and outwardly they seem to be doing the same thing; they are looking after the growing plants with conscientious care and attention, giving them the proper fertilizer and water, seeing that all are healthy. Then one day, rabbits break into the gardens and eat up all the little plants. Then the difference between the two gardeners becomes apparent. One is furious and abandons the whole project: “To heck with it! I followed all the principles of right gardening. God should have given me a little help, but He failed me. He let those rabbits come in. Good-bye, garden!”
But the other gardener has a different attitude. He says. “Well, I planted a garden, but I forgot to protect is from the animals. Never mind. I have learned my lesson. I can plant again. I will start another garden.” Devotees who understand what the path to God is all about do not give up.
As your spiritual consciousness steadily, increasingly unfolds by meditation, you develop a much more balanced attitude toward life and toward your relationship with Him who is eternal and all-loving. You begin to behold the continuity of life, you realize: “This present painful experience is just one page in my life, which is immortal.” You are not so fearful. You are not so worried about the story being written on that one page. Each of us has not only this lifetime in which to learn and grow and achieve, but all of eternity to make progress toward the pinnacle of God-realization.
But why be discouraged and put off to future lifetimes what you can accomplish now? If you make a mistake, do not give up or feel that your whole life has been ruined. Instead, learn from your so-called failures that they are actually just stepping-stones to ultimate success.
Excerpts from Sri Sri Daya Mata, YSS magazine IV/05