It is common to lament the slowness and difficulty of one’s spiritual efforts. Heroic courage is needed for victory in this most challenging, but also most important, of all struggles. Many devotees, after a little effort, flee the scene and return to the life they were living before.
A common lament is, “But — it’s so difficult!” Well, of course it is! Can the “pearl of great price” be won without great effort? Yet there simply is no alternative!
The average man doesn’t realize how restless his mind is. When he sits to meditate, he may be aghast to find how his consciousness seethes and roils with one idea after the other, one plan after the other, one sensation, one memory, one intention after the other. Discouragement may seize him in a vice-like grip. Let him continue calmly to discipline this fractious colt! It will come gradually under control, and behave as he wants it to.
The chief reason people get discouraged is their expectation of specific results.
Patience is necessary for calming the mind. Paramhansa Yogananda likened it to a glass of water containing mud and other particles. One cannot command the water to become clear, but if one allows the glass to sit for awhile the impurities will gradually settle to the bottom of their own accord.
One should live more wholeheartedly right now, enjoying his yoga practices, thinking of this moment, not of the future, but simply loving God in the present and offering oneself up to the Lord without any expectation of a reward. You should remind yourself, indeed, that there is no you to be rewarded!
God is ever near. What seems to hold Him at a distance is only our indifference. If we will do the work necessary for calming our thoughts and feelings (above all), we will find Him there, waiting for us. People who wail over His continued silence, and His seeming heedlessness of them in their suffering, need only the apply principles that they already know from daily life.
Do they want worldly success? They know — or learn soon enough — that it won’t be dropped into their laps: They must work for it. Do they want human love? They know it won’t come to them if they simply sit at home, languishing. Do they want rubies, diamonds, gold? These things are not found lying about on the ground: They must be mined by someone with great effort, and paid for by others at great cost.
How is it that people think God owes it to them to answer their brief, restless, and usually shallow prayers? Anguished prayers? Sometimes — but the anguish passes, and they soon forget Him again as they go off chasing after some new will-o’-the-wisp. God sees all this, and says, “I will wait.” He wants to be sure of our love, for He has been seeking it, with hardly ever a glance in His direction from man, for millennia!