Spiritual Laziness and Other Virtues

It’s early morning and you’re shuffling to your meditation seat. You’re feeling that peaceful anticipation that comes before a meditation. Still walking, you glance up and see your laptop on your desk. It seems to beckon to you. The thought arises, “You know, it would only take a few moments, a few keystrokes to check my emails, to see if so-and-so wrote back.” 

Mental yawn. “No, I can’t be bothered.” Not even shrugging, you sit down on your meditation cushion and begin to quiet your mind.

I think all spiritual seekers come up with little techniques to help them on the path. I call this one “Spiritual Laziness.” Instead of doing something I know will not benefit me spiritually, at that moment I try to tune into that “I don’t feel like it,” lazy attitude. It’s my way of turning a shortcoming into a virtue.

“Spiritual Laziness” has its counterpart:

It’s 5:00 AM. It must be, because your alarm clock has gone off. You reach over and switch it off. And the thought comes, “It’s so nice and peaceful, lying here. Why don’t I just lie here for a few minutes before I get up and meditate.” 

You know what will happen if you give in. An hour and a half later you will finally wake up hearing your child playing in his room, and you will have lost the opportunity to experience perfect silence. And you may find yourself “behind the eight ball” the rest of the day.

To counteract that thought, you momentarily tune into a frame of mind that has sought at times to plague your meditations.

“You know, it’s really hard to just sit or lie here. I really need to get up and do something, RIGHT NOW.”

And so you get up and walk over to your meditation seat.

I’ve named this technique “Spiritual Restlessness.”

These two are “backwards virtues.” But here is a more straightforward one you might want to add to your spiritual toolbelt:

You’re watching a spiritual movie or listening to music when, perhaps unexpectedly, you find yourself being moved to the core of your being. The heavens open up, your spirit soars, and you feel that sense of perfect inner clarity that comes only rarely on the spiritual path. 

For a long time, you bask in the radiance of your experience. Then, after a time, you begin to feel your exaltation diminishing.

Suddenly, the idea pops into your mind. “Let me share this.”

Focusing on your inspiration, the essence of what you’ve been experiencing, you expand it out in waves to all open souls in your neighborhood, your state, your country, and the whole world. Your ego dissolves as you act as a direct channel of this special inspiration to all who might benefit from it.

I’ve dubbed this one “Applied Inspiration.”

Share Your Own “Backwards Virtue”

Do you have a helpful “backwards virtue” or spiritual technique you’ve developed that you think might help others? Feel free to share it by posting a comment below.

A Place Called Ananda

A blog by disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda


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