Grace vs. Self-Effort


In the course of my spiritual progression, will I have to deal with vices like greed and selfishness one by one and pay attention to each one of them or with the passage of Self-realization, will I automatically lose interest in them? I ask because the desire for fame and a superiority complex, though mostly unintended, are hindering my spiritual progress. Please suggest some ways by which I can deal with them.

—Anonymous, India


Dear Friend,

Think in terms of “both-and” (rather than “either-or“). It is both useful to make an effort to overcome habits that hinder one’s spiritual progress and to let divine grace wash away our “sins” (our shortcomings and limitations).

The path of Self-realization as embodied by Raja Yoga (meditation and the Eightfold Path of Patanjali) focuses upon lifting our consciousness up to the superconscious mind (grace) in order that the inflow of intuition, grace, and spiritual power will allow negative habits to simply fall away from lack of interest.

So yes, you will lose interest, but at the same time do what you can when these impulses arise to redirect them into more wholesome directions. Practice humility (self-forgetfulness) and know that both superiority and inferiority complexes are simply aspects of the ego-mind.

You may wish to reflect upon the simple fact that no matter how talented you may be in one task or skill, there is surely another person more talented — whether now or in the soon to be future. Reflect that no matter how intelligent you may feel you are or what opinion you may hold, there is always another valid point of view and even a more intelligent view. In any case, offer up to God all your positive and negative traits for purification and enlightenment. Ok?

Joy to You!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA