What do I need to do to create and claim the peace and clarity in my life that I know is tangible? How do I accept struggle as a pivotal stepping stone and allow it to lead me to what’s next?
—Tristan , United States
Why indeed must we struggle? I recall the frustration, even a bit of anger, over that realization long ago. It seems so unfair. One finally gets to the stage where he wants peace and wisdom, yet life remains a titanic struggle, whether around us in the world, or within our own consciousness. Sigh.
My teacher, Swami Kriyananda (a disciple trained by Paramhansa Yogananda) would remind us that we have spent countless lifetimes ignoring peace, rejecting God, and pursuing happiness and pleasure on our own terms. Even our failures and sufferings did not deflect us from trying this and seeking that. So, guess what? When we wake up to the desire for peace and harmony, why should we feel we don’t have to pay off our karma and pay our dues? Why should we imagine the “pearl of great price” can be bought for cheap?
The point of view that now we want peace (when before we wanted power, let’s say, or pleasure, or money, etc., etc.) still comes from the ego. Peace lives within you right now. You need only to drop the “wanting.” On a certain level, you need to surrender to the present moment; to the presence of God that emanates from the still center of your heart and soul. Self-acceptance is another way of describing this. You are who you are because of what you have become through your actions. At the same time, inner peace is your highest and most true reality. You need only to turn away from the past — from restless preoccupations, desires, fears and judgments — and “receive” the Christ-peace which is your soul.
Let your “salvation” and arrival into sacred peace be the work of your soul, your guru, and Divine Mother. It is not solely the product of your will power and your doing. It is self-effort, but ultimately it is grace, as God alone is the sole reality of the universe. God is the Doer. Do your best and “leave the rest.”
As Lahiri Mahasaya has put it, “Banat, banat, ban jai!” Doing, doing, soon done. Or as the Buddhists say, “Chop wood; carry water.” Continue on the spiritual path through daily meditation, prayer, service to God through others, and love for God. Be not concerned for the “goal,” for the arrival.
There is a lovely story of a disciple who, as a young man, came to the ashram of guru to take initiation. The guru then gave the young man the job of collecting wood for the ashram stove and fires. The disciple did this day after day, year after year. He saw others come and receive techniques and verbal counsel, but all he did was collect wood. One day a stick of wood caught in his hair (his topknot) and he saw that the loosed hair was grey. He looked down into a pool of water and saw that he was now old. Tears formed in his eyes. He thought he had accomplished nothing spiritually. His guru came running out of the ashram crying, “Don’t cry! Don’t you know that if one teardrop falls onto the ground our country will experience seven years of famine?” The guru touched him at the heart and the disciple suddenly entered samadhi!
You see, the disciple obeyed his guru and carried out his guru-given duties without concern for himself and, lacking egoic self-concern, merited cosmic consciousness. Be like that disciple.
Be well; live in joy!