Recently a fellow-disciple asked me, “What should we do when we feel restless, spiritually ‘dry,’ out of tune, or when we feel strongly drawn back into worldly desires?’

I will discuss in this blog what I did when these kinds of feelings first “ambushed” me, and also, what others have done when finding themselves in similar situations. For I believe that challenges like these happens to most sincere spiritual seekers. I even invented a name for them. I call them the “Fifth Chakra Challenges.”

First, it is important to recognize that the fifth chakra is one of the higher chakras, located way up there in the chakras system, so when “Fifth Chakra Challenges” start happening to us, we can know that we are making excellent spiritual progress. It shows that our souls know we are ready to take on a new kind of challenge, one which is considerably more subtle than those presented by the lower four chakras.

The fifth chakra’s positive qualities are calmness, silence, and great expansiveness out into the unknown reaches of space or ether (“ethereal-ness”). However, as with all the chakras, it has its downside, too. It can also make us feel non-beneficial qualities like restlessness, boredom, and a sense of being ungrounded.

The way most of us experience these harmful qualities (and we often do not recognize or understand what is happening to us) is through a strong restless urge, suggesting that it would be helpful to drop back down into the lower chakras, indulge in familiar old habits, and thus, somehow, to FEEL MORE HUMAN AGAIN!

Our Gurus recognize that these challenges can and do happen. Sri Yukteswar offered a solution, saying, “When the dog yowls, simply throw the dog a bone!” A temporary slip into a desire to experience the good things of this world is not the end of our spiritual lives, as long as we know which way we are going and make a point to return to the pursuit of our goal of spiritual freedom as quickly as we can. These challenges simply happen, but recognizing what is happening can be very helpful!

When it first happened to me (and it has happened many times), I had only been at Ananda for about five weeks (my first visit), participating in the Apprenticeship Program (Summer, 1975). I was working very hard in the beautiful Ananda organic gardens, six days a week. In addition, I never missed the group sadhanas, three times a day. For me, this was a big jump, from about 15-minutes of meditation per day to 4½ hours daily, including yoga postures and chanting. Strengthening my sadhana was one of the primary reasons I came to Ananda. Still, it was a big lifestyle shift for me.

After weeks of diligently keeping this schedule, I woke up early one morning and found that I simply could not go to sadhana that morning. I thought if I chanted another chant, did another yoga posture or energization exercise, or spent another minute in meditation, that I would BURST and “freak out.”

Therefore, instead of going to the morning sadhana session, I slept late, then went down to Tyler-Foote Rd. and hitchhiked a ride to Nevada City. I walked down Broad Street, bought a newspaper to read, found a small restaurant, ordered a large soft drink, a big plate of French-fries and a chocolate milkshake. For most of that day, I walked around town and tried to feel like a normal person again. At the close of the day, I caught a ride back to Ananda and was happy to resume my schedule of work, sadhana, classes, etc.
You see, I had “…thrown the dog a bone” and my “dog” was content, at least for a while. For a long time, I never told anyone about my “escape.” I thought that I had done a very “unspiritual thing,” for sure!

What to my surprise, when I found the courage to tell someone (a new friend I had made at Ananda) about what I had done, and he was very amused by my story!

He said, “I think this feeling of rebellion happens to everyone here, sooner or later. Let me tell you what I did when it first happened to me. I drove to Sacramento, looked up an old girlfriend, ate a steak dinner, got drunk, had sex, and then came back to Ananda. I really have to scoff at your French-fries etc.” We both laughed together.

Later, when I first heard Swami Kriyananda talk on this subject, I realized that he had experienced the same challenge. Amazing! This is how he related the story:

I remember when I had been at Mt. Washington several months. In sudden rebellion one evening, against the constant call to service and meditation, I lay down stubbornly on my bed and spent a couple of blissful hours with a volume of Shakespeare’s plays. I simply needed a break. Master [Paramhansa Yogananda] recognizing the rebelliousness of human nature, encouraged occasional diversions. He encouraged me, too, to be less extreme, and more relaxed, in my zeal. As he told me once, “The mind is like a donkey. If you keep on forcing it, it will stand still and refuse to budge another step no matter how hard you beat it. The thing to do, then, is let it stand awhile. Finally, it will start walking again of its own accord.”

Reading Shakespeare’s plays? Well, perhaps we tend to fall back to an appropriate level of “human-ness,” based on our present level of spiritual development.

It is very helpful to remember that when worldly restlessness seems to descend upon us, we may need to have what we consider “some fun in life.” We may need to do the things, which satisfy our worldly desires, instead of always trying to be a person who does nothing but DHARMA, DHARMA, DHARMA! However, once the “dog gets its bone,” it’s time to remember our spiritual goals and return with renewed vigor and determination to the upward climb — up the chakras to final freedom!

This “moving-up-and-down-the-chakras” activity may go on for years — maybe lifetimes, even though it does seem to tend to “refine” itself in an upward direction. The deeper we go spiritually [into our spiritual lives], the more the “bone” that satisfied the “dog” seems to have more spiritually-based qualities.

It used to be that when this feeling grabbed me, I would eat chocolate, read a crummy novel, turn on a Beatles album, and dance around the house playing my “air guitar,” to get my “fix” of feeling human again. In these ways, I quickly got over my rebellious feelings of, “I don’t WANT to be that spiritual (yet!). I just can’t live that way, all the time. I’m not strong enough to do it! I want to feel like a real person again. I want to return to some of the sense indulgences that made me feel happy and satisfied!”

Soon enough, it becomes quite noticeable that there is a wide spectrum in the quality of our desires on our upward climb to final freedom. Sometimes our lives feel like we are taking three steps forward and a step or two backwards. Nevertheless, with persistence, perseverance, and the grace of God and Gurus to help us — it’s onward and upward we go! Try to notice this happening in yourself.

At this point in my life, the activities, which help me, when “Fifth Chakra Challenges” descend upon me, are different (although I’ll admit that I still like chocolate and light reading, from time to time). However, my favorite thing to do now is to go the nearby Yuba River (alone!), swim in its clear waters, sit on a sun-warmed boulder, chant quietly, and watch the tall trees above me move in the wind. Rather than read a worldly novel, I now write novels instead — entertaining ones, with a spiritual theme — as Swamiji asked me to do.

From time to time, during my 40 years of living at Ananda, I have “snapped or had a small fifth chakra breakdown.” Eventually I learned how to “throw the dog a bone, or let the donkey take a break,” and not feel even a tiny bit guilty about it. I know now that a slip is not a fall!

In closing, I would like balance what I have said by emphasizing how important it is not to let ourselves become caught in a more serious downward spiral. It can happen, so be respectful of that possibility. If you find yourself in a state of rebellion, stop a moment and talk to God and Gurus about it. Then include them in your ‘detour,’ whatever form it may take. Take them with you!
As soon as you feel better, then refocus your energy and remind yourself of your joy-filled spiritual goals and the specific activities that will help you accomplish them, as quickly as possible.

Pleasure is simply pleasure. Happiness is better than pleasure, and joy is even better than happiness! We must constantly remind ourselves that the never-ending, ever-new bliss of the soul and oneness with God tops everything. We will get there eventually, for endless bliss is already within us, waiting to be uncovered. It is our truest destiny. We must remember never to stop striving — onward and upward — into perfect freedom!

P.S. Please see my website at SavitriSimpson.com.

8 Comments

  1. Thank you, Savitri! I so love your heartful, honest, empathetic, practical, & encouraging words! :-)

  2. Thank you Savitri, for this powerful Yogic teaching! This will be an invaluable tool to add to our “Kriya belt” as we move forward on the path to Liberation.
    Jai Guru!

  3. Thank You Savitri for this article. It is a nice reminder that sometimes we need to recognize that all we need to do is throw the dog a bone, WITH the masters by our side…OM OM OM

  4. Thank you Savitri. I have been throwing bones for some time. I have a very large, worldly dog. I feared that I would throw myself off the path, but Divine Mother’s love seems to be irresistible. I am so grateful.

  5. jay guru.
    thanks a lot as I also got my answer. sometimes i also felt to take a break for a day or two as my mind continuously remind me for activities other than meditation which unable me to concentrate.

    1. Jesus Christ can give you rest. He can also give freedom. Freedom from being slave sin, freedom from guilt, freedom from God’s wrath (which will come upon anyone who does not believe in Jesus and all who make a practice of wickedness. They will be judged and then thrown into the eternal fire if they don’t believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God) . “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:2)
      “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.‭‭”(John‬ ‭8:36)“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”‭‭(Romans‬ ‭6:22‬)

  6. Imagine murdering someone and you go to court. The judge says that because of what you have done you will be executed. And what if you say to the judge is “But I’m a good person! I volunteered at a soup kitchen, helped an old lady cross the street, and I gave money to charity!” Do you think that doing these good deeds will excuse him of his crime? Do you think he is a good person even though he took the life of another human being? Absolutely not! It’s the same thing with us humans! We lie, cheat, steal,gossip, get drunk, slander, murder, blaspheme, hate, rape, cause arguments.we are violent, greedy, selfish, conceited, prideful, disobedient to authority, self-seeking, rude, disrespectful, covetous, and so much more! All because of our evil human nature and we do these things on a daily basis! People may call them faults or mistakes but they’re really called sins. If you say you don’t sin then you are wrong. If you have lied, cheated, gotten jealous, or have been selfish you have sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. “(1 John‬ ‭1:8‬)None of us are “good people” because we all sin. And sin ends in death and results in eternity burning in fire for ETERNITY. How many good deeds would it take for you to atone for all your sins? We sin many times every single day. Simply gossiping or getting jealous or cussing are sins.God is our Righteous Judge and punishes all who practice wickedness and sin. WE SIN EVERYDAY and there is no way we can atone for our sins because we sin MUCH MORE than we do good deeds. But because of God’s great mercy, grace, and love He sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to take the punishment that we deserved so that our sins could be forgiven so we could go to Heaven. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”(‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭)“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭10:10‬) “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    (‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:10)God rose Jesus Christ from the dead proving that even sin and death could not keep its hold on Jesus Christ and that God will raise to life those who believed in Jesus “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:56-57)“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”‭‭(Acts‬ ‭2:24‬)
    (‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14)“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭1:3‬) Since Jesus is the exact representation of God, His sacrifice provided purification for sins, and by believing in Him His righteousness can become ours(since Jesus Christ, like God, is perfect and sinless. Because He is God’s Son)“but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”‭‭(Romans‬ ‭4:24-25)”But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”‭‭(1 John‬ ‭3:5‬) Other religions say you have to do this and that to get into Heaven but, the One true God demonstrated that what you need to do to atone for your sins and get to Heaven has already been done for you by His perfect and sinless Son Jesus Christ. For, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”‭‭(1 John‬ ‭2:2‬) If you reject such a great salvation God’s wrath remains on you. If you die without Jesus and the salvation He offers, if you die and you’re still in your sins and being slave to them, eternal hellfire awaits you and so does the lake of fire. Repent (meaning confess sins and turn away from them) and believe in the Gospel I have told you!! Don’t wait you could be next in death’s line!! You could die tonight! Except the great salvation of the Lord TODAY. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    ‭‭(Romans‬ ‭6:23‬) “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”(1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-11)

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