I lost the battle last night. Yogananda said that life is a “battle for joy” – and I lose more often than I like to admit. When you find a true teaching, a true guru, and a spiritual family who reflect and support your ideals, it is a major victory, and life seems infinitely more doable. But the real work has just begun!
There is something else Yogananda said – that we should be able to “stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds”. That brought to mind images of Yogananda standing calmly while all around him volcanoes erupted and earthquakes raged and whole worlds exploded. Then one day, while trying to hold onto joy and reason in the midst of some trivial life event, I realized that “crashing worlds” didn’t necessarily mean galactic cataclysms. Little teeny, tiny worlds crash when the car runs out of gas, or your children don’t do the dishes, or you don’t meet the deadline. So then, that understanding translated into pictures (my visual learning style is showing) of miniature little worlds exploding around me during those small, but challenging, life events that come to us daily.
But I continued to believe that I had to tackle life in big chunks. I struggled with being who I wanted to be at work, at home, being a mom, and being a friend, in this circumstance or that. I worked on defining myself as a disciple under all circumstances, and that was another step in understanding. But life is hard, and I kept working with all the tools Yogananda has given us, to do life better – with more joy and awareness.
Gradually, (so gradually!) I broke up life into smaller and smaller pieces. I worked on being joyful for this day, for this morning, for this task. I tried to be a channel for joy with this person, or while confronted with that challenge. But it was, too often, more than I could do.
I’m not sure when it happened, but a new level of understanding came clear. The battle became for each moment, each breath and each heartbeat. The battlefield is not outward circumstance, it is in the spine – where energy moves and consciousness is the territory. Now I ask Master, “How do I meet this moment with the highest consciousness?” And gradually (why does it have to take so long?), it becomes just one question and one answer, for each moment and each thought.
I lost last night because I stopped asking the question, and the slope down to lower consciousness is steep – an easy, fast ride down to the bottom. I felt the failure this morning and I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the battle again. But the battle wasn’t waiting for me when I got out of bed; it was there in bed with me! In my thoughts. Laying there meant more territory lost, and the battle wasn’t going to end because I didn’t like it. So I asked the question, “Master, how do I meet this moment with the highest consciousness?” And I got out of bed and asked again. By the time I hit the shower I felt a glimmer of victory.