Overcoming Inertia and Passivity

Do you wonder why you are not progressing in every way, and especially spiritually? Do you feel that, no matter how you try to be otherwise, you are a helpless victim of your already formed habits and circumstances? Do you ask yourself at the end of each day whether you have progressed in any way? Tomorrow should find you better than today.

Very few people are able to use their power of free choice to make themselves what they want to be in life. Most people allow themselves to grow passively in any undirected way, according to their habits or moods. Passive people do not put forth the continued, focused effort necessary for spiritual or material success. The chill of inertia, the failure to make an ongoing effort to progress, is the greatest barrier to success and happiness in life.

How actions of the past and present affect our lives.

The soul evolves over many lifetimes. At first, a person sees himself as wholly dependent on whatever happens to him. Like a baby, his personality lacks definition. Gradually, as he develops a stronger sense of self, he decides to participate more actively in the events that concern him directly, and seeks within himself the power to influence those events. His successes and failures over many lifetimes manifest in his current life as distinct karmic tendencies.

If a person’s past success tendencies and current efforts to succeed are weak, his chances of financial success in this life are also weak; in fact, they are almost negligible. However, if a person’s success tendency from the past is strong, even though his present life is marked by inactivity and inertia, he will be born into a wealthy family or suddenly inherit a fortune. On the other hand, those who became indifferent to their wealth in the past may be reborn into a life of poverty and struggle, only to acquire great wealth by a so-called stroke of luck, perhaps a sudden inheritance.

Not surprisingly, the person with a strong prosperity consciousness from the past who makes a strenuous effort to earn money in this life, succeeds in all his ventures. Usually he has unfailing business judgment and seldom makes a losing investment. By contrast, the person with a poverty tendency from previous lifetimes has to struggle uphill to succeed, but his efforts will not be in vain. He will either become prosperous late in life or his next incarnation will be dominated by success.

The devotee must avoid complacency

Every devotee needs to be aware that both good and bad karmic tendencies (habits) dwell in the kingdom of his consciousness. Devotees who have driven away the forces of restlessness through powerful acts of daily concentration, sometimes become complacent, and refrain from combating mental inertia by ongoing attempts to meditate deeply.

When the devotee, through introspection, beholds the invading hordes of evil tendencies advancing to steal his inner peace, he must act as a spiritual general. To defeat the marauding armies of evil inclinations, he must immediately reinforce his good qualities, the protecting soldiers of his many good tendencies. If instead, the devotee, through inertia, fails to fight the evil inclinations that draw him toward temptation, he will find himself mocked by his own evil habits.

A person must be strong-willed to drive away the mind-paralyzing fears that would destroy his inner peace. Falsely they proclaim that the life of the Spirit holds no potential for peace or happiness.  When tempted to sue for peace at any cost, let the devotee reflect that should the evil pretender win, the first to be banished from the kingdom would be peace and contentment. Thereafter the kingdom would be ruled by chaos. Only if divine love and virtue are victorious will peace and contentment prevail.

Neutrality is worse than negativity

During any period of vacillation, the sincere devotee listens to the voice of the Infinite within and is intuitively instructed by Spirit. By meditation, the voice of the Infinite becomes more and more tangible. That inner voice says: “Forsake all attachment to the senses, use your power of will to relinquish all unmanly qualities, and refrain from doing anything which goes against the true nature of the soul.”

The word “unmanly” signifies anything which is unbecoming to the positive aspect of the soul. Sense-attachment is unmanly because it tries to appease the soul with evanescent sense-pleasures in preference to lasting soul happiness. It is also unmanly to be negative. In a negative state of mind, the devotee loses sight of the positive nature of the soul, and its dedication to his highest good. Being neutral is worse than being negative. In the negative state, the devotee is afraid to forsake sense-attachments. In the neutral state, however, the devotee has neither attachment to God nor to the senses and loses all power of transcendence.

It requires some mental activity even to be negative, but in neutrality of mind the devotee becomes incapable of any activity, whether good or bad. With unmistakable clarity, the soul warns the devotee about falling into a state of spiritual inertia, in which the desire for good or evil uniformly vanishes.

How to attune to the divine will

Passive people want God to do all of the work. They do not use the power of God within them.  In order to succeed, in the early morning and before going to bed, every man or woman interested in material or spiritual prosperity must meditate and make positive contact with God.  Using their full powers of concentration, they should ask God to direct their focused minds to the right understanding and actions for the right kind of success.

Passive people think that by the virtue of prayer alone, God will grant their wishes. This is not true. You must also exercise your will power and through daily meditation strive to attune your will with the Divine Will. This is the way to develop your will: Before you will to do a thing, reason as to what you should do. Make sure that you are directing your will toward accomplishing something good and helpful to you. When your will revolves continuously around an appropriate course of action, it becomes dynamic will. All great saints and masters possess this kind of dynamic will power.

Behind your will is the will of God. God will help you if you first help yourself. Whatever you have done in this life or in past lives can be undone. If a particular karma is strong, it can at least be modified.The key to victory over karma is will power, held in conscious attunement with the Supreme Power through meditation. First use your creative ability to gain success in every worthwhile project that you undertake, making proper use of all your God-given powers. Then pray to Him to help you to bring your efforts to a successful conclusion.

Reborn with the same tendencies

No matter how many times an individual finds himself, in spite of strong mental resolutions, succumbing to the temptations of sensuality, greed, anger, or egotism, he  should not give up his continuous daily attempts to fight these invading evils. To remain in a state of inertia is to be a prisoner of evil in this life and hereafter. But anyone who continuously struggles against evil tendencies every day in his life, and fails to completely conquer them, will be reborn as a person of great self-control. In other words, all souls who resist failure to the end are reborn as individuals destined for success.

However, anyone who after making no effort to overcome temptations, dies with the thought of being vanquished, through the law of cause and effect, is reborn with the same tendency of failure. For this reason alone, no individual should remain in a state of passivity or inertia when confronted with difficulties, but should bring into proper use all of his God-given powers and  should, if necessary, die struggling.

From articles and lessons

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Sharing the Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda