We are at our community in Assisi, Italy, participating in a weeklong course called, “The Way of the Spiritual Warrior.” Devi and I, as well as other speakers, have drawn heavily on Paramhansa Yogananda’s explanations of the deep teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. That scripture is an allegory of the battle between our higher soul-tendencies and our lower, ego-driven worldly qualities. Each of us, impelled by the desire to reconnect to our true Self, must fight this battle, and the spiritual path gives us the tools and support that we need.

In this morning’s class one of the teachers used a spiritually rich example that I thought to share with you. When the American Civil War broke out, neither side was well prepared. President Abraham Lincoln (who Yogananda said had been a yogi in a past life) immediately began searching for a successful strategy. He knew that the army desperately needed time to get ready for a war against the forces trying to split the Union. He thought deeply about what assets could be brought to bear quickly — this is a good strategy to keep in mind when faced with any challenge.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

He soon realized that the North’s navy was vastly superior, and decided to enforce a naval blockade against the South. Even though the battles themselves would be fought mainly on land, a blockade would keep the enemy from resupplying vitally needed goods. The effect was gradual, but over the next four years, the blockade slowly throttled their ability to wage war as the Rebel forces gradually ran out of equipment and provisions.

Let’s repurpose Lincoln’s blockade strategy for our spiritual life. Take the heart center, the anahat chakra, which needs to become pure and filled with devotion. At this point, it has a mixture of positive and negative feelings, desires, and reactions. Let’s construct a blockade so that the negativity can’t resupply itself. How? Perhaps by chanting more, listening only to uplifting music, and avoiding influences that produce negative reactions. Avoid downward-pulling people and environments, and spend your free time in uplifting activities. The more rigorous your blockade, the faster your negativity will wither away. In order to win the battle of life, we must also resupply our positive forces such as devotion, kindness, meditation, and service to others.

Another example: Paramhansa Yogananda said that we should strive to be completely “even-minded and cheerful.” In the fight to win this battle we can use simple techniques such as pranayama, Hong-Sau, and Yogananda’s “Energization Exercises.” These can be employed not only at times of meditation but throughout the day. When you need to re-center yourself and regain your even-mindedness, tense and relax your body a few times. Practice this before a difficult encounter or an expected disagreement. When something awakens your “fight or flight” response, try to breathe your way out of it rather than either fighting or fleeing. If you are feeling confused or depressed, five minutes of Hong-Sau is the best cure.

There are many varieties of blockades that we can erect, but the central principle remains the same: block the negative and resupply the positive. It may take some time, but eventually the enemy forces of negativity and sorrow will be forced to surrender.

In Joy,
Nayaswami Jyotish

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  1. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish, your commentaries are very beautiful and inspiring. A great challenge in this battle you describe are how to deal with the “collateral victims” — In a true war, like Lincoln’s, there were certainly many civilian victims … and in all war, if one sees the true facts, nothing is black and white — the worst behaviors of the “winners” are covered up and the valiant efforts of the losers are despised …. just wondering how this fact of war translates into the spiritual battle allegory ?

  2. Virginia, you are certainly right about the terrible aspects of warfare. I nearly left the path the first time I read the Bhagavad Gita because I didn’t understand that it was an analogy about an INNER battle. Many people avoid the difficult task of transforming themselves and try, in stead, to transform everyone around them. Take the character Arjuna, who represents fiery self-control. Turned inward, that quality produces a Master, but that same energy of fiery control turned outward toward of others and produces a dictator. The whole lesson of the Gita is that we must fight the battle against delusion inwardly rather than outwardly.

  3. What a beautiful reminder! Thank you! Going over techniques we can use in this fight was very helpful!

  4. Beautiful analogy. Thank you, Jyotish. I’m sorry I’m not able to be in Assisi with you this summer! Many blessings and much love, dhuti

  5. Thank you Jyotishji for this article , Blockades . Such a good reminder for the battle that is taking place within us between our positive and negative tendencies and how to work for freedom. Aum Guru 🙏

  6. Right to the heart of the matter. Great reminder. Thanks so much, Jyotish!

    1. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
      Thank you for this inspiring blog… A great message said in simpler way. Very important to practice consistently.
      Aum Guru

  7. I was surprised to hear a blockade won the civil war. The way you have described how we can use this for spiritual progress is very inspiring and promising. I was at a fire preparedness meeting yesterday here at Ananda Village, and we are putting up a ‘blockade’ of positive energy and physical readiness to be prepared for anything to happen. With God’s grace no fire would come to touch us.

  8. Thank You Jyotishji,
    Very sound advice. As the song says…
    “Ac-cen-tuate the positive, E-lim-in-ate the negative…”

  9. What is the source behind every existence, thought and experience?
    When you find the answers to those question, you will begin to experience the earliest stages of liberation.
    That doesn’t mean though one still won’t be dealing with the daily struggles between what is and what isn’t and if I should or if I shouldn’t.
    The label God is a minomer, what “God” is, is no different than an ovum.
    What we are experiencing as separate individuals (that in turn live innumerable lifetimes) is proof that “God” has yet to be born and by that reasoning, wake.
    So, God or “we” as seemingly separate entities., contain within our souls, including dogs, nascent awarenesses comprised of light matter that evolves over multiple lifetimes until the Consciousness within is able to free itself of the temporal Soul to add its unique set of experiences to the collection that still continues to grow and expand.
    When there’ll be no need for life, in these sets of universes we find ourselves currently inhabiting, then a TRUE GOD will have been born, luckily this is going on all over the place otherwise ultimate enlightenment may get kind of lonely.
    Here a God Ovum, there a God Ovum., everwhere a God Ovum.
    “God” is NOT Dead., it just has yet to be born.
    Imagine meeting an individual with access to knowledge brought together from innumerable characters having lived innumerable lifetimes each filled with innumerable sufferings, pleasures, experiments and discoveries.
    The ultimate computer or CPU.
    In my last five lifetimes I’ve been shot, decapitated, shot, crushed and shot. Three war, one rebel, one toddler.
    Stick a fork in me., I’m done, is kind of how I feel.

  10. Hello dear ones. I so very much appreciate your ‘Touches’ that keep me and all our fellow gurubhais reminded of our true goal. President Lincoln is one of my greatest heroes. What a challenge he and the nation faced during the Civil War. I very much appreciate your suggestions and reminders of the incredible tools that Master has given to us to fight and win our ongoing battle. Thank you Krishna, Arjuna and Divine Mother for always having our backs. In Divine Friendship, namaste

  11. Dear Madam, dear Sir,
    I wished it to be so easy, and I was no yogi in my last life.
    I was a commander of the South. And there were motives
    and reasons to fight for the South, as there were homes and
    families too.
    The Divine should have played better – not only in American
    Civil War. The Divine – if existing – should play better, as an
    Buddhist said to me. And therefore Buddhists say : don’t be-
    lieve in God, as there is no God .
    Sincerely yours
    Wolfgang Seitz Munich

  12. Thank you Jyotish for this powerful reminder! I needed to hear this.

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