When I started the spiritual life, I felt at times progress was effortless. There were beautiful, sublime meditations; everything was going so well the mind would start to mentally count the years before God-Realisation. Then after the most sublime moments of meditation, the next day, you could be shocked by your own weaknesses and frailties coming to the fore. For no good reason or from the smallest of incidents, you could feel negative emotions such as frustration and pride looming over your mind. You might develop ill-feeling towards a certain person; and the mind creates images of wounded pride. Before you know it, you can get caught up in the thought-trains of the mind, and it can become difficult to get off. Even when you mentally rationalise your emotions and know them to be wrong, the emotion may persist – as if it is something coming from outside you. It takes away all your joy and you wonder what went wrong. One moment, you feel you’re making great progress, the next you feel you’ve made hardly any progress at all.
At such times, meditation can actually be difficult. It is like the mind or vital (emotional aspect of our being) is too strong for our limited willpower, and you feel you are fighting a losing battle.
Such moments are an inevitability of life and the attempt to transform human nature. Perhaps, following a spiritual life we feel these negative moments more keenly. After experiencing real, sublime peace, it is even more painful and shocking when you are overwhelmed by the opposite qualities. You almost feel guilty for losing so much. Yet, though it is human nature to have setbacks, you feel the spiritual life gives you the tools to overcome it. You learn that the mind doesn’t have to be the master. There is always a choice of what to feel and what to experience. On innumerable occasions, you experience a situation where a short meditation or reading can transform your consciousness – enabling you to throw off what is bothering you. In a relatively short time, you see everything from a very different perspective.
Sometimes problems only dissolve when you realize you can’t fix them on your own. The mind goes round in circles trying to solve the problem, but often just magnifies it. It is a relief to feel you are offering the problem to Guru, to the Supreme. Outwardly, I never told Guru about any issue, but inwardly I would meditate on his transcendental picture to try and resolve problems or ask questions.
I feel Guru knows human nature in all its multifarious aspects. Guru identified with his disciples – not just their success but also their failures and weaknesses. When we suffered, he took this on himself, to try and throw it off. Just one quick glance from Guru could take away a seemingly intractable problem. This happened quite a few times.
When we think of other people, it is often their faults and weaknesses that spring to the fore. It is so difficult for the mind to be tolerant and see the best in others. Sri Chinmoy was once asked how he looked upon his disciples. His answer was quite revealing. In his highest meditation, he does not see us like we would. Guru said he saw a stream of consciousness – it was the beauty of our own souls that he saw in us. To Guru, the outer human nature was only a shadow of the real self, which was all illumining and all beautiful.
“So when I see someone, immediately I see the divine aspect inside them. After realisation, you see everything as divinity. That is why I say that God sees you as another God. As soon as you look in a mirror or at another person, you see the physical body. But when I see someone, the magnetic pull is immediately to the highest divinity of the person.”
Sri Chinmoy, My Heart-Melody, Agni Press, 1994.
This is something not so easy to understand. But, when I get frustrated with others, I try to imagine how Guru sees others.
It is one thing to know that the Divine resides within, but it is another to bring it to the fore. Swami Vivekananda said transforming human nature was like straightening the tail of a dog; as soon as it was straightened it would curl back. Both the seeker, and the spiritual Master, certainly need great patience. But, through all his years in the West with his spiritual children, Guru never gave up. He always kept trying and striving to change our human nature.
Despite all the miracles of Guru’s weightlifting, his innumerable poems, musical performances and art work, I feel his supreme achievement was to strive so selflessly and tirelessly for the transformation of his disciples. Is there any more difficult task than the transformation of human nature?