What I’d like to talk about this morning is how to break through things that hold us back. A number of us have difficulty breaking through things that hold us back. It’s different for each of us; for each of us have an amalgam of issues and experiences from our past that either create obstacles internally, or cause us to either over-respond or shy away from obstacles that come from our environment.
Most recently, we have all faced living through the pandemic of Covid. It has been a disease that impacted the health and lives of all humans on the planet, yet the responses to the pandemic are as varied as each individual due to their differing samskaras, or karmas that are waiting to be ripened. At one end of the spectrum are those who would not even leave their house or apartment out of fear of getting infected. On the other end of the spectrum were those who acted belligerently, or that even thought that the existence of Covid was a hoax. And then there are those in between who found their way through these times using moderation and good thoughts and skills.
So is a planet that’s been confronted with the same life-threatening disease, but responses are so different. When faced with a threat that could mean loss of life, what is your response? It’s usually to look for your own safety and the safety of those close to you, near and dear to you. But caution can give way to fear, and fear is a significant enemy on the spiritual path. So one must face their own inner fears with the spirit of a warrior.
One of the names for Krishna is Madhusudana, which means the slayer of demons. It’s not an aspect of Krishna often spoken of. Prince Siddhartha had to become a demon slayer. He placed himself under the Bodhi Tree and he said, “I’m staying here until I reach enlightenment.” And so, in that time under the Bodhi Tree, all his demons came up, his inner demons that had to be faced. So, he also had to be a spiritual warrior to deal with all his demons.
When the quest was completed, he had no fears, no unrequited karmas holding him back. And in a short period of time, he faced and overcame all his negative samskaras that came from past experiences and past lives. He was now a clear, realized being, who could live and teach from that place of complete harmony. But our paths are not quite the path of the Buddha. We don’t have the propensity to sit under a tree until we attain enlightenment. We are in-the-world yogis who have had the same goals as the Buddha, but we must face them in our day-to-day lives.
Our path to enlightenment is engagement in the world, not withdrawal. Some would say our path is hard, for in it, there is more complexity with no tendency to withdraw from society to a place with no distractions. So what is it that holds you back, and what is the cure? What is something that you as a warrior have faced, need to face, are in the middle of facing? Shrii Shrii Anandamurti made a list of what he called enemies and bondages, and you can see which ones you relate to.
One of them is lust, but I want to point out it is not necessarily sexual lust. It’s lust for power, lust for greed, lust for control over others. Anger, greed, enchantment, such as enchantment with worldly objects, pride, envy, those were called enemies. The bondages are fear, hatred, shyness, pride of heritage, pride of culture, vanity, backbiting.
Fear and shyness are very common. I have one I’ll share, and that is, a fear of making other people angry. Fear of other people’s anger. Those are two of mine, and the third one for me that wasn’t in this list, something that holds me back is judgment, judging others and then being worried about someone’s judgment of me. Does anyone else have something else you want to toss onto the floor here?
Perfectionism and control, envy, judgement, these are demons within ourselves that we need to face before we get to realization. We have so many blockages: overwhelm, procrastination, self judgement, the list goes on.
So, what is the cure? The cure is to apprehend the divine in everything and everyone, no matter how much challenge a person or a situation may bring you. For the worldly yogi, this is the path, and this is the struggle. And who brings you the greatest struggle? It is your adversaries, for they bring you to the challenge to see them as simply another aspect of the divine, and even when attacking, and you are fighting to overcome, the adversary is still an expression of the divine.
And the greatest challenge, the one you would shy away from, is the one to turn your attention to. But the part of you that gives the challenger the advantage is your own emotions, your fear, your anger, your rage, and your timidity. If you stand in the power of your own truth and light, nothing, or no one, can harm you. They may cause pain in your body, or in your emotions, but they cannot overcome you if you are ensconced in the divine. Then you are part of the one, the immutable, and beyond the scope of any human to damage your true essence, that you and your beloved are one.
This post was transcribed from a talk by Acharya Bhavananda.
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