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Real progress: Willing a New Year in 2007

by Durga Ahlund

Around this time, each year I consider what it will take, for this year, to be the one of real progress. For real progress, I mean, the year of eliminating all the mixture of Ignorance & Knowledge. For real progress, I mean any action I take must be without conscious or unconscious friction, without any force that welcomes strife (inner or outer). For real progress, all actions I take must be in harmony with my mind, heart and body and taken cheerfully and without any self-serving motivation.

Is real progress attainable this year? This year's resolution is in a nutshell: to consistently act compassionately, both in significant and insignificant actions, wholly from a mind and heart of equanimity.

Is it possible to do this and take life seriously? I seriously doubt it. Seriousness is certainly a quality of my ego. When I am serious, in the lower levels of my being, in my heart, body and life, there is some disquiet, some disturbance, a resistance due to mental, emotional or physical strife, friction, or frustration, regardless of what is happening around me. And conversely, whenever I am feeling playful there no disquiet in my being, regardless of what is said or occurs. Perhaps the only way I can maintain equanimity in this New Year is to take life as a playfully as I can, as a game, and not take anything too seriously.

Due to seriousness, the same phenomenon occurs and recurs, on a more or less intense scale, from year to year. Seriousness refuses change, refusing light, calm, joy, refusing equanimity. Seriousness must be seriously out of touch with our highest intelligence, with our highest self. Being deadly serious is one of the obstacles to spiritual progress. I am sure of that. Out of seriousness we become filled with inflexible concepts, attitudes and dogma. Our serious beliefs, concepts, ideas about things form a powerful force of resistance that may refuse descending Light & Inspiration or take a shape that perversely deforms the light, in order to suit preconceived ideas of our own Ignorance. Out of seriousness, we fear some inequity occurring in our life, or fear that someone else will make a mistake that we must somehow correct. Fear of getting what we don't want can negatively affect our nervous system and physical health. The nervous system links the physical body and the subtle body. Even an underlying fear that something "bad" might happen can pervert the whole of our awareness. By unconsciously agreeing to identify with fear, we can find ourselves suffering greatly from it, even though it may have absolutely no substance in reality. It is out of seriousness that we open our self to fear and block the vital energy that carries joy and calmness and fearlessness.

What is more serious than my emotions, passions, impulses, and vital needs? These are all habits of the lower Nature and are what confuse and mix ignorance and knowledge. It is my seriousness that allows the vital to work against me and blind me and bind me to the responses that come from my most obstinate and self assertive side. I know I must inhibit the revolt of the lower nature against the Light. I know the obstacles that I personally most need to purify and eliminate in my spiritual pursuit of a Divine life. But, I also know that I cannot successfully fight all the adversaries, all the opposition to the force of Light. All I can do is to take refuge in the force of Light. And the force of light is always "light;" it is joyful, open and accepting, selfless and equal-minded, regardless of what is happening around me.

For love, compassion and equanimity to permeate every single thought and action I must learn how to take refuge in that force itself. What is required for that descent is a quiet nature. I must remain composed and tranquil, controlled, or at least passive, until I have achieved a complete silence of the mind and heart and body. I must take life lightly enough to have positive thoughts, cheerful feelings and great clarity regardless of what is going on around me. Cheerfulness can bring my body and mind into harmony; I can sense it immediately. It can remove the friction and anxiety that keeps fear and confusion alive and my entire being out of balance. The subtle body is subject to the will, so I can "will" my self to become cheerful and to become fearless.

When we change the basic underlying substance of our life by willing ourselves to be positive, cheerful, compassionate and equal-minded, we can gradually cleanse the subtle body for a higher thinking and purer acting. This purification also allows us to become quickly aware whenever ego arises and we begin to resist higher forces. Thus, we can initiate a deep change in attitude as long as we continue to "will" higher thoughts and feelings to feed us. The subtle body will always reflect the thoughts and feelings it is being fed.

Through mantra and through austerity of thought there is a purification of the fine matter of the subtle body, and regulation of the breath and purification of the mind. We know that to refine the mind we must refine the prana as the mind and prana are two sides of the same thing. Our emotions are vibrations contained within the subtle body, and the subtle body contains and distributes the vital force of prana. Our emotions must remain calm and content. The prana is directed by the mind and vitalizes whatever the mind thinks about. Attention directs prana. We send life force to whatever we give our attention to. Whenever we think about anything, we are directing the prana into those thought forms. A thought is not just something confined to the brain. A thought is projected out and reflected in life. If a thought become habitual and stimulate emotional responses, it becomes a very powerful force of creation. We create our own life situations, whether we realize it or not. Let go of all negative expressions of mind and the Self shines through. Fed with the love, peace and fearlessness of the Self, our consciousness gets the truth, that all bodies are pervaded and animated by the same vital energy and by the same consciousness as that within our own. That is real progress. And that, is what is required to eliminate the mixture of ignorance and knowledge.

Copyright: M. Govindan Satchidananda, February 2007

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