Don't Get Stuck in the Mud
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2003-03-30
One reaction many face in life is the feeling of being unworthy and wanting to give up in our spiritual efforts. This feeling of despair can make a person feel stuck and unchangeable, which can then lead to taking the incorrect attitude of just "staying in the mud." Don't get stuck in the mud; this is a time when the help of family, friends, and the guidance of the guru should be sought to uplift our consciousness, to help us face and make up for the misdeeds which have triggered this reaction in our conscience.
Feeling unworthy and giving up.
Lots of reasons to give up and of course, that is one of the challenges in life when we hit difficulties. Not to give up, not to get despondent and give up on a positive plan for our life.
Of course, that is a time when family, friends, monks and gurus are all helpful to help us not go through that natural reaction, which we would go through if we were alone. If we were alone, we would just give up. But, it is times like that when everything went wrong, or we are in a state of negativity that we really need other people.
A pattern of the soul is to go along performing deeds which are to one degree or another selfish and adharmic, without the least sense of regret. Kind of stuck in actions that are not right but we are convinced it is just fine, until one day there is a switch in our consciousness. All of a sudden, what we were doing which seemed perfectly okay, now seems terrible. We feel badly. We are not bad, we feel badly.
So we are weighted down by this heavy subconscious feeling. We were going along just fine doing these little things that were wrong and no problem. All of a sudden we say, "These things are wrong. I feel terrible. I am a terrible person. Everyone else is so pure and here I am so impure. Everyone else is so worthy and here I am so unworthy."
We end up in this state of mind which is a reaction, a natural and a healthy reaction. It is our conscience coming through.
Okay, that is good but what is the problem? Well, the false concept is, "We should stay in the mud." Here we are, fallen into the mud of despair and unworthiness and the false concept is, "Well, we should stay there. Because I am a bad person. I am bad, I am unworthy." That is very distinct from, "I have done bad things. I have done unworthy things."
The two are not the same. When we say, "I am the bad person, I am the unworthy person," it sounds like it is unchangeable. We are stuck forever in this condition, it is hopeless.
That is the false concept.
The quote we read on 'Darshana' had a beautiful statement at the end, which I will repeat. "In the Orient, whenever the cloud of despair covers the soul of a devotee, the darshan of a guru is sought. Whenever it becomes difficult to meditate, his grace is hoped for to lift the veil of delusion and release awareness from the darker areas of mind to soar within."
That is the point, that is the correct attitude. We go along, we do something that is not quite right to one degree or another. We react, we say, "I have done the wrong thing."
The correct attitude is to pull ourselves out of that reaction, to purify the mind, to do some penance to make up for the misdeeds in appropriate ways and move on, not get stuck there.
For monastics, the Saivite Shastras gives a very specific pattern to accomplish this, which is the giving of tapas.
I will read from the Saivite Shastras. "Each one given tapas or Mahatapas with no explanation or reason, therefore looked directly at his worldliness and inwardly and up at the glorious Holy Feet of Siva for release. When the grace of release was attained, tapas was lifted. He redyed his orange robes and came forth in the brilliancy of the noon day sun."
So, the point of that quote is not that he stays on tapas forever, right? It does not say that. "When the grace of release was attained, tapas was lifted." The blessings, the darshana we are talking about of the guru or the Deity. When through grace we clear up this condition, it is gone and we move on. That is the point. We are not supposed to sit in this mud puddle, in the mud forever. We are supposed to pull ourselves out of it, through some spiritual practices and move on, a little wiser.
The last quote is from the Tirukural and it gives a very nice insight into the process of tapas. I know some of you look at it as the favorite quote in the chapter on tapas.
"As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliance, so does the burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence."
A little suffering involved, but it is short-lived. You move on and start a new cycle of mistakes. A new cycle of cleaning them up, moving out of them and a new cycle of mistakes and a new cycle of cleaning them up and so forth. The process does not end, the mistakes just get more subtle.
The important point there is, don't get stuck in the mud. Pull yourself out and Gurudeva has given us lots of tools and the focus in his quote of the day was on darshan, the blessings of the Deity and the Guru. How they can be very useful in lifting these conditions and changing one's perspective instantaneously.
Again, that is a beautiful statement, the way Gurudeva puts it. Instead of looking at things from the outside in an external way, in one second your perspective can change. You can look at things from an inner perspective and see how it all fits together and see how it is time to move on.
Aum Namah Sivaya.