Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2009-06-01
Avoid jumping from one thing to the next. Have a plan for the week. Create a structure. Challenge, strengthen willpower. Willpower can be wrongly used. "With love in the will, the spirit is free."
This is from yesterday's Merging with Siva lesson: Gaining Self-Control.
"Perhaps the biggest battle in the beginning stages of practicing attention and concentration is the control of breath. The beginner will not want to sit long enough, or not be able to become quiet enough to have a deep, controlled flow of breath. After five minutes, the physical elements of the subconscious mind will become restless. He will want to squirm about. He will sit down to concentrate on the flower and begin thinking of many other things that he should be doing instead: 'I should have done my washing first. I may be staying here for a half an hour. What if I get hungry? Perhaps I should have eaten first.' The telephone may ring, and he will wonder who is calling. 'Maybe I should get up and answer it,' he thinks and then mentally says, 'Let it ring. I'm here to concentrate on the flower.' If he does not succeed immediately, he will rationalize, 'How important can breathing rhythmically be, anyway? I'm breathing all right. This is far too simple to be very important.' He will go through all of this within himself, for this is how he has been accustomed to living in the conscious mind, jumping from one thing to the next.
"When you sit at attention, view all of the distractions that come as you endeavor to concentrate on one single object, such as a flower. This will show you exactly how the conscious and subconscious mind operate. All of the same distractions come in everyday life. If you are a disciplined person, you handle them systematically through the day. If you are undisciplined, you are sporadic in your approach and allow your awareness to become distracted by them haphazardly instead of concentrating on one at a time. Such concerns have been there life after life, year after year. The habit of becoming constantly distracted makes it impossible for you to truly concentrate the mind or to realize anything other than distractions and the desires of the conscious mind itself.
"Even the poor subconscious has a time keeping up with the new programming flowing into it from the experiences our awareness goes through as it travels quickly through the conscious mind in an undisciplined way."
Sounds pretty hopeless, right? We all ready to give up? So, what do we do? How do we get around the problem? The problem, as Gurudeva describes it is: Being "accustomed to living in the conscious mind, jumping from one thing to the next." So, how do we avoid jumping from one thing to the next? We have a plan, intellectual plan. So, this is short term planning, we're not talking three year plan here or something but just the simple idea of planning the week in a general sense or specific sense if there's a lot to do and then planning the day based upon the plan for the week. Sounds simple but it's very effective. And it harnesses the tendency to jump from one thing to the next and that next isn't what you originally intended. It's a distraction of some kind and it, perhaps, it isn't even important. Bunch of e-mails come in that are not urgent and you jump to them instead of doing something that's important. It's very easy to do. Overloaded with data communications these days.
So, having a plan for the week and then setting the days plan based upon that and following it. And if you're going to change the plan, don't do it spontaneously, consciously make a decision. Well, I find I need to change my plan today for this and this reason. Explain it to yourself so you're not just jumping from one thing to the next that you didn't intend to do and at the end of the day you don't have what you needed done, done. This came up in an interesting way. I was talking to a devotee in the Guru Peedam who recently was retired, maybe about a year ago. And she was saying that she was finding she wasn't as productive as she thought she would be. Getting distracted, one thing to another and that kind of dynamism and productivity she had when she was employed, self-employed in her case, wasn't there in retirement. So, I explained this idea of planning. Well, you need to plan each day in a specific way and get your priorities in there. So, it's very interesting how employment or school can take away the need to plan. You know, it structures itself in a certain way. And then, if we're retired or even on a long vacation or summer vacation for school, we're not as structured as we should be because our basic structure of employment or school isn't there that we count on to provide that to us. In the monastery, for example, we have our retreat days. So, during the kulam days the work of the kulam structures our day quite nicely. Whereas, when we have a day off, there's no structure. So, even monastics, on their day off, we need to create a structure. We need to create a plan so that we use our time productively and we challenge our willpower.
As we were talking about on the last Sun 1 Homa Talk, there's a need to use our willpower in outer projects to constantly challenge ourselves and not just coast along and do things in an easy, relaxed way; we want to accomplish a lot. Challenge our willpower. Do something a little more complicated than we think we can do and do it even better than we think we can do it. That's what Gurudeva suggests and that way we're constantly challenging or increasing our willpower. I think it was in yesterday's lesson, also, maybe it's at the end of this one.
"Strengthen the will by using the will."
So, that's the important point. If we don't use it we don't strengthen it. It's comparable to exercising a muscle. The more we exercise the muscle the stronger it becomes. We don't wear it out; we don't use it up. It's the opposite of using something up by using it. Some things you use it up; doing something with it uses it up. But, when you exercise you don't use up the muscle, you strengthen it, you increase it. So, willpower is the same. We don't use it up by exercising it; we increase it.
"Yes, willpower is the key, the must, the most needed faculty for spiritual unfoldment on this path. Work hard, strive to accomplish, strengthen the will by using the will. But remember, 'With love in the will, the spirit is free.' This means that willpower can be used wrongly without the binding softening of love, simple love. Say in your mind to everyone you meet, 'I like you. You like me, I really do like you. I love you. I truly love you.'"
So, the idea that willpower can be wrongly used is the idea of being willful. Anyone who's raised a child knows that experience. Child gets stubborn, wants to do something. Strong will is being expressed, you know, there's a lot of determination there. But, it's willful; it's all self centered. It's not taking into account, the child isn't taking into account the needs and feelings of others. So, we never want to get so pushy in our willpower that we don't take into account the feelings and needs of others and kind of run over them, as an adult or as a child, just challenge them. So, that's what Gurudeva means when he says: "Put love in the will." We recognize the needs and concerns of others and when we push something forward we don't unnecessarily upset them in the process.
Thank you very much. A wonderful phase.
[End of transcript.]