Avoiding incoherent nibbling on the spiritual path (II)
by Maxim Hongell
Read the first part of the article
Embracing divine motives of practice
The inferior mind will try to run wild because it is interested in many things in a superficial way. However, we can counteract this by having discernment, that is, having a clear vision of the next proper move on our path. For example, in a particular situation we may have the idea that we want to open and free our heart. But then we notice that for the moment our capacity of concentration is weak. Applying our divine capacity of discernment on this observation, we may draw the conclusion that we need to gain some mental discipline before opening the heart. Without mental control the mind will just constantly interrupt the process of centering into the heart.
So discernment is crucial for success in spiritual practice. If we lack discernment and thus fail to be aware of the steps necessary for reaching our goals, we may behave in counterproductive ways. In the given example, we might have the idea that we want to open our heart but at the same time, without being aware of it, we let the inferior mind run “free”. This might lead to a situation where we think that we are following the voice of the heart, while in reality we are following the impulses of our mind according to our predominant level of vibration. Thus we would not reach the transformation that we aimed for.
So it is helpful on the path to be aware that the actions we choose hastily might become merely entertainment and a goal in themselves. But when we know the correct “next step”, when we choose the actions that we really need at that moment in order to transform ourselves, and when we remember to do them for God, then we already have some firm ground under our feet. In this way our actions are coherent and do not deviate from the initial purpose of the spiritual path.
Sometimes we might also get so caught up in our actions and techniques that we start to consider them as goals in themselves without remembering why we engaged in them. But in reality they always represent a means to an end. Yet even if they are “only” tools on our spiritual path, it is very good to learn to enjoy what we do, because enjoyment can also be used as a tool. Enjoying the states that the practice offers empowers the effects of the techniques and actions and gives enthusiasm and aspiration. In this way we can avoid nibbling by maintaining an attitude that keeps us continuing the practice that we started. We can combine enjoyment with the purpose in a playful way and easily persuade the inferior mind to follow us towards the Ultimate.
For example we will get much better results from nauli kriya if we do not perform them mechanically, one after the other, at the same time as our mind is thinking: “oh God, still forty to go”. Instead we can aim to be in the present moment and to feel very accurately the enjoyable states that the practice of nauli kriya can offer us through the transmutation and sublimation processes.
At the same time we should keep the goal in mind so that we do not start to make the practice and actions exclusively to have a pleasurable state or to subconsciously feed some superficial interests of our inferior mind. This could make us drop the practice and change to something else before having significant results. In order to maintain the aspiration we should always deepen the experiences in a divine way and remember to do what we do for that one goal, the Divine. So we keep on walking the path but instead of it being an exhausting crawl through the desert, we can make it a beautiful tour through our life.
The great puzzle of life
The better we can focus and concentrate mentally the less scattered our inferior mind will be. But this means that we have to be able to focus also outside of the practice. When we can stay more and more focused, we will also notice with amazement that we start to be aware of more and more aspects of our life as our consciousness expands. In this way we can develop a firm grasp upon what we are doing and the reason for why we are doing it, and it is easier to notice our own motives.
We cease to run blindly in all kind of directions that our inferior mind or outer impulses suggest to us. We might for example become aware of some hidden attitudes of “doing that what everybody is doing” and practicing something just because it is a commonly used practice.
We may realize that at the moment we do not benefit so much from this particular practice and that we should choose some other one. Or we might be involved in some actions, even if they do not feel right at the moment, just because someone assumes that we should do this. Or we do a tapas to obtain a certain skill just for the ego to feel great about the achievement. Sometimes there might appear even a greater confusion in the mind, and the amount of actions that we start might exceed the capacity of our consciousness to expand in order to embrace all those actions. Then we would lose our capacity of discernment and the understanding of the necessity of the moment, and we would end up in nibbling incoherently.
For a better comprehension of what was explained above we can use the analogy of a puzzle. In this case the frame of the puzzle is our sphere of consciousness and the actions that we perform are the pieces. When we nibble with the pieces, it is as if we pick them up, look at them, roll them around in our hands and then put them back on the table. After this we pick up another piece without actually putting any pieces into the frame in order to create a picture.
We might also put pieces into the frame, but if the inferior mind takes over, then we act in a superficial way and we do not connect the pieces to the great whole of our life and we do not remember the beautiful picture that is supposed to be created inside the frame. In this case we put the pieces into the frame in a random order without considering if they are going to their right places. In other words, we do things without seeing their true meaning, we only foggily remember that we are doing them for the Divine.
In this way we cannot create a coherent picture but the result will be a mess of pieces. This kind of nibbling might eventually turn into exceeding the capacity to include actions properly into the sphere of consciousness. In this situation we put more pieces into the frame than there would fit. Then they overflow out from the frame in a scattered way. In other words we start many actions but we execute them only for a while and then jump to something else.
Fortunately the frame can be expanded and the picture can contain more and more pieces and become more and more beautiful. In order to achieve this we have to integrate every piece into the picture or, in other words, we have to know why we are doing the things that we do and continue doing them until the end so that we are able to embrace them fully with our consciousness that expands along them.
When we aim to expand the frame it is good to do it in a balanced way by gradually overcoming our limits. Thus we should not take up too many projects and actions at the same time. As they say, Rome was not built overnight. It is easy to do too little or too much all the time but it is like walking on a fine string when balancing between these two opposites. Yet it is something we all can learn by being very attentive to ourselves. In this way we can have a harmonious and coherent evolution and expansion of the frame of our consciousness.
If we do too many things compared with our ability to embrace them with our consciousness, our minds become scattered. Even if from the beginning we did all of our actions in a coherent way there is still the danger of pushing our limits too fast and we might end up in incoherent nibbling. This happens because the actions and things that we cannot integrate into the picture become the pieces that we just lift up and put back on the table or put them randomly into the frame where they do not find their proper places or they overflow because of not fitting there.
Those actions will become something that remain only momentarily in our sphere of inferior mind instead of becoming Divine means to reach something Godly that in its turn would lead to sustained results and transformation. But this is avoidable by fully embracing all the actions with our consciousness and by remaining attentive in the present moment while doing them.
It helps when we do not think about other things while doing the present thing and by getting rid of any kind of hurrying that we might indulge ourselves into in order to get the present thing done in order to start the next one. Instead we can cultivate a peaceful and relaxed, yet extremely attentive, attitude so that we can see the end of the actions and tie them to the string of our path. And in the end of that string it is always God watching over us and supporting us.
Read also the third part of the article.