Nayaswami Seva

How to Stay on the Path: Perseverance (Part 1 of 4)

Aug 01, 2022

by Nayaswami Dharmadevi

When our friend Brahmachari Aditya was visiting from India recently, he shared with us an inspiring story. He had asked Nayaswami Seva, “How do we stay on the spiritual path for life?” She offered 4 simple and powerful pearls of wisdom:

1. Perseverance

Let’s look more closely at what it means to persevere on the spiritual path. Paramhansa Yogananda would use the following analogy to encourage disciples on the path.

Fighter A and Fighter B are evenly matched, they have been going at it for a very long time. Both are completely exhausted and ready to give up. But Fighter A says, “I will just throw one more punch” and down goes Fighter B. “Be like Fighter A,” Yogananda would say.

In a letter to a disciple, Yoganandaji stressed the importance of perseverance. “So, do not become discouraged and tired, but ever be interested in working for Divine Mother no matter if war, sickness, death dances around you. Be cut to pieces but never give up. Be like the Divine Leech—suck at the blood of wisdom even though torn to bits. A smooth life is not a victorious life—and I will give you lots of my good karma, so you will get through. I will not only ever forgive you, but ever lift you up, no matter how many times you fall.”

The spiritual path is a long-distance race. It takes everything we’ve got… and then some! The scriptures tell us that God will take everything from us. We can look at this in two ways - the first is, “Oh no! Divine Mother is going to take all of my beloved possessions, my loved ones, my personality, everything that makes me, me!” The other way to look at it is that She takes away all of our littleness, our griefs, our attachments, our desires, and fears, until all that is left is God alone.

The spiritual path, just like the Divine, is ever-new. We can see it as ever new hardships, ever new tragedies, or ever new joy. The choice is actually ours in this very moment. We don’t become enlightened and then start seeing everything as a blessing. We have to see our obstacles as opportunities, and feel God’s love in everything and everyone, and then enlightenment comes. It is by our self-effort to raise our consciousness to God’s level that She showers Her grace upon us. And by Her grace we reach the heights.

I’d like to close this segment of How to Stay on the Path with Paramhansa Yogananda’s poem from Metaphysical Meditations:

In the corner of my heart I have a mystic throne for Thee. The candles of my joys are dimly lighted in the hope of Thy coming. They will burn brighter when Thou appearest. Whether Thou comest or not, I will wait for Thee until my tears melt away all material grossness.

To please Thee my love‑ perfumed tears will wash Thy feet of silence. The altar of my soul will be kept empty until Thou comest.

I will talk not; I will ask naught of Thee. I will wait, realizing that Thou knowest the pangs of my heart while I wait for Thee.

Will that day dawn for me, O Divine Mother, when the utterance of Thy name will cause a flood of tears that will inundate the drought of my heart and burst open the dark gates of my ignorance?