In the Light of ...|Mar 2, 2006 8:05 AM| by:

Sharing Difficulties in Yoga

In life, and even more in the path of yoga, we are naturally confronted with outer and inner difficulties. We feel the need of a support, a person with whom we can discuss and share our problems, take advice and help. But we also ask ourselves is this right, are we being sincere, should we not seek our support in the Divine alone?

It is in this context that we have taken as our question:

Question : Should one share one’s difficulty with another in Yoga?

We give below an answer where an attempt has been made to look at the issue in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

In yoga, especially in those forms of yoga where surrender is a key movement, we are called upon to seek our support and everything else in the Divine alone. So the question naturally arises, – should one share one’s difficulties with another while on the path of yoga? One could also take up as a related issue, – should one use any outer means at all, whether men or medicines, once one has set his feet towards the Divine? Well, the simplest answer could be that it depends upon the persons (the one who is sharing and the one with whom it is being shared) as well as the nature of the difficulty.

For there are different types of humanity that turns to yoga, each with its own unique constitution. And also there are different stages in our journey from the utter night of ignorance and darkness to the first glimmer of dawn and subsequently the blazing high noon of truth. There is also a whole range of humanity from those who rush to seek outward help at the slightest pretext to those who can face even disaster and death with a smile upon their lips and hope within their hearts. It is evident that the highest attitude in all this range is the one that stems from the deepest and fullest surrender. It is contained in the well-known mantra: “Let Thy will be done”. But it is equally true that few can take and keep this attitude in any fullness, especially when they are going through moments of deep crisis. And while the attitude of total surrender is perfect if true and genuine, yet it may stand in the way if our hearts are full of anxiety and fear while our lips are mechanically praying. There is nothing wrong if at such a moment we seek a temporary support outside and with another person. It may even be useful and necessary since by restoring back our faith it may actually facilitate the working of Grace in our life. Take for example someone who is ill. And the illness is of a fairly severe or even a moderate degree. Now, this person may not take medicine or go to a physician because of a rigid mental rule that he is supposed to get cured of the illness through inner means. In principle and theory it is true. But yoga is not theory and philosophy but practical psychology. Thus, he may not be able to make the right inner movements to effectuate cure by inner means. Or else, a part of his nature, say the mind and the higher vital may have faith and respond but the lower vital may resist or else the body may be unreceptive and the subconscient refuse to admit the Light. It is this inherent complexity of human nature that makes any generalisation or fixing of any rigid formula of practise as an inflexible rule for all, an impossibility.

If this is true of physical difficulties and ailments it is even more true of the psychological ones. This is so because while with physical difficulties the mind is able to see them objectively and itself being untouched able to summon the right movement from other parts of the being (if it knows how to do it of course), but if the mind itself is the seat of the difficulty it is very difficult to objectively see the problem in its right measure (unless the psychic consciousness and the inner being is sufficiently developed) and unable therefore to make the right response. Often in fact it colludes with the forces of disorder and disruption and considering the large role it still plays in human evolution in its present stage, it is better and saner to take heed of someone who can observe impartially and advice wisely.

Yet the principle of surrender stands. So how are we to resolve this contradiction. Here again the key-word is the attitude and the inner spirit with which we share or seek outward help. Thus, even while we share with another and naturally feel a genuine good will and gratitude for the help and support received yet must we always know that the outer means or another person was as much an instrument of the Divine and part of His grand design in the secret Providence of things just as our ‘own’ will and faith are instruments for the Divine’s working in us and for others. Some people are emotionally stronger and their faith solid as a rock. Some have a deep mental clarity as a gift of God or an intelligence that can receive intuitive inspirations. Yet others have a capacity for knowing and manipulating occult and hidden forces. Still others have made a detailed study of the physical body and its reactions and responses to various chemicals and other forces. Then there are those who are like large emotional reservoirs and can lend an ear without judgement or reservations to others and thereby help in unburdening them. Finally, there are the rare few who are open to higher domains of Truth and are channels of Light. Each of these faculties and capacities that a human being innately has and develops are nothing else but gifts of Grace. And they are meant to be placed at the Divine service. Of course much of humanity does not so understand it and takes it all as his own, – not only inner psychological qualities but also more outward possessions like wealth and position. Nevertheless, the subtle and deeper truth is that they have been given to us and we are simply trustees and not their proud possessors. So, even when we go to someone and share or seek support and help or use outer means and aids, we must know and do it in the full awareness that it is the Divine who alone is working and helping through all these different channels and instruments. Equally, whether we use inner means or outer or both, we must leave the final result in the hands of the Divine who may choose to give a particular fruit of our and other’s efforts or withhold it or give it in His own time and in His own way.

If we do things in this spirit then it does not contradict in any way the spirit of consecration and entire dependence upon the Divine. If anything, it widens our field of consecration and our notion of the Divine who is not only the inner divinity seated in our heart but also in everyone else as well; who not only transcends the universe but also enters into, conducts and guides its million processes; who is not only within as a secret Presence but who has also become this outer world that is nothing else but His mask and His veiled figures and His works and His instruments. What we have to however avoid is all clinging of a vital-sentimental nature, craving for emotional returns, passion and possessiveness in our relationship of sharing. These things can and do often naturally arise when people share their difficulties with another, – a phenomenon well known to modern psychology as ‘transference’. This not only distracts and disturbs our sadhana and comes in the way of the full action of the Grace but it has also the potential of seriously diverting us from the path into by-lanes of an intermediate vital world or the valley of false glimmers. It is because of this risk that one is advised abundant care and caution since such things can creep in like a slow miasma even through a vigilant eye and one may notice them only when the involvement has gone too far and too deep. No doubt a central sincerity and childlike trust in Grace pulls us out but leaves a trail of suffering in the process.

Finally, it is understood that not all difficulties can be shared by everyone. This is true even in ordinary life. In those who take up yoga, the problem gets somewhat more complicated. New forces come into play, new possibilities and new problems come up, difficulties assume a different character and dimension. This is especially so in Integral yoga where little by little the entire nature is taken up for the action and working of a transformative Light. This throws up many things including deep-seated, and neatly hidden resistances. These have to be worked out and worked through and the quick-fix solutions do not often work. There is much trial and error, fall and rise, crisis and change, all as part of the purification process so that the whole nature may turn to the Divine and undergo the needed transformation. Not all are in sympathy with this ideal or have any direct experience of the process. Few have lasting access to the means of help such as the psychic emergence or a deeper and higher opening to Light and Grace that a growth in sincerity and aspiration can bring to us. Therefore to seek advice from just anyone simply because one is emotionally attached to someone or has an intellectual reverence for him may not always be the right thing to do. Especially, one should be careful not to mix spiritual influences of different kinds or blindly resort to a new method that has a wide public appeal and is in fashion. Some of these methods and influences, even though branded ‘spiritual’ and ‘yogic’ may be contrary to the line of sadhana one has undertaken. Such things often produce more confusion than clarity, often delay and postpone rather than hasten the transformative process. If one has a strong need to share the difficulties it is any day better to share them with someone who has been steadily walking on the same path, who has grown wiser by experience, is full of genuine good will for all and above all is widely open to Light and Grace.

This is as far as we can discuss it mentally and experientially. In the last analysis, it is impossible to lay down any inflexible external rule that can be applied universally and in all circumstances. Each case is different, each person is unique, each one stands on a different level and has his or her own unparalleled past and an equally different destiny and future. So also the means and processes will vary as one moves through the upward spiral of yoga. Nevertheless, whatever be the outer means or aids, whoever be the person through whom we may feel supported or helped, we must never forget that it is Grace that is carrying us through all this since Grace alone and no human agency alone can carry us through the difficult and even at times dangerous journey of yoga. To take with natural ease and childlike trust and simplicity whatever comes our way to facilitate our journey is itself a form of plasticity to Grace. To feel a constant gratitude towards the Grace in our hearts in all events and circumstances is the sure and sunlit path to surmount every obstacle and difficulty.



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