The Difficulties of the Spiritual Seeker : 5.

Thus, Arjuna was confounded, as any one of us can be. In this adventure of spiritual life, which is metaphorically presented before us in the form of the Mahabharata, we are likely to be faced with certain doubts and difficulties. While in the earlier stages it may appear that the whole sky is very clear, when you move onwards you'll find that heavy, thick clouds are hanging above your heads, and there is darkness in the front. This is the darkness of the spiritual aspiration. The first chapter of the Bhagavadgita is a chapter of sorrow of the seeker – Arjuna Vishada Yoga. It is the weeping of the seeking individual. However, you will be surprised to note that the colophon or the concluding line of the first chapter is designated Arjuna Vishada Yoga. It is a yoga, and not merely a weeping after a bereavement or a loss. A crying and a weeping, despondency and a melancholy mood cannot be called yoga in any sense of the term. A confounding of the mind is not yoga; but the Bhagavadgita ends with this term 'yoga' even in regard to the first chapter, which is nothing but the weeping of Arjuna and a presentation of various kinds of doubts and difficulties which seem to harass his mind. Why is it called yoga? Why is such a sanctified name attached to this melancholy chapter, the first one in the Bhagavadgita? This is something which is important for us to understand. You know medical men give vaccination to prevent you from having an illness, and you are in a state of temporary illness after the vaccination. If you are given an anti-illness injection, that injection itself will produce a sort of illness. Notwithstanding the fact that the inoculation or the vaccination produces a sort of sure temperature or illness in your body, it has to be considered a process of cure and it is not to be considered an illness really in the true sense of the term – otherwise, you would have had a real illness which would have been more devastating.

The complacency of a happy person in this world is really a danger to the individual. This was the complacency of Arjuna and the foolhardy heroism that he manifested before he entered the battlefield. A person who may be appearing to be healthy and very pleasant in his life may be attacked by an epidemic tomorrow, and this possibility cannot be prevented merely by a precedent happiness a day earlier. The tentative illness that you seem to be in, psychologically, when you tread the path of yoga is the one in which many of us find ourselves – a sense of having lost oneself and a feeling that one does not know where one is standing, which feeling you would not have had before you took to the spiritual way of living or the path of yoga. People are happy in this world. They are travelling all directions and eat well, sleep well, they go to clubs – there is no trouble with anybody in the world. But the trouble arises the moment you turn to the spirit and take to a religious life or what you call yoga. You are confounded in a new manner altogether, a confusion which might not have presented itself before you when you were a happy bird in the free world outside. Why is this? How are you going to explain this new difficulty that you are facing when you are moving in the direction of God, even if you are to be honest in this pursuit? Every spiritual seeker may be said to be uniformly in this condition of difficulty – a kind of reaction that is set up by the very idea of taking to yoga.

Swami Krishnananda

To be continued ...

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