Some thirty years ago, my good friend Nayaswami Roma and I decided to run a twenty-six-mile marathon. Neither of us was a particularly great athlete, but we wanted to raise money for the Ananda School, so we took on the challenge and began training for it.
For several months before the event, we ran two miles three times a week, and then early every Saturday morning we’d go for a long run of increasing distance: three miles, then five, seven, ten, twelve, up to twenty miles two weeks before the scheduled run. The following Sundays were often spent dealing with blisters, sore muscles, and exhaustion, but we kept at it.
Finally the day of the “Joyathon” event came. Would we be able to go the distance? To our amazement, we completed the twenty-six miles (don’t ask how many hours it took us), and were able to raise several thousand dollars for the school.
Recently Roma was visiting Ananda Village from Bangalore, India, where she and her husband Nayaswami Haridas lead the Ananda center. Reminiscing about our marathon, we marveled at the determination and will power it took.
We both realized that the physical and mental strength we developed through that effort still remains with us on some level, and can be tapped into whenever we need it. Once you cross a mental barrier of your own untapped potential, you always have access to that portal you opened, giving you strength and confidence in everything you do.
The same is true of our spiritual efforts. Every attempt we make to go deep in meditation when we’re not feeling especially inspired, or to serve others when we’re tired ourselves, or to summon up the right attitude when we’re discouraged, builds a strength that stays with us and can be summoned at will.
Swami Kriyananda wrote a beautiful song called “The Hill That Was Tara,” in which he describes seeing the five-hundred-foot hill where once lived the high kings of Ireland. The concluding verse is:
And I knew in that moment, the deeds that men do
Never die: Each vict’ry is true!
Ev’ry effort we spend
Gives more strength in the end,
Till our gladness in life’s ever new!
Dear friend, remember that every step forward you take on the spiritual path lays a permanent steppingstone to soul freedom. Strength builds strength, will power builds will power, and every little victory leads to final victory.
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