This morning Devi and I spoke with someone who was feeling overwhelmed and a little guilty because he couldn’t keep up with all the “should do’s” on the spiritual path. I doubt if there is a devotee alive who hasn’t had these same thoughts. On the one hand, there are hundreds of techniques, habits, and attitudes that could be helpful. On the other hand, we have to face the reality of living in this world with multiple responsibilities and limited time.

How to improve on the spiritual path when you feel you don't have time or energy to keep going. #Yogananda

“Who Tells Me Thou Art Dark?” by Nayaswami Jyotish

Paramhansa Yogananda presented us with a great variety of teachings and techniques. Because of his great magnetism and enthusiasm, they all seem to be good, and many essential in the quest for Self-realization. Yet he also said, “If you do one one-hundredth of what I suggest, you will find God.” This is so reassuring. It keeps us from feeling so inundated or overwhelmed that we just give up.

A friend recently shared something that can help us keep moving ahead. He said that some years ago the British national cycling team wanted to improve their world ranking. They hoped to become the top team within five years. The coach came upon this solution: We will improve everything we do by at least 1%. They looked at their equipment: bikes, wheels, helmets, and other gear. They reexamined their training, diet, and even got better pillows. They revised their racing strategies, and . . . well, you get the point. They did not achieve the goal of being the best in the world in five years. It took them only three.

If we apply this strategy to our spiritual practices, it will yield great results. First try to optimize some easily changed physical areas such as your meditation room, altar, meditation seat, malas, and other equipment. Improving some of these things may take very little effort and, once done, won’t need more attention. Try to improve every little thing you can think of by at least 1%.

Then move on to important habits such as regular meditation times and length, good posture, diaphragmatic breathing, starting each meditation with deep relaxation and concentration, and ending with a sense of expansion and joy. These may take more effort to improve, and will need to be revisited regularly. But, here again, if success is judged by making only small improvements, it can be accomplished relatively easily.

Finally, let’s look at the really important things: deep devotion, faith, non-attachment, and surrender of self-will to God’s will. These are the areas that bring Self-realization. They are also places where the 1% solution can make a big difference. If we just keep taking a step at a time we will eventually arrive at our goal. As the great householder avatar Lahiri Mahasaya said, “Banat, banat, ban jai! Doing, doing, one day done!”

In celebration of little steps,

Nayaswami Jyotish

26 Comments

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    1. Money? Is that what need. The solution is easy. Find a job and you can earn money. It this Universe there is a law, it is not bound by conditions or ideals. It is simply a reflection of the movement of our lives. /for instance; work requires effort, and effort applied is an energy which is reflected back to its source. It can be reflected back as money if it is expressed as work at a particular place. No effort does not have anything to reflect back to us. Like a person who has expired. Nothing is going on with them because their bodies are still and do nothing that can be reflected back to them. See that your hardship may be the result of your lack of putting forth effort. This way you will realize that you are the only one responsible for this condition of hardship. Now that you know you are responsible for your hardship, you know that only you have the power to move out of it. Break out of this prison you have constructed for yourself. Only you know its weak points. I apologize, for I may be blindly touching a small part of an elephant and not understand entirely your predicament.

  1. THANK YOU FOR YOURS INSPIRATION WORLDS. IN YHIS MOMENTS ARE LIKE MEDICINE TO MY BRAIN AND HEART. I AM LOOKING FOR A CHANGE IN MY PSPIRITUAL PRACTICE.

    1. Daniel. There was once an ox in a field that smelled another ox nearby, so it went to look for this other ox. He roamed for miles and miles following the scent of this ox, but never being able to find it. Until he realized that he was the ox he was smelling. I would encourage you to sit and be still. Clear your mind of all thought and allow the Consciousness to move into your mind. Daily submit your thinking to divine Consciousness and witness the evolution of your true Self bring change into your present existence.
      this is no need to look for change. The change is already in you.

  2. Caro Jotish , i was born on september 26 and the only way i know to learn something is to practise it. I love so much Lahiri for his umility , so when i wrong i say to myself : don’t worry bit please don’t stop to try your best!
    Thanks for your inspiring sharings and ne patient with my english! Jay Guru!

  3. Fantastic article – Jai guru!

    Blessings to you and Devi on your travels. We all look forward to your return =)

  4. Blessings and Joy Great Souls. Jyotish, this message is most timely. It seems that Sadha Sati is quite present and strong these past several weeks and niggling doubts, then, tend to creep in and challenge my ‘bubble of JOY’. “I -y caan live with that”, per Swami’s quote from a lecture attendee in Australia, some years ago. I want to do more than live with it, I want to move beyond and through the challenges of this world to the JOY of GOD and GURU. Thank you for the reminder: AUM TAT SAT. In Divine Gratitude, steve (navi)

  5. I actually often feel it is easiest to start with number three! Addressing this can give me the incentive to move on to the other categories.

  6. In the words of Kris Kringle to the Winter Warlock… “Put one foot in front of the other…”
    1% is better than 0%… Keep going!!!
    Jai Guru!!

    Thanks Jyotish.

  7. A very inspiring and welcome article! Thank you, Jyotish. It recalled a time when I felt downcast over my ability to go deep with Hong-Sau. I offered my sadness to Swamiji, and that night I had a dream. I was walking on a sandy path with Swamiji and a group of fellow male disciples. I sensed that they were all good, sincere people, and I was heartened to be among them. In the dream, I mentally offered my quandary to Swamiji, accompanied by the feelings of inadequacy and sadness. He turned to me and said, “Take one small step at a time.” And there the dream ended. In my life (I’m 73), I’ve seen that small steps have magical power. Relationships are created 10 minutes at a time. Fitness is attained most healthily and reliably by improving in tiny increments. And, as Swami said to me in the dream, our service, attitudes, and meditation can be improved by taking “one small step at a time.”

  8. Dear Ones – at present I am in the space I refer to as “between trapeze bars”. Divine Spirit is bringing me into a new alignment. In other words I am being rewired. Although I have been over this bridge many, many times over the years and deep inside myself, I know, I KNOW — this is part of the path — the undoing — I can get “UNCOMFORTABLE’ (to say the lease) in the middle – while constantly reminding myself that this is the LOVE of the great ones in action — rewiring and refining me.

    I sorta’ think of it as getting the wheels of my car aligned. Before alignment — my path is crooked and I’m sliding all over the road. During alignment – my vehicle is up on the rack – and I can’t go anywhere – despite wanting to escape the discomfort. Afterward – life will be — always is easier — I can stay on the road – with ease. I reach the other side of the transformational bridge, the sun seems brighter, and the next trapeze bar is firmly in my grasp.

    However — today — is where your sweet morning message reminded me to let go, to trust this purification process, be grateful for it and
    turn to others’ sweet words of RE-MINDING and SUPPORT, remembering that in c. 3 days I will be resurrected in a new form — way better than the past.

    Thanks for all you do – for being a constant reminder.

    Beautiful fall morning to you both —
    Marcela

  9. I don’t normally post comments but I felt I must after reading this. I easily get overwhelmed but reading the concept of 1% has really helped by breaking down self realization into manageable chunks.

  10. Just what the Doctor ordered, Jyotish! Will share this with many. Thank you. Love and blessings to you and Devi.

  11. Thank you so much for these encouraging words.
    I have been agonising for weeks over getting everything spot on.
    Even though I was struggling, I knew that Master wanted me to continue.
    You have answered my questions.
    Thank you from my heart
    Linden

  12. Dear Ji’

    Thanks for reminding , Encouraging one to stay in the Path throughout.
    With Gratitude
    R Sundararajan

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