Divine Qualities (Part 21)

Steadfastness (Continued)

Sant Jnaneshvar's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita reveals deeper meanings of steadfastness.

1. Steadfastness signifies a mind that is undisturbed by physical activity.

A steadfast seeker remains calm even when his body is active. He monitors distractions and immediately brings his mind back to the task in hand or the object of meditation. Steadfastness and alertness result from long practice and detachment from anything that might weaken the mind. Says Swami Vivekananda, "Here is the test of truth-anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it, it cannot be true." A steadfast mind helps us remain one-pointed in our spiritual quest. The face is the mirror of the mind. In the words of Swami Turiyananda, "One test of steadfastness of mind is the steadiness of look. As soon as the mind gets steady, the look also gets steady. No more is there any restiveness in one's look and movements." An uncontrolled mind, on the other hand, is restless by nature, fickle, and obstinate. It randomly dwells on the past or future, but rarely on the present. Reveling in fantasies and daydreams, it dissipates our precious energy, robs us of the power of discrimination, weakens our will, and is unable to concentrate on anything noble and helpful to spiritual life. Such restlessness of mind creates restlessness of the body. No quality work can be expected of such a wayward mind.

2. A steadfast seeker is not distressed by calamities and miseries.

The world is characterized by dualities: pleasure and pain, praise and blame, success and failure, and so on. They always come in pairs. Says Swami Vivekananda, "Happiness presents itself before man wearing the crown of sorrow on its head. He who welcomes it must also welcome sorrow." A steadfast seeker is aware of this truth. He looks upon calamities and miseries as occasions to turn to God in prayer for devotion and the strength to bear them. In truth, growing in devotion to God is the sole gain from miseries and calamities. The Pandavas' noble mother Kunti braved innumerable ordeals in her life. Here is her unique supplication to Sri Krishna: "O World Teacher! May disasters befall us always at every stage. For it is in such situations that we feel your presence, a vision that bestows freedom from rebirth." (Bhagavata, 1.8.25) Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi teaches: "Misery is truly a gift of God. I believe it is a symbol of His compassion."

3. A steadfast mind is not distressed by wants.

Needs differ from wants. Needs may be minimum, whereas wants could be almost infinite, as dictated by greed. A steadfast seeker goes about his duties and responsibilities with a calm mind, looking upon work as worship. By offering work and its fruit to God, he gradually realizes that work is done through him, not by him, and he gives up attachment to the results of action. He practices contentment and lives with the conviction that God will grant him whatever he needs.

Part 22

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