Divine Qualities (Part 22)

Steadfastness (Continued)

We examine more implications of steadfastness from Sant Jnaneshvar's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

4. A steadfast seeker is not troubled by fear.

Fear is an emotion common to humans and animals. While there are rational fears that are prompted by uncertainties, there are also irrational fears that can weaken us, leaving indelible scars on our mind. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad teaches that fear arises from a sense of duality (1.4.2) and that true fearlessness is a result of Self-realization, the state of oneness with the nondual Reality (4.2.4). A seeker steadfast in devotion to his spiritual ideal develops strong conviction in the protecting power of God. He offers God all actions and their fruits, gives up the sense of agency, and remains content. He accepts whatever happens to him as the will of God, so he has no fear or anxiety. Says Swami Ramakrishnananda, "Actually very few of us believe in God all the time. How do we know this? Because we allow anxieties and fears to arise in our minds. If we really have faith in God and in His infinite power of goodness, we can never feel fearful about anything."

5. A steadfast seeker does not lose his mental balance when tormented by inordinate hopes, vexations, old age or disease.

Inordinate hopes and vexations affect one who relies on his little ego and his self-centered efforts. But a seeker steadfast in prayer and meditation is free from vexations of any kind. His dependence on God in all circumstances serves as a bulwark against all afflictions. The ignorant think that they are the body and look upon it as a means of enjoyment. They do not reflect upon the six characteristics that define the body: birth, objective existence, growth, transformation, decay, and death. Of these, transformation and decay imply old age and disease. A steadfast seeker knows that he is not the body but the being who dwells in it. The body is a fragile but precious instrument with which to practice spiritual disciplines. He strives to keep his mind on God and grow in detachment from the body and its destiny, and tries to live up to Sri Ramakrishna's teaching: "May the body and pain take care of themselves; O mind, dwell forever in God's Bliss."

6. The mind of a steadfast seeker does not vacillate when faced with abuse, dishonor or punishment.

The puny, "unripe ego" has given place to the "ripe ego" of a steadfast seeker, with which he looks upon God as the whole and himself as a part. So his mind is not affected by abuse, dishonor, or punishment. Sri Chaitanya describes the ideal devotee in Shikshashtakam (3): "A devotee who worships Lord Hari is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing and patient than a tree [even when it is cut down], does not care whether others respect him, but treats others with respect and honor." Such a devotee is unaffected by praise and blame, and offers both to God. He has the unshakeable faith that God always does what is good for him.

7. The mind of a steadfast seeker is not disturbed by waves of passion.

According to a well-known Indian saying, "Where God is, there can be no desires; where there are desires, God cannot be realized." Desires lose their hold on a seeker whose devotion has become ripe. His will is no longer under the sway of desires, but is influenced and energized by the supreme Spirit. There is a deep and abiding calm in the heart of a seeker free from desires and devoted to God. According to the Bhagavad Gita (2.70), "Not the desirer of desires attains peace, but he into whom all desires enter as the waters enter the ocean, which is full to the brim and grounded in stillness."

Part 23

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