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Why Is Sadhana Difficult?

Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 23:51:03 +0530 To: Subject: Why Is Sadhana Difficult? From: Manomohan Sanyal Baba "A'lo jhariye madhu ks'ariye a'ndha'r sa'riye tumi esecho..." (P.S. 1233) Purport: Baba, You have come and by Your divine advent You are showering effulgence, exuding nectar, and wiping away all darkness. Baba, You have come-- making the flowers blossom & graciously spreading happiness and bliss to one and all. Baba, by Your august arrival everyone's hopes and longings have been fulfilled. Baba, living beings were awakened by the deep yearning and pain of longing in their heart. And with this feeling, in the anticipation & hope of Your coming, they were awake, watching for Your arrival-- constantly looking towards Your path. Baba, this pain and longing of devotees resonated in Your heart and You could no longer remain distant. Baba, You have come and You are graciously pouring the basket of love-- satisfying everyone's heart. The sleeping humanity has gotten new life by Your grace. Baba-- that river which dried up and evaporated, and that song which was lost in the oblivion-- the current of that very river and the tune of those songs You have graciously brought along with You.* Baba due to Your august advent You have inundated each and every heart with the nectar of devotion. This is Your causeless grace... * The inner idea is that when Parama Purusa comes and He saturates the heart with deep devotion, then all those feelings of love and which had dried up start to blossom. In the above song, the river signifies the flow of devotion and the song and melody refers to that subtler expression of devotional feeling.
Namaskar, Everyone in Ananda Marga wants to do sadhana; everyone desires to advance on the path and feel that bliss-- but, as we all know, sadhana is not always easily done. Rather, it is a most challenging endeavour. Theoretically we all understand well that sadhana should be done and even we have the desire and disciple to sit and try, but in the practical approach we encounter so many seen and unforeseen difficulties. The mind wonders; concentration is difficult; there seem to be an endless stream of unwanted thoughts that barrage the mind-- things we were not even thinking of before doing sadhana. Those are some of the mental obstacles. And then of course there are the physical hurdles as well: The knees hurt; the back aches; the body feels hungry etc. Indeed, when tallying it all, there are innumerable psychic and physical barriers that make doing sadhana extremely difficult.
Fortunately for us, by Baba's grace, He has given us a most helpful tool for overcoming these obstacles and making both the body and mind proper instruments for performing sadhana. And that helpful tool which Baba has given is our AM system of asanas. Asanas help calm and control the mind, as well as prepare the body for meditation.
However, of all our AM practices, we can say that asanas may be the most overlooked and disregarded. In our multi-disciplined approach of Ananda Marga, where every Ananda Margii, be they acarya or family person, engages in a grand array of yogic life practices, almost invariably the piece of the puzzle that gets left by the wayside most often is the asana portion-- but often that is the reason why sadhana is so difficult. And that is the irony. All want to do sadhana and feel His bliss, yet it is a difficult endeavour. And the very tool He has given for making sadhana easier, is overlooked in AM.
For instance, if you go to any retreat or any dharmacakra, then surely everyone will do their allotted iishvara pranidhan practice. Some may be extremely sincere and some may be slightly more routinized, but everyone does their first lesson practice-- invariably. And not only that, at retreats there is also scheduled time for doing the various other sadhana lessons as well. In this regard, most are quite faithful and sincerely attend to their tattva dharana, pranayama, dhyana, etc. That is why in Ananda Marga we say that, 'everyone does their sadhana'. Whether their sadhana is rewarding, fulfilling, is a separate point, but most everyone tries. On the point of asanas, however, there is a definite and distinct lapse. Take the following case: At a typical retreat of 150 attendees, 100% will sit and try to do their sadhana, and only a handful will do their prescribed asanas. This dichotomy we have all witnessed, thereby begging the question, 'Why in AM is there such a night and day difference between the number of people practicing sadhana and those doing asanas, do we not realise that asanas are the very tool for allowing us to progress in sadhana?'.
Perhaps, the reason for this strict adherence to sadhana and lack of effort in asanas is because some misunderstand the Supreme Command. Baba outrightly directs us to do sadhana "twice a day regularly". This we have all read and repeated hundreds of times. So, all have deep regard for sadhana, for meditation. But what many do not realise is that when Baba uses the term "sadhana" in the Supreme Command, He is also referring to our asana practice. Because asanas are an inherent part of sadhana; they are part and parcel of sadhana. And that He explains explicitly in Caryacarya; because without asanas one cannot get success in sadhana. But because the 'asana' term is not specifically mentioned in the Supreme Command, many feel 'more relaxed' about doing them, or, more precisely, not doing them. To think like this however is all nothing but one gigantic misnomer. Because in AM, asanas are a vital aspect of sadhana-- they are part of the sadhana term, they are part of our spiritual practice. But this some fail to realise and because asanas are not attended to, many sadhakas in AM suffer and are unable to progress in sadhana. This is the common problem many of us face.
And that is what this entire letter is about: How asanas are an integral and vital part of doing our sadhana, and how without doing asanas regularly then one cannot do proper meditation. So if anyone is experiencing difficulty doing sadhana, or having trouble concentrating, or suffering from a wandering mind, then often the answer lies in the fact that they are not strict in doing asanas.
In today's yoga craze in the general society, they view the yoga postures merely as a medium for improving physical health. This is their limited perspective. The dynamic pathway of Ananda Marga is quite different and unique. Our approach towards asanas is distinctly spiritual in nature. Baba has prescribed only those asanas which bring spiritual benefit to the practitioner, as an aide to help one perform sadhana. Baba says, "A'sanas are not prescribed for the general cure of diseases; only those diseases which create trouble in the path of meditation may be cured by the help of specific a'sanas, so that sa'dhana' may more easily be done." (CC-III, 'Asanas') And here below, in great detail, Baba describes the science behind our asana practice and how doing AM yoga postures helps keep unwanted and crude thoughts from entering the mind, thereby enhancing our sadhana practice. Baba says, "The relation between the physical body and the mind is very close. Mental expression is brought about through the vrttis, and the predominance of the vrttis depends on different glands of the body. There are many glands in the body and from each there is a secretion of a particular hormone. If there is any defect in the secretion of hormones or any defect in a gland, certain vrttis become excited. For this reason, we find that in spite of having a sincere desire to follow the moral code, many persons cannot do so; they understand that they should do meditation, but they cannot concentrate their minds because their minds become extroverted due to the external excitement of this or that propensity. If a person wants to control the excitement of these propensities, he must rectify the defects of the glands. A'sanas help the sa'dhaka to a large extent in this task, so a'sanas are an important part of sa'dhana'." (CC-III, 'Asanas')
Hence in His above teaching, Baba puts forth a number of revolutionary ideas. Firstly, that our minds-- our mental tendencies or vrttis-- are affected by the hormonal secretions of the glands. Secondly, many who wish to do meditation cannot do so due to the improper functioning of the glands which excite certain vrttis, i.e. activate lower mental propensities. Thirdly, the practice of asanas rectifies the glands and balances the hormonal secretions, thus eliminating such disturbances of lowly thoughts from entering the mind. Fourthly, for this reason, asanas are an intrinsic element of sadhana. All these points Baba has given in His above teaching. And the overarching idea is that asanas are for our spiritual growth and development. And without doing asanas, invariably sadhana will seem like one unclimbable mountain. So asanas are intrinsically linked with making the mind calm and cool to immerse oneself in the deep waters of spiritual life. This is an entirely new concept and unique idea which is unknown to the world. Yet this idea Baba has clearly given in our Ananda Marga. Only we have been taught the real inner secret about the value yoga asanas. So as individuals and as a collective body, we should be adamant not to let our days pass us by without doing asanas. And by doing them, our sadhana will be more fruitful.
Here is one more highly interesting point that proves how asanas are an inherent part of our spiritual practices-- and really this teaching should be known to all. And indeed some of you may already be aware about this. Fairly recently, my acarya told me that in the Acarya Diary Baba directs us what to do if uncontrollable circumstances force us to miss our asana practice. Because just last month I had to embark on a three day journey involving buses, trains, and planes, and my Dada was concerned about my asana practice so he told me how to handle the situation if really I was unable to find any time or place to do asanas. Specifically, Baba states that if really we are unable to do asanas then we are to double the number of rounds or trips that we practice in fifth lesson. That means, if due to extraordinary circumstances one cannot do asanas, then they will have to do six full rounds of 5th lesson (Cakra Shodhana). Because in the absence of yoga asanas, then extra effort must be taken to help purify those cakras-- which would be normally cleansed by our yoga postures. That is what my acarya told is Baba's teaching from Acarya Diary. In the same breath, my acarya also warned me that Baba furthermore states that doing double the amount of 5th lesson, in the absence of asanas, will only prevent the degeneration caused by not doing asanas. But 5th lesson cannot make-up for the complete benefits of yoga asanas. So cakra shodhana (5th lesson) eliminates the loss caused from not doing yoga asanas, but it does not give us the gain. All this goes to show how in AM asanas are highly relevant part of our sadhana practice and spiritual development. So we should never underestimate their value.
That is why it is such a tragedy that some or more in AM do not partake in doing yoga asanas regularly. Because to get the benefit of good sadhana, one must practice asanas; but such yoga postures hardly anyone does in AM. And if one does not do asanas, then doing real sadhana is but a dream. One can sit down no doubt and pass the time, but without the support of regular yoga asanas, the human mind will be barraged with an unholy onslaught of crude ideas that will pester the sadhaka to no end, leading one to wonder, 'Will I ever be able to do sadhana?'. And the answer is certainly 'Yes', but only if one becomes regular and sincere in doing asanas.
By Baba's grace, by following our asana practice we will be able to more deeply focus on our sadhana and realise Him. Baba says, "A'sanas control the glands, the glands control the secretion of hormones, and the secretion of hormones controls the propensities. So a'sanas help a sa'dhaka to balance the body and concentrate the mind." (YP, 'Q & A on Meditation') Baba says, "Concentration of mind is...savikalpa sama'dhi, where the only feeling that remains is 'I am That'." (AMEP) Namaskar, Manomohan
To practice AM yoga postures properly, Baba guides us that these following points must be followed: (1) Doing half-bath or full bath before practicing asanas; (2) Doing asanas twice daily on an empty stomach; (3) Using a stop-watch to time the duration of poses; (4) Practiced in a laungota or under garments-- not with full clothing on; (5) Done in sheltered environment that gets sufficient fresh air; (6) Do asanas when left nostril or both nostrils are open; (7) Use a mat or blanket for practicing asanas; (8) Conclude with a self-massage followed by shavasana (corpse posture). All these above points and more Baba discusses in various chapters of Caryacarya part III.
*************************************** Uniqueness of Ta'raka Brahma
Baba says, "A Maha'kaola is one who makes others kaola by his infallible spiritual guidance. But Ta'raka Brahma is a different Entity, a unique Entity for He is the spiritual preceptor, social preceptor, Kaola, and Maha'kaola, all in one. He is also something more: He acts as a compass in every stratum of society." (NKS, '97 Edn, p.50)

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