The Art of Introspection for
by Brother Bhumananda
Excerpts from a talk at 2010 Convocation, August 10, 2010
The Love of God Pulls us to Spirit
The Journey to Self-Realization: describes the life we embrace as devotees to God. To understand the purpose of life every devotee should memorize the poem “Samadhi”. (It can be found in Chapter 14 of The Autobiography of a Yogi.) We realize we can have this experience if we persevere. Tremendous effort is needed to find God.
Meditation techniques are powerful tools that transform our consciousness. The love of God pulls us to spirit. Maya pulls us down. To reach God we have to constantly pull against Maya. Conquer the lower self so you can free the higher self. Sometimes it feels like we have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. It’s hard not to give into maya. We want so much to do the right thing, but in this creation of duality it’s all too easy to pick the lower choices. The battle of Kurukshetra is symbolic of the inner battle that we go through every day. We are blind to our divine nature—our connection to God. Sense tendencies: anger, greed, selfishness, and self-centeredness: all these bring us down. Virtues of the soul are calmness, righteousness and self-control.
We don’t see ourselves as we truly are because we identify with our faults. The poet Robert Burns: “O to see ourselves as others see us.” Each day we consult our sanjaya, our good and bad tendencies, and we see who has won the battle—good or bad. The ability to stand aside and judge accurately—this is introspection. As a new postulant, Brother spent time at the end of each day to see if he had gone more into ego or did he grow closer to God. Guruji says keep a diary of your spiritual life. We need divine insight and introspection.
An effective way to pull yourself out of a spiritual lethargy is to ask yourself key questions:
Did you do all the techniques?
Did you sit in silence?
How deep did you go?
Keep track of your attitude and ask yourself: “how did I do today?”
Am I feeling closer to God?
What bad habits are pulling me?
Why am I here?
What is the purpose of life?
Am I feeling greater spiritual attunement with the Guru?
What bad habit is troubling me the most?
What good habit am I trying to develop?
Each day, do I thank Divine Mother for Her blessings?
Do I meditate and try to seek God with enthusiasm
regardless of any tests?
Make sure meditation doesn’t become habitual and absent-minded. Have a constant awareness—think of when you drive—you keep your eyes on the road and focus all the time. In introspection when you find a bad habit look to Master’s teachings for help in finding a way to that bad habit into a good habit. Do a check-up on your spiritual, physical and mental routines during the day. If we’re fearful we need to build upon courage. Every conceivable subject we need is in the lessons.
Pitfall—when you see something about yourself that you don’t like, don’t stop there. Make it a point to cultivate the opposite good habit. Repeat the good habit. Read the teachings to understand the habit. Have a battle plan to get closer to God.
We all struggle with moodiness. When it comes to moodiness first ask yourself why you are moody? We have to understand. Ask God and Guru to help you understand. Pray and ask “Lord, make my understanding the Temple of thy guidance.” God beings to speak to us through the sweet whispers of intuition. Secondly ask yourself: “How am I living?” If we’re always in a mood then maybe there a problem with how we’re living. We punish ourselves with our moodiness.
The breaking of the Ten Commandments (or as Guruji likes to call the them the “10 eternal rules of happiness”) is the source of all the misery of the world. Look at sex symbols—most of them have unhappy lives. Sex, sex, sex doesn’t make you happy. If we abuse sex or any of the senses the price is too great to pay. Yoga looks at sex in a scientific way—look at and use senses in meditation. Self-control leads to happiness.
Break Moods by Positive Thinking
Cultivate positive thinking. Things are neutral. It’s our thoughts that make us see things as good or bad. Master says “Change your thoughts if you wish to change your circumstances.” Sometimes it’s hard to control the thoughts directly, so start doing something for someone else—get out of me, me, me, me—get out of the little self. Try to make others happy and your own cup of happiness will overflow. Brother’s struggle his first year in the Ashram was restlessness. Sundays were the days of silence and that was the day the negative thoughts came in. The next time you don’t feel good do something good for someone else—do something for God and Guru. Developing creative thinking also helps overcome moods. Make a list of moodbusters. Don’t’ be passive. That’s when you get dragged down. Sometimes you do everything the guru asks and you are still unhappy—when this mood hits you it’s karma from the past.
Overcome Karma with Kriya Yoga
The best way to overcome karma is kriya yoga and meditation. Keep spending time with God—if we love God with all our hearts God will take away our karma. Keep on Keeping on. Your life won’t be in the doldrums forever. If you need professional help, ask God to guide you to the right therapist. When we’re in a tunnel of bad karma sometimes we can’t see the end, but the light is always at the end of the tunnel, that love and light of God. Every time we call on God to help us we are moving closer to the end of karma. Never think the deck is stacked against you. Every struggle is temporary. Mukti Mata felt she was in the presence of a God-realized Master. Master could read her consciousness and asked her to do the little things—the little acts of determination that lift us into the divine presence. To reach Master’s consciousness we make the little acts—it’s the little efforts that bring us into the divine consciousness. To struggle is to win the favor of God.
A basic rule about introspection is that it has to be a positive experience. Don’t be mean and vicious to yourself. There is nothing spiritual about beating yourself up and ripping yourself to pieces. Begin introspection with the realization that you are a child of God. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. What is past is past; correct yourself and forget the past. Don’t give any thought to the past. Sometimes under the magnifying glass of discouragement we look at ourselves as horrible. Any flaws you have are not a part of you. When you are tested, how do you see yourself? See yourself as the devotee who will never give up. When you feel angry, say “this is not me.” Forcefully disassociate yourself from bad habits. Bad habits are not your real nature.
Be Faithful when Meditating
A question asked to Ma: “Even if one is struggling, is it still possible to know God in this lifetime?” Ma’s answer: “Absolutely. Yes. Be faithful when meditating.” Make the effort to control your mind and keep the focus on God when meditating. Don’t be a slave to the mind. Work on concentration. Don’t get upset when your mind wanders. Bring your mind back. Don’t count how many hours you meditated. God is not an accountant. Forget the time and just love God. That love is a divine magnet—God must come.
We can know God in this life. If each day you practice the techniques you will realize you can know God in this lifetime. You can have dry spells. Everyone does—even saints. Keep a record of the times you have known God and feed upon those experiences. Let it last by reliving the experiences. The key to seeing ourselves in a positive light is through regularity in meditation. In the life of every devotee there are 2 absolutes:
1) we are soul, and
2) God and Guru love us unconditionally.
The moment we turn to God and Guru those blessings are there. Master says it is for the sake of the unredeemed that the Guru must come back to earth.
You can have all kinds of material things but you always want more. Look instead for the wellspring of divinity in the soul. It is through the blessings and teachings of the Guru that we find fulfillment. No matter what the mistake don’t be afraid to go to the Guru and ask for help. When Judas came to Jesus, Jesus accepted him knowing Judas’ nature. Jesus accepted Judas because he was a disciple from the past. According to Master, “every soul can be rescued if the mind makes a genuine commitment.”
Begin and end introspection by affirming you are a child of God. You will realize god if you don’t give up. Always know that you are unconditionally loved by God and Guru. Meditate with sincerity and devotion.
Brother ended the class by asking all to visualize Master in the spiritual eye and visualize bad habits melting away and good habits becoming stronger.
These notes are not an official publication of SRF. They were taken by the devotees during talks given by the monks and nuns. Please be aware that there is a degree of human error involved in taking and transcribing notes.