Strengthening Character by Developing Spiritual Courage and Endurance

Excerpts from a talk at 2016 Convocation by Brother Chidananda

‘I came to show you the way'

I want to share a story that you may not have heard before. And this was told by Meera Mata – Meera Mata who herself was a disciple of great will power, great ‘can-do’ spirit, much loved by Guruji for those qualities. She was the mother of our president Mrinalini Mata.  She passed away in 1982, but for many years was running the Hollywood ashram center.  And she told us this story:

She said, “I remember one night when Master, Rajarsi, Dr. Lewis and a few other disciples and myself were in the car.  Guruji was going through great financial difficulties at the time, and he and Rajarsi were discussing the problems and trying to find some solution to what they could do.  I remember Dr. Lewis then turned to Master and said, ‘But Master, you could look into your spiritual eye and just manifest these things we need.  You have that Divine Power.’  ‘You have that Divine Power.  Why don’t you use it just this time, just to help us get through, you know, just until the work gets established.'”

And she said, “I remember that Master looked at Doctor and said, ‘Doctor, can you manifest these things?’ And he said, ‘No Sir, but you can.’ And Master said,

‘Doctor, what good would it do for me to materialize these things if the rest of you can’t do that?’ ... ‘I came to show you the way.  I go through the same obstacles, the same trials, the same problems that all of you go through.'”  ... 'He looked at all of them in the car and said, ‘Use my example, and let God take care of the other things.'

What a lesson is in this little story, because sometimes it may be tempting to think if we had that divine, miraculous will power, and we could just sweep away all the things that irritate us or we find a little bit unpleasant in life.  You know, we’d make all the traffic lights turn green when we’re just getting there … But the thing is, even if we had that power, even if we could make those changes, afterward we would be the same.  We would be the same likely petty, arrogant, ignorant, very likely obnoxious, ego-centered individual.  Miracles can change outer circumstances, but they can’t change what we are.

So what Master was teaching in that story is really what Gyanamata was saying in her pithy little way, when she prayed,

Lord,
change no circumstance of my life.
Change me.

I think you’ve all heard how Master taught courage and endurance to the close disciples. Our late president Sri Daya Mata recounted to us, “Whenever we came to Paramahansaji with a troubled mind, no matter what the problem, whether of a physical nature, or mental or emotional problem, he used to just say, pointing to the Christ center here between the eyebrows, he would say, 

‘Just keep your mind here [at the Spiritual Eye],
just keep your mind with God.' 

She said, “He didn’t mean that we should indolently ignore the problem, but that we should face whatever life places in our path and do the best we can to somehow get through it–all the while keeping the mind steadfast on that Divine Polestar.” 
So he said, ‘Just keep your mind here, at the spiritual eye.”

And sometimes we may forget what a powerful spiritual practice this is.  One time a disciple asked our Guru, “Sir, is there a scientific method apart from kriya yoga that will lead a devotee to God?” and Master said, "Yes."

“ A sure and swift way to the infinite is
to keep ones attention at
the Christ Consciousness center between the eyebrows.”

[Paramahansa Yogananda]

I want to go into this a little bit in connection with our topic tonight of developing fearlessness, endurance and courage, because… that bestows the strength of mind to stand firm and steadfast in the face of contrary forces and troubles…

This is what Jesus was painting in that beautiful word picture, when he talked about a house founded on a rock… “And the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.”

The Bhagavad Gita talks about these qualities, these expressions of will power, as titiksha and dhriti

SRF AUM

Evenminded endurance - Titiksha

Guruji said, “Evenminded endurance is called titiksha in Sanskrit.  It means not to give in to unpleasant experiences, but to resist them without becoming mentally upset.”  That’s titiksha. 

SRF AUM

Patience of fortitude - Dhriti

And the second one dhriti, “Patience of fortitude that enables the devotee to bear misfortunes and insults with equilibrium.” 

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Loyalty

Spiritual EyeNow he goes on to explain how these qualities develop in the meditating devotee by the communion with the consciousness in the Christ/Krishna Kutastha center, and the consciousness that’s in the highest center of the brain – the thousand-petalled lotus which radiates its influence, its expression, its grace into the life of the devotee through that five-pointed star in the spiritual eye.

So Master goes on to say, “Outward events cannot shake that devotee with those qualities, nor deflect him from his chosen path and goal of Self-realization” – those expressions, those inwardly directed fruits of will power, titiksha and dhriti.

Really another word for what this bestows is that quality of loyalty.  And loyalty, our Guru said, is the highest law on the spiritual path.

Let me share a little story. He certainly illustrated this attitude during that time when his beloved Golden Lotus Temple in Encinitas was shattered and destroyed by a landslide on the bluff.

SRF Golden Lotus Temple

SRF Golden Lotus Temple
SRF Golden Lotus Temple
SRF Golden Lotus Temple

Don’t you think he could have stopped that by his power of Divine Will?  Babaji materialized a whole palace.   This was one little temple. But it wasn’t to be.  And speaking to the devotees there, Master said in that beautiful human and yet divine way that makes him so approachable, so meaningful in the lives of all of us – this is what makes him the kind of example for us to follow – speaking to the devotees afterward he said, 

“This was my test.  It was not easy to bear.  Three years I have worked night and day for that temple.  After it fell I didn’t think that I could ever bear to come to Encinitas again.”  And he said, “It is only for all of you that I have returned.”

But then he spoke about what he called a Divine Hand in that disaster because it was really from that point on when he began expanding more temples and centers that eventually became our vast network of meditation groups and centers and temples all over the world.

Then he continued in that little talk to the devotees there, “That’s how earthly happiness is. There’s always a landslide. But when you’re with God nothing can frighten you anymore.”  And he said, 

“Remember, remember, this world is an imperfect place. Don’t be afraid of disasters. They come only to bring out the hidden strength of spirit within you. This life is like a furnace of flame in which the dross that surrounds our souls is to be burned and purified so that the steel of God’s strength and wisdom can come forth.” 

He said, 

“When sufferings or trials come just say,

‘I realize that this is the Divine Hand of God
that is molding me into his immortal child.”

So we remember how he said to Meera Ma and to Dr. Lewis in that story, “I go through the same obstacles. I go through the same trials and the same problems that all of you go through. Use my example and let God handle the other things.”
And it was when that temple was destroyed that he composed this beautiful affirmation prayer to God:

“In sickness or health,
In sorrow or joy,
In poverty or prosperity,
In disaster or security,
In death or life,
I stand unalterably, immutably, unchangeably
loyal, devoted and loving to Thee, my Heavenly Father
Forever, forever and forever.”

What can you say?  What a Guru, what a teaching!

But that’s not the end of the story, because today, if you go to Encinitas, you can see where the temple used to be on the bluff. Nothing is left, nothing is there, except those steps, the only thing that survived from that disaster–and the emblem of that five-pointed star of the spiritual eye.

SRF Golden Lotus Temple
Star of the Spritual Eye

I don’t think it was a coincidence. It was like he was leaving that message etched in stone for all of us, reminding us that all these trials are just steps to a deeper, more real, sweeter, more enduring relationship with God, if we follow his training and example –

‘Just keep your mind here [at the Spiritual Eye],
just keep your mind with God.' 

Spiritual Eye

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DISCLAIMER
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.