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Continuing Beginners

Babaji, 1975

Yoga programs at the Centre are designed for anyone who wants to learn and practice, at whatever level. Some people are new to yoga and others have been practicing for years. Many are in the middle: They started practicing years ago, but haven’t continued on a regular basis. So, in addition to offering beginner, intermediate and advanced classes, there is always a class for continuing beginners. This usually refers to asana classes, but it can apply equally to any spiritual practice. Really, we’re all continuing beginners because each moment is a new opportunity to commit to our path and come back to our aim.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to remind ourselves of our priorities and jump start our practice. Practice is more effective when we do it regularly; we’re better off doing a short practice every day than two hours every few days (or weeks). Even if we sit for only ten minutes a day, we’ll soon find that not only is it possible to practice every day, but it becomes as natural as brushing our teeth, part of our daily routine. Even so, there are days when we’re in the flow, when our minds are calm – and there are other days when it’s hard to get ourselves going, when our minds are all over the map and can’t settle. On days like that it’s tempting to say, ‘It’s just not working, maybe I’ll take a break today.’ Right.

Babaji says: The mind doesn’t accept sadhana (spiritual practice) because it doesn’t see any physical gain from doing it. If sadhana paid $50 per hour, then everyone would do it willingly. The mind always makes excuses for not doing sadhana. “Oh, I have work to do. Last night I went to sleep late and I should sleep longer. I am tired. Not today, tomorrow for sure,” etc. These excuses never end. We make time for all the worldly things but make no time for sadhana, which is the most important thing in life.

In another place, Babaji tells a student: I suggest that you meditate even if you feel it’s difficult to sit, to stop thoughts, and to concentrate. If you don’t accept defeat, then someday you will see that you’ve won. You will attain peace, which is love, God and truth.

To someone else he said: Everyone makes mistakes in life. That’s the way people learn. If one says, “I am a sinner, I am not worthy of attaining liberation,” then one can’t progress. Liberation is not for those who are already liberated. So counting your sins and doing nothing will not do any good. Don’t dwell in the past and don’t worry about the future. Just make your present positive and peaceful.

Making the present positive requires vigilance because it is easy to drift away into the past or future without even knowing it. That’s why sadhana is important; it brings the mind back.

The mind is the creator of everything. You create heaven and you create hell. Both are in the mind. Yoga sadhana deals with the mind. If the mind is controlled, then everything else is easy. As long as the mind is busy in talking to itself, it never listens to the Self. So first we have to silence the mind and then we can hear the song of God within the Self.

Lofty spiritual ideas may seem to be unattainable, but by firm determination, devotion and enthusiastic effort one can achieve the goal.

Do your sadhana every day and be happy.

All quotes are from Everyday Peace, Letters for Life and The Path to Enlightenment is not a Highway by Baba Hari Dass

contributed by Sharada