Spiritual life: why it requires a practice of repetition?

Spiritual life: why it requires a practice of repetition?
 

Spiritual life: why it requires a practice of repetition? Spiritual training involves scrubbing out deeply ingrained habits, which takes time and reiter­ation. It is like trying to flatten a scroll that has been coiled for thousands of years. One pass of our hands across the surface won’t do it. We have to press it out again and again. 

Accomplishment in any discipline involves repetition. If we want to build muscles, we don’t lift ten thousand pounds at one time; we lift a few pounds thousands of times. Just as repetition is the source of necessary hardship for a piano student aspiring to be a concert pianist, it remains so for spiritual students aspiring to wake up. We hear the same teachings continuously, we practice the same mantras ceaselessly, incessantly. I have had selfish thoughts millions of times, bragged about myself, criticized others, gossiped, cheated, lied, and practiced self-centered actions millions upon millions of times. I have been mindless billions of time. I have forgotten the truth countless times. The numbers are astronomical, and so is the sphere of their influence.

Now when my teacher tells me I have to recite one million mantras that cultivate love, I know why. He is not torturing me, even though it sometimes feels that way. He is simply using the universal laws of reality, the same ones that I have unconsciously used to get me so stuck, to now consciously get me unstuck.

On the spiritual path we replace unconscious habits of confusion with conscious habits of wisdom. Instead of my unconscious practice of sloth, impatience, greed, anger, or any of the selfish habits that come so easily to me, I consciously practice discipline, patience, kindness, love, and many of the selfless habits that are still foreign to me. I am working to become familiar with good habits.

The spiritual path is hard because we are stopping old habits that come so easily and replacing them with difficult new ones. For example, mindlessness is natural to us. It is easy to space out and be distracted. Try to look at an object without wavering for a few seconds and you will see your talents for distraction. This is a bad habit, formulated over countless repetitions, and is a central unconscious practice on the worldly path. It is no longer even a practice, but a constant performance. We have accomplished mindlessness.

Science speaks about phase transformations, or punctuated equilibrium. A common example is a manner in which water comes to a boil. Put a pot of water on the stove, turn on the heat, and wait. Depending on the intensity of the heat and the temperature and volume of the water, it will boil slowly or quickly, but either way, there is a period when nothing seems to be happening. All the energy is going into the water with no obvious result. The phase transformation from water into steam takes time.

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Looking into the Structure of Bhagavad-gita

Looking into the Structure of Bhagavad-gita

By Isvara Krishna Dasa

Understanding the levels of instruction in the Bhagavad-gita can help us comprehend the overall unity of Lord Krishna’s message.

The Bhagavad-gita is no doubt a major spiritual treatise and one of the world’s greatest classics. Understanding that a hierarchical concept of reality characterizes the Gita can help us see coherence of the Gita’s message.

The Bhagavad-gita speaks on two major levels of reality and a third, intermediate, one. We can use the Sanskrit words dharma and moksha to treat the two main levels, and the word yoga for the third. Dharma refers to a set of values representing duty, religion, morality, law, order, and justice, which together sustain civilized human life. Yoga refers to the attempt to detach oneself from worldly life while trying to yoke oneself to the liberated state. Moksha refers to the liberated state of perfection and eternal existence in pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. The level of dharma represents the human or worldly condition, the level of moksha represents the real or absolute condition (liberation), and the level of yoga is intermediate. We can also define these three levels as the finite, the intermediate, and the infinite.

We can distinguish each level in terms of values and “being.” For dharma, the general rule in terms of value is to prosper. At this level, one desires worldly happiness and prosperity, seeing these as good. In terms of being, one see the living entity as the body, whether as a human being or as some other species.

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