Speeding Up Spiritual Evolution

Sutra 1.21 tivra samvega asannah

Those who pursue their practices with a sense of spiritual urgency demostrated through perseverance, and patience (samvega), achieve the ability to concentrate more quickly (tivra), compared to those who engage in Yoga sporadically. In this sutra Patanjali is showing us how to form a habit.

For evolution in Consciousness to happen, two things are necessary. First, there has to be unworldly intention to know the highest truth. Most times, the aspirant seems to be born with this quality - if its present in high degree. He is different from the start and never seems to fit into the framework society has carefully created. He or she may sometimes try, due to pressures from family or society, but in the end they realize that in doing so they are betraying themselves.

They are non-conformists, outsiders, rebels with a cause. They do not care for worldly things and their main priority is the discovery of God whom others seem to not bother or content with meeting upon death. Most of these types are mostly mistaken for mad. Some of whom you may be familiar with were Rumi, Sai Baba, Ramakrishna, Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi and the list goes on.

Throughout their life, this intention of theirs gradually intensify. Sutras 1.21 and 1.22 explain the importance of this gradual evolution is intensity. Perseverance and patience in the face of setbacks is the first half of the recipe for success in Yoga.

From Intention to Creation

Having said the above, know that no effort is ever lost. Even occasional indulgence in spirituality at irregular intervals will yield results over a long time, provided one is aware of how the universe utilizes energy. It is the despondency that arises out of the burden of guilt for not being an ardent practitioner that derails an individuals conviction, not the irregularity of sessions. One session today, another a week later, may seem like a drop in the ocean, but isn't the ocean made up of little drops?

According to Patanjali, a good yogi is that who follows the spiritual meditative path, gradually increasing the regularity and duration of practice. The path of yoga is not an easy path to follow. As a yogi proceeds, he finds his mind passing through various stages of restlessness. Sometimes its calm and peaceful, and other times full of doubt, anxiety, and fear. They experience many dark nights of the soul. The nature of your soul and how evolved it is is determined by your focus in life and the creations that is a result of that focus.

The Lure of Familiarity

In the moments of despair, abandoning the practice and going back to the alleyways of drudgery seems like a much better option because the mind is familiar with the old ways. In familiarity there is comfort because fear of the unknown is absent, but absent with this is also the opprotunity for growth.

Why does an addict subject herself to so much heart ache? Meandering in alleyways that reeks of urine and is filled with feace, before crawling inside a garbage bin to doze off in frigid temperatures may not be everyone's way of spending an evening, but for an addict, these familiar grounds are more comforting than the stable environment of a home.

In times like this, remain vigilant and know that the agitation you are feeling during mindfulness,concentration, and mediation is due to the ego becoming apprehensive because change is something it despises with a passion, and as a result, change becomes a life or death matter for it.

Exercise Self-Compassion

As Ego realizes that it cannot keep the ardent Yogi bewitched and entangled in delusion (maya) through attachment to material things and distraction, it begins to loosen its grip. But it does hang around for an entire lifetime in the subconscious just in case you get weak when treading through a dark night of the soul, and when you do, the Ego will show no mercy. As the wise have observed, one's greatest enemy is the Self.

All spiritual growth is based on surrendering attachments and selfish motives.1 If you find yourself getting off the path more often then you would like, exercise self-compassion rather than attacking and berating yourself for not being a good practitioner. Offer yourself warmth and unconditional acceptance. Everyone who embarks on the path of spirituality meets with hulking hardships, even Buddha. Then who are we to expect perfection.

To be self-compassionate, you will need to be non-attached to your thoughts and feelings. Treat them like a loving parent, who with tender care reigns in an unruly child and shapes him to lead the remarkable life of a conscious creator. The secret is to not give up. If you stumble and fall, get up, brush yourself, and get back on to the path. Above all, never worry, or ruminate about other peoples kind opinions. If someone happens to try and give you a piece of their mind, thank them and get back to your pratice. Once practice has become a habit, it is time to increase the intensity of the particular vibration surrounding that exercise. We will talk more about this in later sutras.

  • 1.21 tivra samvega asannah
  • tivra - at a fast rate.

  • samvega - an automatic sense of internal conviction, vigor, enthusiasm.

  • asannah - very close to the goal. Speedy.