abhyase ‘py asamartho ‘s i/ matkarma-paramo bhava madartham api karmani / kurvan siddhim avapsyasi If you cannot practice meditation, then think of my work and perform your own work for my sake, and you shall attain enlightenment (BG XII.10)
We only really have one job in this life and that is to find God. Since God dwells within each one of us, we had better get inside as soon as possible, if we want to find what we are looking for. Run for cover; seek the solace, which is always waiting for you inside. Don’t spend too much time out there looking around trying to find it. Valuable things, the important things that we think we have lost, are always found in the least expected places, the last places we would think to look.
The storm is coming-it might already be raging and you just haven’t noticed in a while, or you might even consider yourself well aware that the storm is occurring but you think it is like the weather and there is nothing you or anyone can do about it. You think things just happen to you, the world is coming at you and you are a passive victim of circumstances, sometimes fortunate, sometimes unfortunate. You have heard optimistic people say that peace and love are possible. But the world is in such a mess, shouldn’t we or somebody do something about all the violence, misery and unfairness in the world, first, before we go inside and sit down cozy by the fire with a cup of tea?
Everything you see is a projection coming from inside of you. If you don’t like what you see out there, the best way to change it is by doing your best to change the inside first. If you want the world to be a peaceful place, you must be a peaceful person, before you expect others to be. Once you have found the inner peace-the inner joy inside of yourself-you are able to move in the world from a place of spiritual activation. You embody that which you want to see in others and the world. God is the source of that inner peace and joy; joy is the nature of God, and you and God are one (that’s the meaning of yoga). When you act from that serene inner reality, you can then see the world realistically: you stop blaming others, you stop being angry, judgmental or upset with others and instead you find creative ways to increase your inner joy. Â If instead you search for God (peace, love, happiness, joy) outside of yourself and try to find happiness and fulfillment in things, situations and other people that appear separate from you, you will eventually, but inevitably, become disappointed, disillusioned and perhaps even cynical. When that occurs you will lose your faith in life, feeling that it has no meaning and there is no lasting happiness or joy to be found.
Often times it takes a violent storm for one to seek shelter.
There are many accounts of people who have gone through a traumatic experience-an accident, the death of a loved one or a serious illness-which instigated a mystical or transcendental realization, forcing them to go inside and reevaluate the purpose of their life.
Okay, so you’re convinced that it is important to go inside-you have answered the why of the situation, but what about the how? Â How do we “go inside?” Patanjali says, Give up and take refuge in God (PYS 1.23). But that brings us back to where we started, because we don’t know how to find God. Patanjali of course gives meditation as a means to find the inner Self, as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. But what if I’m a person who has a lot to do, I have children and a job and not much time, and I can’t seem to meditate long enough or good enough to begin to feel that inner peace, then what-am I destined to be lost and unhappy? Is there something else I can do? Yes!
Krishna says, Keep doing what you do, but remember me while you are doing it (BG XII.10). You don’t have to divide your day into spiritual activities at one time and mundane work or entertaining distractions at other times; all of your life, every moment, can be a spiritual practice, if you can remember God.
I once heard an interview on the radio with Alice Coltrane or Swami Turiyasangitananda, which was her spiritual name. The interviewer was asking her about her prolific musical accomplishments and had cited a list of many recordings she had done and performances that had happened or were scheduled to happen, as well as a recent book she had authored. The interviewer then said, “You have been so busy, how do you keep it all together and get so much done?” To which Alice responded in her characteristic voice, which was so slow and serene, “I only have one job and that is to get to God, and that is a full-time job!” -Sharon Gannon