As a Guru I get this one consistent question – “Why am I not progressing in my sadhana? It has been years… etc etc” Sometime there are some specific roadblocks that they need help with. But in most cases the cause is simple.
People do not put in the hours needed. Sadhana is cost intensive of time. There is no way to evade this. Some people, because of good samaskaras, do better and move faster when they take up a practice. But the rest of us are shit out of luck and need to grind away. As one of my mentors told me and which I in turn repeat – “Ghisna padtha hain.” You have to grind away and be ground down in turn. There is NO escape from this reality.
This is not welcome news to a generation that believes champagne spirituality is a real thing. Why do I need to be in the mud with the hoi polloi? Is there no rocket route? Nope.
Grind. Burn. Evolve.
Several people do what I call the Futile Dance. In the morning they are huffing and puffing in pranayama, chanting and pujaing and asanaing and rarely meditating. In the evening they are in asuric environments like Pubs and Parliament and all the shakti gains made during the day are frittered away. People want transformation – but they also want an assurance it will not involve change.
People are stupid and deluded.
I get this. I really do. I even sympathize. But there is no help from me. You cannot do sadhana along with a frivolous social life and a thousand daily inputs of chitta pollution. “If we do not go to these parties and get togethers the family is upset and opposes sadhana.” Okay, if that is your choice. Just don’t whine to me that your sadhana is not giving results. It is giving results but you are pouring water in a container that you poke holes in also. Why not accept that this much is the best I can do and work from there? That is facing reality. It also spares me from listening to deluded bullshit.
Unless the hours are put in, and put in consistently, you won’t grow. This is not pleasant, but it is the bloody truth.
The most dangerous trap is when a person gets remarkable experiences at the early stages and loses interest in sadhana when they taper off. These experiences come in cycles, peaks and plateaus, and one must keep going. “Nothing is working because I am not feeling anything” is ridiculous self- important puffery. Your perceptions are not sensitive enough to observe what is happening below the outer surface. That is why you need a guru. But if you are not doing the work that ability never develops…
So how much time is ideal? I would say a minimum of three hours a day with no upper limit. Such people alone get somewhere. If you do one hour or forty minutes you barely flush out the contaminations of travel, people, environment and daily interactions. Some small segment of shakti may accrue. This is not at all a bad place to be in. It is still better than the other 97 percent of humanity. But you are not going to move fast. This sort of steadiness creates punya, creates good vaasana samskara and if you are very lucky and have the blessing of devata and guru kshetram it may even change your circumstances so that you can do more sadhana. But it is a holding operation mainly. No new karma is allowed to accrue. Just the backlog is worked out. If you seriously wish to grapple with lifetimes of conditioning and limitations, three hours a day is the minimum test of seriousness.
Sadhana has to be a priority. For me it was always THE priority. I would let jobs go that I could not afford to let go because they interfered with my sadhana. I was always cranky like that and people thought I was insane. But somehow it all worked out each time because there is a Power that protects and provides for the dedicated sadhaka.
I do not recommend it. People like to say they trust the Divine alone but they always keep a route back to the world in their back pocket. If you do that then you will experience disasters.
But for the normal person living a normal life, sadhana has to be in the top three priorities of life on a daily basis. For most people it is somewhere in the top ten only. If there is a stressful situation, the first thing to stop is the daily practice. That is exactly what you must not do under any circumstances.
You don’t find the time for sadhana. You make it.
If you can watch TV, be on Facebook and pub crawl you can find time for sadhana. The brutal question is – What are you willing to give up so that you can attain this? For most people the answer is – Nothing much. That won’t do.
You cannot expect exemptions will be made for you. Human embodiment comes with many limitations that have to be overcome and that needs time. Consistent practice over time. Don’t be a fool and try to trick your way out of this requirement. Until you are doing three hours a day don’t ask why you are not progressing rapidly. Those who do hit the magic number are normally amazed at how life resets itself to support sadhana.
Swami Brahmananda:In actual spiritual life we find that unless one strives one’s utmost and one’s best,the Lord’s grace will not descend upon us.