source of wisdom

commitment as the first step to liberation

illustration by mélanie ballairgé

Commitment is an essential foundation for spiritual life. A good way to illustrate this is through an ancient yogic story of two friends who worked in the field of their guru. They spent day after day sowing seeds, weeding, watering and harvesting crops. One friend decided that the work was too menial and left, looking for a better teacher. The other stayed, working in the field and serving his guru. Over the years, the friend who left grew old and despondent with life. One day he heard about a great and wise teacher who was helping many people and he decided to travel to meet this teacher. When he got there, it turned out that this teacher was his old friend! His lifelong commitment to service was the source of his wisdom.

When a commitment is made on the spiritual path, ultimately it is a commitment to finding the divinity within. Perseverance is needed to dig deep enough to establish faith and receive grace. If you were digging a well, you wouldn’t dig a number of shallow holes, you would keep digging in one spot until you reached water. People who have worked to find this source of inner wisdom can be very inspirational.

And while we find committed people inspirational, many people resist commitments in their own lives. They are afraid that a commitment will hold them in a small space and force them to do things they do not want to do. But the power of commitment is neutral and the promise of commitment is that it can manifest anything. So what are you committed to? What do you want to create in your life?

We see that people who are committed to money know how to make money. People who are committed to their families have families; people who want to write or play music commit hours and hours to practising. These are all more tangible commitments, but you can turn the same attention to a spiritual life because if you want to do selfless service and access your inner Light, that also requires a commitment.

Commitment can be experienced in small practices such as devoting several minutes a day to personal reflection, or chanting or physical exercise. But often people have trouble even making a small decision and seeing it through. We have to remember that we will build trust in ourselves by making decisions and sticking to them. Start with a small practice, something manageable, and stick with it for the length of time you decide on at the beginning. At times, you may view commitment as limiting, but not using your decision-making powers and being uncommitted is also limiting. If you never exercise your ability to make a decision and stick to it, when you do come to a crossroad in your life you may find it difficult to make up your mind. Commitment requires both will and surrender: the will to stick to a decision, and the ability to surrender to that same decision.

Gratitude for the present moment supports commitments and can offer a way to act. Remember that it is not you who acts, and the power of the commitment will guide and support you. Then you can say, “Here are my hands, my thoughts, my heart. Divine Mother, use them today.” Life is difficult at times, but we don’t have to make it more difficult by indulging in fantasy and illusion. The power of commitment brings the stability to take life as it comes and can open you to the grace and guidance needed to move forward in a conscious way. By accepting the Divine and nurturing a new way of being, commitment becomes something you want to do, rather than something you are fearful of.

Tests will come to challenge your commitment and show you where you are in your ability to stay with it. Always remember your commitment – sincerity, perseverance and intensity will guarantee success over the struggles. There are sometimes clouds covering the sun, but the light is there – turn to the inner Light and do not let the mind cloud your heartfelt commitment.

pinpoint of Light meditation
Seeing yourself in a shower of Light is a symbolic concept of the Divine without. Realizing the Divine within demands another step of concentration and commitment.

Seat yourself in a comfortable position. Sit with your spine erect, and either cross your legs in the Lotus pose or simply cross your ankles. Rest your hands palm up on your lap. Quiet your body.

Now, see yourself in a shower of Light. White, colourless Divine Light. For a moment think that you are trying to realize the Divine within and without.

Focus your concentration near the base of your spine. See a Lotus bud slowly open and a tiny dewdrop, a tiny pinpoint of Light slowly emerging from it. See it floating up and up in the very centre of the spine. Slowly it floats to the place where the spine joins the head and in a gentle curve like a shepherd’s crook this tiny pinpoint of Light floats to the forehead and comes to rest in the space between the eyebrows. In your mind’s eye see a flash of Divine Light illuminating the brain and all areas of mental activity.

After a few moments take the Light back down to its starting point, the base of the spine. Proceed slowly. Be aware of every part of your body that the Light passes through. When it has reached the lotus and touched its centre, the four petals close as if to protect something very precious. Stay quiet. Let it rest for a moment.

There is a knowing establishing itself in you, deep within you: I am not the body; I am not the mind; I am Light eternal.

Web Exclusive: Swami Radhananda uncovers our potential for power and responsibility in an ancient yogic text. This material is provided courtesy of Yasodhara Ashram's Lightwaves Newsletter.

Swami Radhananda is president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada.

   read more of swami radhananda's past columns

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life