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The Path of Endurance: “Khanti” Yoga

by Peter Holleran

   “If the Lord should give you power to raise the dead, He would give much less than He does when he bestows suffering. By miracles you would make yourself a debtor to Him, while by suffering He may become a debtor to you. And even if suffering had no other reward than being able to bear something for that God who loves you, is not this a great reward! Whoever loves, understands what I say.” - St. John Chrysostom

   "Patient endurance is gold." - Zen Master Amakuki Sessan

   “At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” - Freda Kahlo

   “Hardest of all to find are people who will persevere forever.” - Zen saying

   “In the commencement of the spiritual life, our hardest task is to bear with our neighbor; in its progress, with ourselves, and in its end, with God.” - Pere La Combe, spiritual director of Madame Guyon

   "When affliction seems too hard to be borne any longer, when man has come to the end of his endurance, what other recourse has he then to fall on his knees or to cry out in humility?... The questers cannot help them selves. It is not that they necessarily have the strength to endure as that they have no choice except to endure." - Paul Brunton (PB)

   “Suffering patiently endured is the lot and seal of the elect...Are you not aware that there is heroic virtue in the patient endurance of misery, weakness, spiritual poverty, darkness and callousness, of fickleness, folly, and extravagance of mind and imagination? It was this that made St. Francis of Sales say that those who aspired to perfection were required to exercise as much patience, kindness, and endurance towards themselves as towards others.”

   “It is an illusion to have too great a fear of combats. Never shrink from the occasions afforded you by God of acquiring merit, and of practicing virtue, under the pretext of avoiding the danger of committing sin by avoiding the struggle. Do soldiers who fight for their king act this way! and do we not know that we are soldiers of Jesus Christ and that our whole life is nothing but a continuous struggle, and that only he who has fought valiantly will win the crown...Put your trust in His goodness and the power of His grace, and this confidence will ensure though the victory...And if your temptations are altogether interior; if you fear to be carried away by your thoughts and ideas, get rid of that fear also. Do not resist these interior temptations directly; let them fall, and resist them indirectly by recollection and the thought of God; and if you are not able to get rid of them in this way, endure them patiently. The distrust that makes you try to avoid temptations that are sent to you by God, will cause others more dangerous of which you have no suspicion, for what temptation could be more evident and plain than the thought which you express when you say that you will never succeed in the spiritual life? What! are not all Religious called to this life and you in particular? Even this weakness so clearly revealed to you by your trial, and your inability to make any serious progress in perfection, or of enjoying any peace except in this way of life, is not this a magnificent sign that God calls you to it more especially than others?”

   “The continual vicissitudes that take place in the soul are a good sign. By them the Holy Spirit renders us pliant to all His movements; for, by dint of these constant changes nothing of self remains, and we are prepared to take any shape that is pleasing to this divine Spirit who breathes where He will and as He pleases. It is, as Fenelon says, like a continual melting and recasting of the soul, which, in this process, becomes liquid Iike water having neither form nor shape but taking any form or shape according to that of the vessel into which it is poured.”

   “Recall to your mind the agony of our Lord in the Garden of Olives, and you will understand that bitterness of feeling and violent anguish are not incompatible with perfect submission. They are the groanings of suffering nature and signs of the hardness of the sacrifice. To do nothing at such a time contrary to the order of God, to utter no word of complaint or of distress, is indeed perfect submission which proceeds from love, and love of the purest description.”
- Jean-Pierre deCaussade

   “Love bears all things,
   believes all things,
   hopes all things,
   endures all things.”
(1 Corinthians: 1-8)

   “Hafiz! Stay in the dangerous life that’s yours. There you’ll meet the face that dissolves fear.”
- Hafiz

   “On the physical plane, or the worldly platform, as Guruji likes to put it, the Sufi training is chiefly a test of endurance. How much one can endure for the sake of love. How much and how long one can tolerate...It works this way: if one comes to the saint and the saint is pleased, he will clean your room. What is your room? Your heart. And the cleaning means that the samskaras [inherited tendencies] are being pushed. This will cause great suffering. People will then say: he is punishing her. But in reality it is not so.” - Bhai Sahib, Daughter of Fire , p. 558, 576

   “The sun rises at a certain moment, and with it day breaks and all is clearly illumined; the snow and ice, however, take time to break up and melt. A baby is born at a certain moment, though it may take years to walk, talk, and help others.” (Jeff Shore, Great Doubt, p. 66-67)

   There are really many ways to talk about spiritual awakening. One way is to talk in terms of the growth of the 'spiritual' qualities of awakening itself, in which case one looks for more and more peace, wisdom, love, clarity, discrimination, or 'cutting through' and seeing the nature of the mind, seeing what is, being what one is, in its most basic essence. This all seems a true or valid way of speaking, although, even so, there are clearly ups and downs in the process. PB wrote:

   " 'Give yourself to the Overself' is simple to say, but one must descend and ascend through a number of levels before its full majestic meaning is realized." (1)

   Another way to speak of this process, however, and not unrelated to the first but another perspective to it, is noting that there are obstructions, vasanas, or karmas that need to be cleansed, which, when purified, make seeing one's true nature more effortless. This might be thought of, then, as the 'materialistic' point of view, as it is about clearing out 'stuff' one is usually not even aware of that is in the way of seeing the truth. So one way is emphasizing the seeing, and one emphasizes the clearing. Each has a value, and basically are inseparable.

   One of the values of this second point of view is that during times of darkness, cleansing, and suffering, which almost everyone goes through, it seems to be the more evident, common sense understanding of what is going on. Things are simply coming up to be purged. And at these times the very pace, intensity and nature of this process is such that it can not only obscure realization, but even make us feel worse, like we have lost ground. One may even - and this is quite common - experience this not only within one life, but - if we are to believe one such as the Buddha - from lifetime to lifetime even after one has made substantial progress or 'non-progress' in knowing one's basic nature. anadi states:

   "Awakening represents a positive movement towards a higher state of being and understanding; purification is the liberating cleansing of the mind. Although the process of purification and healing are indivisible from our evolution, for a person who has not yet entered the inner path they occur only within the sphere of personality. However, for someone who has already reached a level of inner awakening, purification and healing while still associated with the personality, take place within the realm of the soul. It is essential to understand that even with inner awakening, expansion beyond the mind is not sufficient to reach complete emancipation. Until the mind has become pure and the heart healed, the burdens of the past will not allow the soul to achieve true freedom...We cannot realize the state of surrender without undergoing a deep purification that enables our human nature to fuse with the soul." (2)

   Such an apparent down period or even life can be quite frustrating to the soul who has known profound equanimity and intuitive realization before: he may feel like a caged animal, or a driver with one foot on the gas but a governor on the accelerator. Yet, again, it is supposedly really a quite common phenomenon.

   To some the helping thought in difficult times comes more from this second understanding of spiritual growth, the idea that suffering clears karma, is cleansing, and that it also leads to realization, even if it feels like nothing is happening. Sometimes it can help to remember that such a process is essentially very purifying, whether or not one believes there is truly any 'one' there to be purified. In any case, purification happens - whether one believes it or not! One may have been graced with a long period of calm clarity, only to face literally chunks of karma coming up to be either eradicated/paid off, transmuted/'tantracized', or 'spontaneously liberated', as ones capacity may be. A person my lose all sense of 'the presence', and feel he has backtracked. He may even feel stunned, helpless, and forsaken. Yet this is not so. He is only being made to complete his development and be made whole. The soul is not fooled. This is better experienced than explained. As Rumi said:

   "Whatever purifies you, is the correct road. I will try not to define it."

   And, enduring these periods, as the Tibetans would say, brings great 'merit'. Isn't is interesting that in Buddhism, which places such an emphasis on there being 'no-self', or 'no-soul', and in the highest level, sometimes even 'no-practice', that it is said to be also necessary to accumulate 'great merit'? Is not that in itself actually an argument for a deep form of nonduality between relative and absolute levels? This is not to say that it may not be felt at points that there is 'no one accumulating merit' and 'nothing accumulated', but, practically speaking in actualizing, our way out of samsara, it seems that there is.

   In The Words of My Perfect Teacher, a book highly praised and recommended by both the Dalai Lama and the venerable Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche for all practitioners, both beginning and advanced, Patrul Rinpoche goes as far as to say,

   "Until one has completed the two sacred accumulations,
   One will never realize sacred emptiness."
(p. 203)

   For emptiness or wisdom without compassion is not sacred, but dry and incomplete. It may bring a kind of liberation, but is not the Great Perfection spoken of in Dzogchen, nor is it the "Truth is above all, but higher still is true living" of Guru Nanak. In short, this indicates the need for maturity of relative wisdom and bodhicitta or boundless compassion for others, in hopes of realizing with any stability the great truths of the path. Dagpo Rinpoche (also known as Gampopa, disciple of the great Milarepa) likewise said:

   "Even when your realization transcends the very notions of there being anything to accumulate or purify, continue still to accumulate even the smallest amounts of merit." (Ibid)

   So they have long ago already accounted for this paradox! This means that one practices the 'two truths' - absolute and relative, until a very high stage, which for most of us means essentially as long as there is breath. Merit (i.e., favorable karma) and wisdom assures a congenial environment for practice to continue to fruition in this and future lives. It also is the recognition of the seamless interdependence of the relative and absolute domains.

   And Patrul Rinpoche says that the most efficacious and only way to accumulate much merit is to make patience or endurance the main practice in our lives. As an example he reminds us, “How could we practice patience if there were no one who made us angry?” Many a practitioner has lost his precious insight from the failure to remember this core aspect of the path. Even today I see a posting that teaches one can forget ethics as long as he remembers to just 'see consciousness.' Aside from the fact that consciousness is not something to be seen, how many really can do that all the time? Being true to oneself is another key virtue.

   One may therefore ignore such advice at his own choosing. 'Hanging in there', thus, seems to be a path, or the heart of the path, for many. In some instances, and at some times, it seems the only thing one can do. Hard as it may be to believe or conceive, for those enjoying a relatively stable and calm period in their practice - or simply their life - it may even become impossible for one to do even so simple a thing as watching one's breath, what to speak of quickly advancing beyond that to contemplate consciousness - however easy that once may have seemed, and in fact may be. To be reduced to a spiritual poverty where one can seemingly do almost nothing is considered a great grace in Christian mysticism, one 'achieved' so to speak only through much persistence and with the help of excellent directors. Tapas was a first choice as a name for this 'yoga', and is pretty good, as is patience, but khanti, the sixth of the ten paramitas or perfections of Buddhism, and one of the greatest protections, is even closer; from the Sanskrit ksam, which means to forebear or endure. (3) It is certain that many of us know this 'path' well, whatever form of practice we have chosen, be it bhakti, enquiry, karma, or other philosophical approaches. (4)

   Zen master Hakuin, spoken of as "the greatest sage in five hundred years", wrote in his famous "Song":

   " In the Upasaka Sutra or sutra for laymen it is said: "Patient endurance is the real cause of enlightenment. The Anuttara-sam yak-sambodhi or peerless wisdom is the fruit of this patience." Another sutra says that the man who can practice patient endurance is the real hero."

   This is spoken of so much in the literature that this point needn't be belabored too much - but nor must it be mentioned too little either. This is not meant to be negative - there is no argument against spontaneous joy - but only to present the situation as it is for many. The following, then, are a selection of quotes from great teachers addressing what we have here chosen to call 'Khanti Yoga - the path of endurance'.

   H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

   “Never give up. No matter what is going on. Never give up. Develop the heart. Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Be compassionate. Not just to your friends but to everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and the world. Work for peace and I say again, never give up. No matter what is happening. No matter what is going on around you. Never give up.”

   Anthony Damiani

   “You don’t lose unless you quit. As long as you’re in there fighting, you’re not losing. But if you quit, you lose!...The point here is very simple: As long as you do not admit you’re defeated, even if you are losing, that’s what counts, that you don’t admit defeat....It’s not pride; it’s endurance. No matter how many times you get knocked down to the canvas - and you will get knocked down enough times - you keep getting up. Even if you take a count of nine, get up. Don’t quit.”

   "If you spend your whole life trying to become a sage, you're not going to be reborn as a bum."

   “When the time comes, if you haven’t done the work you won’t know it. But if you have done that work, and there comes a moment where the situation arises where you have to surrender the ego, that makes it possible for you to give up the ego - or at least recognize that this is what’s being called for. But you have to do the work first. You’re not going to give up the ego just like that...But an occasion may arise, when the possibility of surrendering the ego will take place: in meditation, some crisis, or something. And if you haven’t struggled all the time with it, you certainly will not at that time attempt to surrender it...You're not going to get rid of your ego until you have sufficiently developed it, purified it, and brought it under the higher discipline, the higher philosophy...Actually, you don't get rid of it, you have to transform it...The ego has to be evolved, matured. It won't be capable of that sacrifice until it does reach that maturity..[Is it possible that true surrender takes place without your really knowing it?] Don't worry, you'll know it. It will be the most agonizing thing you've ever gone through...The ego will not destroy itself. Even if you're in the process of going through certain spiritual disciplines which are attempting to reduce the ego's strength, the ego will resist....[But] you reach a certain level or a certain stage of contemplative exercise and it's taken out of your hands. It's the King within that starts guiding the whole process, the individual ego would never be able to do that. That Grace takes over and directs, and of course you'll be aware of that intuitively, that it's doing it.”

   - from Standing In Your Own Way

   Jah Jae Noh

   "Commitment is essential to the degree that suffering is experienced. Since the suffering one experiences ultimately challenges every aspect of your being, then your commitment must be absolute and without qualifications. Commitment is essential to the degree that you are confronted with truth. Since truth is absolute, so must your commitment be. When your Path becomes seemingly too chaotic, and the pressure too great to bear, it is then that commitment is most sorely needed. Without it, you will falter, doubt and eventually turn away from truth to find consolation in some illusion. Commitment is what carries you through trials and darkness which will keep you going, keep you facing truth. And commitment is sheer will, determination, dedication, based firmly in faith."

   "How then does the student finally come to truth? Since everything a student does is unconsciously aimed at avoiding truth, it is only through constant confrontation with truth that the student finally understands, accepts. In effect, truth simply outlasts the student. No matter what the student tries to do, truth keeps on "coming at" him until he finally wears out and surrenders. But this process obviously requires that the student persists. It requires the student to be dedicated, sincere...Since everything he does only avoids truth, he surrenders to That Which Is, Reality, Truth, God. He allows himself to be "done" by Reality."

   - from Do You See What I See?

   Paul Brunton

   "For those who welcome the Truth-bringer must needs be few, those who want the truth must be fewer still, and of these again those who can endure it when brought face to face with it are rare."

   "The long hard quest for the soul asks too much endurance of self-discipline from its pursuers ever to be more than it has been in the past - an undertaking for the few driven by an inner urge. Hence it is not so much a voluntary undertaking as an involuntary one. The questers cannot help them selves. It is not that they necessarily have the strength to endure as that they have no choice except to endure."

   "From the first moment that he sets foot on this inner path until the last one when he has finished it, he will at intervals be assailed by tests which will try the stuff he is made of. Such trials are sent to the student to examine his mettle, to show how much he is really worth, and to reveal the strength and weakness that are really his, not what he believes are his. The hardships he encounters try the quality of his attainment and demonstrate whether his inner strength can survive them or will break down; the sufferings he experiences may engrave lessons on his heart, and the ordeals he undergoes may purify it. Life is the teacher as well as the judge."

   "We all have karmic debts to meet, self-earned penalties for sins and errors committed in former lifetimes if not in this one...He must learn patience in the greatest of all quests. However, he must remember that there are compensations for protracted periods of wearisome waiting, that periods or progress into which he will enter will be quite rapid by comparison. Above all, he should know that a sound basis for...development must be built in the character. It must be stable, sound, moral, determined, enduring, balanced, and reliable."

   "If you find progress to be slow and the promised rewards still out of sight, do not despair. Be patient as Nature herself is patient. Find, if you can, the friendship of those more advanced than yourself and receive from their presence the stimulus to become unhurried by time and unhurt by moods of impatience. The path may be a long one, but when success comes it comes unexpectedly and the final stages are short and rapid. It is the earlier and more elementary stages which are long and drawn out. You are not in a position to judge exactly what progress you have made. That is why you must have great patience."

   "He must remember that he is subject to trials of faith and character which he might not otherwise have had. He simply must believe that if he does his share towards the fulfillment of his duties the results pass out of his hands and become God's concern."

   "When, therefore, the really earnest disciple who has asked for a quickened advance on the Quest finds that all kinds of experiences begin to follow each other for a period, he should recognize that this is part of the answer to his call. He will be made to feel loss as well as gain, bliss as well as pain, success as well as failure, temptation as well as tribulations at different times and in different degrees. He needs both kinds of experience if his development is to be a balanced one. But because he is still human, he will learn more from his sufferings than from his pleasures. And because the memory will last longer, he will not pass through this period of quickened experiences and extreme vicissitudes without much complaint. Each of these experiences represents a chance for him, not only to conserve what he has already gained, but to pass to a further point where he can gain something new."

   "The more tempered steel comes out of the fiercest fires. If you have suffered more, you have learned more and may perceive more than others."

   "The Overself knows what you are, what you seek, and what you need...We sometimes wonder whether we can bear more, but no experience goes too far until it crushes the ego out of a man, renders him as helpless as the dying person feels."

   “The depth to be penetrated from the surface to the deepest layers of the human psyche is too great to be reached quickly without acute sacrifice and intense anguish."

   "If what he is undergoing is hard to endure, it is also an opportunity that will not recur again in the same form and under the same circumstances, an opportunity to master a special lesson or to rouse a latent energy or to work on a particular character trait."

   "The ability to hold on during a single dark period, when the frustrations and humiliations of poverty seem unbearable, may turn the fortunes of one's entire life for the better."

   "He must be forewarned that, at certain stages, he will be examined by his higher self and tested by the beneficent forces or tempted by the adverse ones. From this epoch-making date, the major episodes of an aspirant's life are purposely sent into it. Both good and evil powers pay special attention, within his personal karma, to his affairs. Once he has committed himself to this quest, he will find that events so arrange themselves as to indicate his sincerity, examine his motives, display his weaknesses, and find out his virtues. His loyalty to the goal will be tested."

   "This quest holds situations in its eventual course that will stun him with their paradox and amaze him with their contradictions."

   "The longer the trial has to be suffered (and it is there under the law of destiny), the more deeply and firmly rooted will be the qualities and controls developed by the correct attitude. The test itself will pass away into a fading memory but those benefits will remain permanent."

   "His test in the truth of philosophic teaching, in the wisdom and virtues of the spiritual guide, in the necessity of following moral ideals, and in the likelihood of advancement on the spiritual Quest, will be tried in a crucible of fire."

   "The Overself will take him at his word and will let destiny bring him not only those experiences which he earns but especially those which he needs."

   "Those who have previously made satisfying spiritual advance often find themselves pulled up and unable to go further, sometimes for years. This is because the undeveloped and imperfect parts of their nature offer obstruction to further progress. If the higher forces were to descend on them while they are purified only in parts and developed only in some faculties, these forces would prove harmful instead of helpful. Consequently, these parts are brought up by events to the surface of his life in order that they may be dealt with."

   "He challenges the gods who takes the Quest so seriously and, let him be warned, it will ferret out his weakest spot and expose it for his ultimate benefit...There are serious and tragic tests on this path, the results of which are sometimes different in the end from what they were in the beginning. We all need Grace. The way is so hard, the gloom so thick, and the adverse force so strong."

   "Now and then karma unloads trials and troubles which are not pleasant to endure...He cannot escape from these so long as he lives upon earth but he can hope to understand them and eventually to master his mental reactions to them. Therein lies peace and wisdom."

   "He is sometimes taken at his word and made to undergo what Light on the Path refers to as the keenest anguish, which is brought to bear upon the disciple in order to lift him or her finally above the oscillations of experience. The path is no joke. It is as terrible as it is beautiful at other times."

   "So long as he lacks humour however, he may tend to make the quest a burden of disciplines, exercises, duties, and tests only - that is, he may confine it to the Long Path only, and miss its joyous releases, its happy discoveries."

   "It is the shortest step of humility that we can take to admit that we are all en route, and leave it to others to talk of final attainments. In an infinite realm of nature, the possibilities are also infinite."

   "The time may suddenly arise when Grace will take a hand in the matter, and the student's outward life will begin to conform to the mental ideal which he has so long - and, seemingly so vainly - held for it."

   "Your karma is being speeded up; everything is being accelerated to a certain extent. This is necessary for a period to bring quicker progress through forcing different parts of mind and character into activity."

   "If his evolutionary need should require it, he will be harassed by troubles to make him less attached to the world, or by sickness to make him less attached to the body. It is then not so much a matter of receiving self-earned destiny as of satisfying that need. Both coincide usually but not necessarily. Nor does this happen with the ordinary man so much as it does with the questing man, for the latter has asked or prayed for speedier development."

   "Whatever helps us in the end towards the realization of our divinest nature, even if it be painful, is good and whatever hinders, even if it be pleasant, is bad. If a personal sorrow tends towards this result it is really good and if a personal happiness retards it, then it is really bad. It is because we do not believe this that we complain at the presence of suffering and sorrow in the divine plan and at the absence of mercy in the divine will. We do not know where our true good lies, and blindly follow ego, desire, emotion, or passion, displace it by a fancied delusive good. Consequently, we lose faith in God's wisdom at the very time when it is being manifested and we become most bitter about God's indifference just when God's consideration is being most shown to us. Until we summon enough courage to desert our habitual egoistic and unreflective attitude, with the wrong ideas of good and evil, happiness and misery which flow out of it, we shall continue to prolong and multiply our troubles unnecessarily."

   "All the different stages of development are needed in experience and can be missed only by our loss. Although timelessness is the quest's end, the journey itself must take place in the measured pace of time to properly prepare for this end...It may be that a spiritual treasure cannot become our own in advance of the requisite efforts to develop adequate fitness and understanding for such vast responsibility."

   "If he feels he has failed, if he feels that he has sinned, even these are no reasons why he should give up the Quest. He may fail a thousand times. That does not justify his giving up the Quest. He must pick himself up and try for the thousand-and-first time. There is no steady, smooth progression to the goal. it is not an easy path...He must not give up. He can wait, and then he can continue, and even if he fails, still he can say he will try again. Although he may really fail a thousand times, it may be that he is destined to succeed the thousand-and-first time. So he must try, because he never knows which of his efforts is going to be a successful one, and if he persists, there will come a time when this effort will and must succeed. It is as though the gods like to play with him for a while to try his patience and endurance, just to see how keenly he wants the attainment. if he gives up at the first few hindrances or rebuffs, it means that he is not so very keen after all, but if he can endure and keeps on, and keep on, and still keep on, no matter what happens, well then, the gods say, here is someone who really wants truth, so we must give it to him. That is the attitude which he must develop. It doesn't matter how troubled he is personally or how dark circumstances are: they will change because they must change. The wheel of destiny is turning all the time. So he must not let circumstances or his own inner moods deter him from continuing on the path. As a matter of fact, once he has begun on the right-hand path, there is no turning back. He has accepted the responsibility, and he will have to go on with it - and if he tries to turn back, what happens is that he meets with nothing but suffering and disappointment in order to force him to return to the path. So, it is really a serious undertaking to enter upon this path, because he has to continue, and the gods will give him no rest if he runs away from it once he has really set his foot on it."

   "After the optimists have had their say and the Advaitins have preached, the hard fact will be echoed back by experience: the goal is set so far, his powers so limited, that he has to call on the quality of patience and make it his own."

   "The shoulders of the aspirant must be strong enough to bear the bitter blows of destiny without getting bowed down. He has placed his life utterly in the hands of the gods, and he must be ready to suffer with a sublime fortitude."

   "Beware what you pray for. Do not ask for the truth unless you know what it means and all that it implies and nevertheless are still willing to accept it. For if it is granted to you, it will not only purge the evil out of you but later purify the egoism from your mind. Will you be able to endure this loss, which is unlikely to be a painless one?"

   "The need of obtaining help from outside his ordinary self and from beyond his ordinary resources in this tremendous struggle becomes urgent. It is indeed a need of Grace. Fortunately for him this Grace is available, although it may not be on his own terms."

   "At a certain stage he must learn to "let go" more and allow the Overself to possess him, rather than strain to possess something which he believes to be still eluding him. Every aspirant who has passed it will remember how he leapt ahead when he made the discovery."

   "With the descent of Grace, all the anguish and ugly memories of the seeker's past and the frustrations of the present are miraculously sponged out by the Overself's unseen and healing hand. He knows that a new element has entered into his field of consciousness, and he will unmistakably feel from that moment a blessed quickening of inner life. When his personal effort subsides, a further effort begins to do for him what he could not do for himself, and under its beneficent operation he will find his higher will strengthening, his moral attitude improving, and his spiritual aspirations increasing."

   "Indeed, the hour may come when, purified from the ego's partiality, he will kiss the cross that brought him such agony and when, healed of his blindness, he will see that it was a gift from loving hands, not a curse from evil lips. He will see too that in his former insistence on clinging to a lower standpoint, there was no other way of arousing him to the need and value of a higher one than the way of unloosed suffering. But at last the wound has healed perfectly leaving him, as a scar of remembrance, greatly increased wisdom."

   - from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volumes 2, 3,4, 6, and 9

   Ramana Maharshi

   “It will all come right in the end. There is the steady impulse of your determination that sets you on your feet again after every downfall. Gradually all the obstacles are overcome...Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is what is required.”

   - from Talks with Ramana Maharshi


   “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

   Jean-Pierre deCaussade

   "The continual vicissitudes that take place in the soul are a good sign. By these the Holy Spirit renders us pliant to all His movements, for, by dint of these constant changes nothing of self remains, and we are prepared to take any shape that is pleasing to this divine Spirit who breathes where He will and as He pleases. It is, as Fenelon says, like a continual melting and recasting of the soul, which, in this process, becomes liquid like water having neither form nor shape but taking any form or shape, according to that of the vessel into which it is poured."

   "You need neither be surprised nor pained at the destruction of all that is dear to self-love; it would not be self-love if it did not fear this. Only those souls that are already detached from self are free from the fear of this death; and not only do they not fear it, but they desire and beg it of God without ceasing. For us it is enough if we endure in peace, and with patience the successive blows that are effecting it."

   "The crushing weight that you feel on your heart is one of the most salutary operations of that crucifying love which does in your heart what fire does to green wood. Before the flame can make its way the wood crackles, smokes, and gives out all the damp with which it is saturated, but when it is perfectly dry it burns quietly, diffusing all around it a brilliant light. This will be the case with you after your heart has been purified by many crosses, and particularly by these crucifying spiritual operations. You must therefore endure these operations with courage, with sweetness, avoiding as much as possible worrying, or distressing yourself interiorly...I greatly approve, my dear Sister, of the patience with which you endure the great emptiness you experience in your soul. By this you will make more progress in one month than you would in several years of sweetness and consolation. About this I can only exhort you to go on in the same way. It is necessary to traverse this desert to reach during this life the promised land...It is we, ourselves, who compel God to overwhelm us with miseries to make us humble and to increase our self-contempt. If, in spite of this, we have so little humility, and so much self-esteem, what would it be if we found ourselves free from these trials?...God will come at the time fixed by His grace to fill the void which he has made in your heart."

   (from Spiritual Counsels)


   "Most people, not much advanced in the ways of God and of the interior life, set no value on any operations but those that are sweet and evident to the senses. It is certain, however, that those operations that are most humiliating, afflicting, and crucifying, are most calculated to purify the soul and to unite it internally with God. Also, all masters in the spiritual life are agreed in recognizing that more progress is made in patient endurance than in action."

   (from The Complete Fenelon)

   Father Maximos

   "Sooner or later we must descend into that state of despair alone. And there alone, like Jonas inside the belly of the whale, we shall cry out with all our might for God's mercy...Yet nothing will happen, we will get no response from God. It is as if God does not exist. We will be in a position similar to David when he cried out, 'Where is your mercy, Oh God? I used to say a prayer and at that very moment I would feel your presence. Now you are nowhere to be found.' It is important to keep in mind what will happen later, once we reach the state of utter despair at the limits of our endurance. And I don't mean by that the false belief that we have reached the limits of endurance but rather our actual limits, objectively speaking. It is at that point, at that very moment that God begins to make his appearance in us. It is the point when the process of divine consolation begins to emerge in our hearts, yet not quite completely at first and not absolutely."

   (from Kyriakos Markides, Gifts of the Desert)

   Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

   M: The very facts of repetition, of struggling on and on and of endurance and perseverance, in spite of boredom and despair and complete lack of conviction are really crucial. They are not important by themselves, but the sincerity behind them is all-important.

   M: It is only when you are satiated with the changeable and long for the unchangeable, that you are ready for the turning round and stepping into what can be described, when seen, from the level of the mind, as emptiness and darkness. For the mind craves for content and variety, while reality is, to the mind, contentless and invariable.
   D: It looks like death to me.
   M: It is. It is also all-pervading, all-conquering, intense beyond words. No ordinary brain can stand it without being shattered, hence the absolute need for sadhana, Purity of body and clarity of mind, non-violence and selflessness in life are essential for survival as an intelligent and spiritual entity."

   - from I AM THAT

   Have faith, however, for as the great Hakuin promises in his Song of Zazen:

   “The merit of even a single sitting in Zazen,
   Erases the countless sins committed in the past.
   Where then are there the evil paths to misguide us?
   The Pure Land cannot be far away.

   Those who, in all humility listen to this Truth,
   Praise it and faithfully follow it,
   Will be endowed with innumerable merits.”


1. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York, 1988), Vol. 15, Part 1, 1.5
2. anadi, book of enlightenment (www.anaditeaching.com, 2011), p. 178., 190
3. It is interesting how closely this resembles the seventh Sephiroth in the tree of life in Kaballah, the 'power' or aspect of God known as Netzach, or endurance.
4. Before elaborating on many points about endurance as a 'path' of yoga, there is a special form of it that deserves mentioning. Sufi master Irena Tweedie, in her autobiography Daughter of Fire, gives a quote from her guru, Bhai Sahib, which says: "if one chooses the way of the system, if it is done according to the system, then it takes a long time; if one chooses the way of love it does not take very long, relatively. But it is difficult. Life becomes very sad. No joy. Forms everywhere. This has to be crossed. Then all of a sudden there will be flowers and sunshine but the road has to be crossed first. There is nothing which can be done about it. People will hear one day that you have been turned out; and not only that, but other things too. And it is not the disciple who chooses which road to take; it is the teacher who decides. There are two roads: the Road of Dhyana, the slow one, and the Road of Tyaga, of complete Renunciation, surrender: this is the Direct Road, the Path of Fire, the Path of Love."

   Of course, it is all relative. When he says one way is long (meditation) he means potentially life-times, and when he says the other is short, he means within one life, but still generally quite a long time. He told Irena that the process would go on for years and decades. So the way of meditation is often more gradual comparatively, and being so, is less strenuous and painful, whereas the way of grace, of love, of fire, is more compacted, more accelerated, more rapid. Sant Darshan Singh wrote:

   "We are people of little faith and fail to recognize and appreciate the hand which guides and which sustains. Hazur (Baba Sawan Singh Ji) used to say that once a saint has taken a soul under his wing, he is keen to compress the progress of twenty births into a single one. And if we desire to pack the accomplishments of twenty lives into a single one, we must pay for it."

   The transformation of the emotional and physical nature, the bringing down of love and realization into the lower bodies, is more painful and strenuous than simply attaining a heady and less integrated realization. A few have apparently signed up for this more advanced 'crash' course in embracing the fuller Way of Love and deeper embodiment. They say in Zen, "little doubt, little awakening; big doubt, big awakening." One might add, "big suffering, big awakening." Most don't understand this path, because they figure, "how can it be like that?" They do not know of this way. It is still largely a 'secret' path. Yet perhaps it is best that it be just footnoted in passing. One doesn't really choose it - nothing to worry about - but still, one does 'volunteer'. When? Outside of time, perhaps, God knows....

5. Abbot Zenkei Shinayama, A Flower Does Not Talk, p. 66