THE MOST DANGEROUS STAGE IS RESPECT.

In my post “The Old Man And His Soul” the following exchange took place under comments between Cheerful Monk and me.

CM – I’m glad you found something that speaks to you. Do you feel the need of a spiritual teacher to help you connect with your soul?

Me – I have a spiritual guide as well as his guide as my Gurus. I rarely need to consult them for their wisdom has been drilled into me by personal lessons over the past decade as well as their lessons in transcript form available for reference. My immediate Guru has wound up his teaching programs here in Pune and is about to take off to the Himalayas for true Sanyas.

CM – I would have been surprised if that weren’t true by now. It sounds as if you still have plenty of opportunities to practice in your everyday life. Who needs to leave home to go on a spiritual journey? 🙂

Me – The journey is internal CM. The goal is Moksha. I am striving without leaving the confines of the four walls of my home, and without running away from my responsibilities and duties. This too is a perfectly acceptable situation in the system of philosophy that I follow.

CM – Of course. That’s why I’ve never understood your occasional bouts of why-me-itis. You have all you need without going anywhere.

My favorite prayer is, “Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity. I sure hope You know what You’re doing!”

I don’t really believe in a god, but the prayer has the right balance between acceptance, devotion and humor.”

This exchange led me to locate something that has stuck in the back of my mind for over a decade.

“When we try to bring about change in our societies, we are treated first with indifference, then with ridicule, then with abuse and then with oppression. And finally, the greatest challenge is thrown at us: We are treated with respect. This is the most dangerous stage.”
~A. T. Ariyaratne.

A.T. Ariyaratne is one of the world’s most successful community organizers. His organization, the Sarvodaya Shramadana, has mobilized millions of people in Sri Lanka in successful grass roots initiatives, with lasting benefits for Sri Lanka’s economic and community development.

Ariyaratne reminds us that it is easier to begin initiatives than to bring enduring changes to fruition. At the early stages, excitement comes easily. Later, after you begin to make progress, opposition develops – which can actually mobilize your efforts. People see themselves fighting “a noble battle” against the entrenched forces preserving the status quo. A few small initial victories establish confidence that more progress is just around the corner. Eventually, the initiative is treated with respect: the “enemy outside” begins to espouse all the same goals, objectives, and ideals as those instigating the change. At this point, it is easy for people to think that the work is over. In fact, it may be just starting.

~Extracted from “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Sange.

My internal spiritual journey has followed precisely these stages. Instead of people seen as themselves fighting, I have to fight internal battles against entrenched internal forces that say, “give up the practice”. And the work is never over, despite getting ‘respect’ from external sources for “knowledge”. It is always starting all over again. The whymeitis never really goes away for good. Conditioning is deep rooted. I have to go back to refer to material to clarify concepts and practices, and the journey goes on.

The joy is in being on the journey.

As I have understood sanyas, I am at that stage of renunciation where I do not have to go away to the Himalayas.

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