For those who are keen to proceed ahead and consistently progress on the way of salvation or Moksha, it is imperative to know the pitfalls that exist on this path. Equally important is to do an impartial introspection, analysis and assessment, on a daily basis, of inner tendencies that happen to be flowing in the direction of these pitfalls. Here are the pitfalls:
Attachment with Pride: Whenever someone shows great respect for us, it invokes a feeling of pride that indeed tastes very sweet. As a result, we develop attachment with pride. As long as any sweetness is experienced in worldly interaction, the uninterrupted awareness of the Soul cannot prevail. This is because sweetness causes interruptions by dozing off the awareness.
In the process of enjoying respect, our awareness of the Soul is diminished. However, when one begins to yearn for more and more respect, there becomes total darkness inside. From the perspective of liberation, simple pride is still tolerable. However, those who constantly use their energies in being preoccupied with “where will I get respect from, how can I get respect and recognition in the eyes of the world?” are in grave danger. Pride can be removed but it is extremely difficult to eradicate the hunger for pride. To progress on the way of salvation by grace, the intent of self-importance should slowly vanish.
Craving for Praise: Craving is when one likes to listen to one’s praise more and more; directly or indirectly one keeps seeking praise of one’s Self. When people praise us and we roam in an intoxicated state for the whole day, it is called praise intoxication.
When someone praises by saying, “You did well!”; we immediately taste the sweetness of doership. This results in our spiritual fall later on! People may elevate us; they may put us on a pedestal and may even believe we are praiseworthy. However, what have we to do with what people think and believe? Still, the ego takes all the credit and diverts us from the path of liberation. When one talks good, we like it; when one talks bad, we find it bitter. When there is no difference between the bitter and the sweet (insult and praise), know that spiritual knowledge is present. The one who does not differentiate between the bitter and the sweet, and is not affected by either, deserves spiritual progress.
Desire to be Worshipped: The desire to be worshipped by people is another big pitfall. The moment someone folds hands and bows head to us in a praiseful manner, the internal sweet tingling rises to a crescendo. We feel tickled, and therefore, wallow with indulgence in such temporary pleasures. That is a completely wrong path. There is no graver disease than this intense craving for being recognized and worshipped.
Who is to be worshipped? The Soul is indeed the One to be worshipped. So where is the need to worship the body? What are we going to gain from the worship of the body that is inevitably going to be burnt in a funeral pyre? When people praise us and welcome us, we slowly develop a habit for it; it takes hold of us from within, just like the habit of drinking tea. Then when we don’t get it, we become perplexed and suffer.
One may even resort to deception to get respect and praise from others. What is one hungry for here? The need to be worshipped is a beggary. Such habits that have taken hold do not leave easily. People create their own world of self-importance and trigger situations such that they get praise wherever they go. Those who covet praise and recognition will not be able to attain the truth. There is grave danger in this; so, beware!
Inquisitive of “What People Say about Me”: Yet another grave disease on the path of Moksha is to eavesdrop in order to catch something being said about us. One secretly tries to overhear what the other person is saying for her or him. If we happen to listen to what others are saying about us, it will disrupt our sanity. Based on what we hear, a strong opinion gets formed in our mind for people – a negative opinion for those who are saying negative for us and a positive opinion for those talking good about us. One who wants to go to Moksha should be happy if someone talks bad about her or him. This is because, in reality, the latter person is freeing the former person from her or his karma by taking that negativity upon her or him. The one talking might have said it casually without much thought but it ruins our mind and sleep.
The path to final liberation is missed if one intends to know, “What were they saying about me when I was gone?” Let people say whatever they want to. The world will talk if we are at fault; why should we have any objection to it? If anyone speaks negatively about us, let him, as it is of benefit to us. We need to remain strong. Even a small mistake in this matter can create terrible problems while proceeding on the way of salvation. It is the deceit in us that leads our mind to secretly listen to other people’s conversation.
Fear of What People Will Say: “What will people say?” is the biggest disease in this world. Moksha One does not come under the pressure of societal influence at all. Usually, one employs deceit and deception out of fear, but fear of what? The one with the fault will have fear, won’t he?
Anyone who has the intense burning desire and craving for liberation is not touched by any hindrances on the path of liberation. The constant awareness of “Except for liberation, I don’t want anything at all” will make deceit leave. Saying this five times every morning will let the awareness arise to defeat deceit.
Easily Swayed by What Others Say. Many people get easily swayed by what others say. If some third party comes and says negative for some person, we immediately tend to form a negative opinion for that person. When one is not so gullible as to be influenced by what others say, then it is correct. We must realize that the other person is only trying to make us take sides. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan states His own example, “So many people come and tell me all kinds of things but I remain unmoved. I do not let their talks sway me.”
Progress is made when one is not swayed by anything that has no relation with the goal of liberation. This ensures spiritual progress. Stick to only that talk which liberates. Any talk that sways us away from our goal and the right vision should not be allowed to enter our mind. The remedy for this is to listen dramatically, i.e., pretending to listen earnestly while really listening only superficially; we do not object to it externally, and internally, we rely only upon the right vision. Everyone will speak according to what they understand; but we, as spiritual seekers, should rely only on the right vision.
Pointman who Diverts Us from the Path of Moksha and Pushes us into a Different Direction: If some ‘pointman’ (one in charge of switching railway lines) comes across on our way to Moksha, there is no guarantee of us staying on course. If the track changes, there is no telling where we may end up.
Until the train is travelling on the main line, i.e., on the right track, we will not be robbed of the great spiritual state received from the Gnani. Hence, to save ourselves from falling in this pitfall, we should exercise great care to ensure that our ‘main line’ (goal of liberation) does not get switched and we always stick to the path and destination from the Gnani’s point only.
Obstinacy: One who wants to go to Moksha has to become completely straightforward; not an iota of obstinacy is allowed while on the way of Moksha. Gnani Purush says that obstinacy is a big obstruction on the path to liberation, and if one becomes straightforward, one can become God.
The reason behind our obstinacy is that we want to get things our way. We resort to manipulative practices or scare tactics such as sulking, throwing tantrums, and whatever else it takes to drive things our way. As one succeeds in such attempts, over time, she or he forms a strong opinion in mind, “By acting stubborn, we can easily have things our way.” With every success, this opinion gets stronger and stronger. Obstinacy survives on this very opinion. Therefore, it is essential that this opinion should break. Or else, one who is obstinate gets severely punished on the worldly path as well as on the path of Moksha.
When we admit our obstinacies, they begin to go away; but if we deny them, they become even stronger. When a true statement that is satisfying to the heart is not accepted, that verily is the nature of obstinacy. Obstinate people behave according to their own opinions. Obstinacies end in those who behave according to the Gnani’s opinion.
Insatiable Greed: Greed makes us forget our goal. That which breaks our goal is our enemy. Greed tends to linger due to our old habit of delving into and tasting the temporary pleasures of the mind and body. These pleasures lead us into a web of entrapment. However, we must make sure that we never lose sight of our goal of Moksha, and must tell ourselves in every instance of greed, “No, I need to go this way; I don’t want any transient pleasures; I wish to proceed on my path to salvation and attain my goal.”
Knowledge of the above pitfalls will help us, but to a limited extent, unless there is a presence of Gnani
It is because these pitfalls are hard to find, and once fallen, it becomes even more difficult to come out. It’s only with the grace of the Gnani that we are able to see our mistakes when He points them out to us and we examine them. Then, gradually following His instructions, we are able to make our way out of those mistakes.
Hence, the presence of Gnani is inevitable in the life of every such seeker who intends to progress on the way of salvation.
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