Four Pillars of Sadhana
To live a joyful life means living life with meaning and purpose. It cannot be found in seeking the pleasures of the world. As a spiritual being, it can only be found within.
All who live by these four pillars will find themselves slowly rising above the wild and raging, tumultuous seas of life. They’re like a reed that bends in the wind but doesn’t break.
The one who embraces these will move rapidly in sadhana, untainted by the misery and gloom of those around while striving for a deeper understanding. These are the four central inward traits of joyful living and fall in the order they are listed.
We must understand the fundamental truths of our own existence to the fullest extent possible. What does it mean to be a spiritual being? Do you know yourself in truth? What are your motivations? What are your desires?
A spiritual aspirant should be deeply introspective while striving for purity and selflessness. How can you transform that which you have not seen? It is only by examining your motivations that will you be able to pierce the darkness within.
Are you afraid of what you might find? Don’t be for God’s mercy reaches into every corner of the soul, rewarding you with each step. Always hold yourself to a high standard of truth outwardly and inwardly.
Without true self-knowledge, love is hollow and superficial. In essence, truth is before love. If you do not know yourself, then how can you love another? This question is of paramount importance.
Love is the sweetness of life. With love, life is exciting, enjoyable, and warm. Without love, life is sour, bitter, and cold.
The goal of love should be universal, extending to all others from the very depths of the soul. Love all and live in harmony with all and your joy will know no bounds.
The person who does not love makes himself miserable and sorrowful where there should be rejoicing and fun. Life becomes a stagnant swamp of sorrow or a parched desert of despondence.
Love’s purpose is to help you travel through life, happy and fulfilled. Your joy becomes a fragrant meadow of exquisite flowers waving to the gentle breeze of God’s eternal presence.
We find our fulfillment in action that’s innate within the soul. If one ceases to act, then one is unmotivated or spiritually asleep. Finding delight in exercising one’s physical and mental capacities, maximizes our human potential.
Action is the cure for many ailments, such as boredom or monotony. If you are in mental anguish or suffering, mourn for your situation, but do not stop moving. Inertia is like falling into a cesspool of despair that will prolong the sorrow you already feel.
There were many days I made myself move when I didn’t want to. The sorrow was so deep and penetrating, it was as if every fiber of my being cried out against it. I would walk the four miles to work with misery as my friend, moaning “Why? God, why?” I didn’t know the whys, but I never stopped walking.
Action, too, is the secret to a full life. One who loves God will be filled with incredible energy, for this opens a wider channel to the very source, the Lord within.
The soul will rejoice in expressing this love for God in action, which is a mode of communication that is far deeper than words. Selfless action is a profound prayer of thankfulness and love to the very Source of one’s being.
Humility arises naturally from the devotion and love of a much greater being. This may take the form of the Incarnation or God within the illumined spiritual teacher or buddhisattva.
One does not become humble by thinking about it or by thinking about oneself. The secret is to think about another who is greater.
Rejoice in being who you are at this moment, not by comparison with those you consider inferior. Delight in who you are as a child of God. This action is difficult for the prideful, for the attention must be directed outward, away from oneself.
A lowly and meek person engages in selfless action that purifies the soul rapidly while the one full of pride stumbles over his own feet.
A humble man is easily able to know himself in truth, love with all his being, and act in real freedom. These are the inward traits of a joyous life and the pillars of strength in adversity.
How do we integrate these four traits? Let’s begin by taking a four-mile meditational walk. It helps for all kinds of spiritual ailments, too, such as dry periods of meditation or personal turmoil.
It will also aid those just entering a new chakra and feeling discombobulated while the soul integrates this new chakra into their being-state.
Many days, it was impossible for me to meditate but I could walk. Maybe you are not interested in meditation, and neither was I so come walk with me. It only requires comfortable shoes and a mile counter if you’d like.
Do you prefer another person to walk with? Then do so, but the point of a meditational walk is not to socialize, so there shouldn’t be conversations between you and them. Socializing is interrupting the purpose of a meditational walk which is reflective awareness.
Here we go, my friend. It’s four miles of Self-discovery that brings peace and renewal to the soul.
The first mile you may spend some time clearing your mind. Look at the world around you and focus on the beauty you behold. It’s a wondrous world of miracles that surrounds you.
If you begin to feel a sense of peace, then you are ready for truth. If not, then walk some more. Many times, I walked all four miles before I felt a sense of peace.
I worked ten- or twelve-hour days and walked the four miles home. By that time, I was too exhausted to feel anguish or turmoil and peace flowed. It was only a trickle at first, but it all started with the first step.
Are you ready for truth? If so, let’s begin. The first mile is pondering what truth means for you. Everyone is at a different stage on this spiritual walk and it’s important to define it for yourself.
Truth can only be found by looking within. What does spirituality mean for you? Proselytizing is a burden for the one who must hear it and it won’t increase your spiritual growth. It’s only by living it.
Do you separate or compartmentalize your spirituality? “Oh, this is church on Sunday and that is my devotion. Monday, I will put it aside and go to my job.” All your actions are spiritual and show what kind of person you are always in every area of your life.
This is reflective awareness so let’s go a little deeper. In truth, what were your real motivations for your actions this last week, month, or year? Take any one of them and go deeply about your real intent.
It certainly takes a degree of honesty but how else can you get to the heart of the matter? This is how closely truth and love intertwine. God’s love can’t do this for you and your Atman is already fully aware of your inner motivations.
This exercise is not meant to shame you but to bring it into your conscious awareness. You can’t work on something that you’re not aware of. Ignorance is not bliss.
By bringing your inner motivations into the conscious mind, you are attacking the ego that doesn’t want you to grow spiritually or be aware of who you really are for that would be the death of it.
It would rather you die without knowing, instead. Your ego is your worst enemy and that is an undeniable universal truth.
Now, we have reached the second mile, which is love. What is love? What makes you feel loved? Your ego would say, “If I only had this thing or that, then I’d know God or this person loves me.” If that thing is outside of yourself, then you will never find love.
God’s Love is found through looking inward and upward. The Atman’s reward is peace and joy, and it can’t be found by looking without. It also won’t be found in the pleasure of looking down at another. Pleasures feed the ego while joy feeds the soul. It’s an eternal and everlasting truth.
The amount of love you possess is shown in your actions, so let’s move on to the third mile. It’s an action-oriented mile, but one of reflection. Think of your actions this past week and what you could have done better.
Did you lose your patience with someone and react with hurtful words? Then realign yourself with what a better action would have looked like, or a better response than what was taken.
Do you feel a sense of peace inside that your actions were good? That is the Atman’s response to living within dharma. Do you feel a sense of smugness? That is the ego, keep walking.
If you reflect often, it will begin to create a space where you can stop and think before reacting to every situation around you, like a reed that bends in the wind but doesn’t break.
Another question might be, what would God have done in the same situation? If that is too difficult to imagine, then look up to your buddhisattva or illumined teacher.
Always look within first and then look up to the wise teacher who’s walked the spiritual path before you and understands your struggles.
Now we come to the last mile on our journey. What is humility? Let’s discuss what it’s not first. Humility is not belittling anyone, including yourself.
It’s the spiritual awareness to see yourself and where you are in real terms. By looking up, you can see “I am not the highest, therefore I need to keep reaching for the next ‘star’ or chakra.”
If you look down, then feeding the ego becomes your “reward” which slows down forward progress. God is the highest and yet, you would never find a hint of pride.
You can praise God all day long for His or Her goodness, but God is not impressed. What does impress God is cooperation with others in daily living. If you find that easy, indeed, humility is your friend. If you find cooperation difficult, keep walking.
By integrating these traits in your daily walk with God, you will see new truths, love more deeply, and act more purposefully towards those around you. Your journey only begins when you take the first step.