Twelve Balms of Gilead
Work in Joy.
Learn to pursue sadhana in such a way that you make yourself so joyful, enlightenment must come begging at your door. It truly is possible to transform yourself into a fountain of joy through spiritual disciplines, so much so that you no longer crave enlightenment, except for the certainty about immortality that it will grant. Transform yourself into a Joy Generator, and then you will swim in a Sea of Joy, long before you attain samadhi!
Love the Universe.
A rational mind sees that Love is a joyful, private emotion and that when it is maximized joy operates through one’s being always. A heart full of love is a happy heart; whatever the positions or reactions of the hearts all around! Loving the universe, you will find it easier to love the parts of the universe, the people all around you, and through this love learn to live in harmony which never harms, and always enhances the positive.
Avoid All Harm.
In any situation, however complex or controversial, you will satisfy God’s requirements if you simply avoid making things worse, for those around you. This is one of the Balms of Gilead, that you can take consolation always in having avoided harming others.
Terrible situations demand compassionate action, but if you falter, remember this, it is not your world, but the Father’s. He takes ultimate Responsibility for all that occurs down here, the evil as well as the good. Do what you can, and let Him carry the rest, for it is the burdens to which He is accustomed and will carry until He at last smiles down at a peaceful, trouble-free Earth.
Learn to Relax.
The soul is not meant for continuous work in the embodied state and learning to keep yourself entertained while not working is important in sadhana. Optimum progress requires a balance between work and play, and the farther you go, the more these two areas become similar, until it feels like you are at play always. In the meantime, have a beer, and play a game of pool, ping-pong, soccer, baseball, or ultimate frisbee, with the Lord in mind. You are all God’s children, and like any parent, He loves to sit and watch you having good, clean fun!
Be a Friend.
The best attitude in social situations is, “I will be friendly to all those who are friendly to me.” If everyone takes this attitude, then there is friendship all around! You can only go so far in approaching enemies, who may even harm you for your efforts; but never, ever, turn away a face of friendship! Let the others turn away from you, but never let it be said that you were not friendly to a person who approached you in friendship, with a smile on his or her face, and a warm handshake!
Kindly be Gentle.
Learn to be kind and gentle around others, avoiding all harshness. This is a step beyond ahimsa in a positive direction of goodness, which undoes evil karma and propels you forward on the spiritual path.
A kind, gentle person never wounds the sensibilities of others, and thus he ascends in his own sensibilities, coming to know his precious subtler side very well. You cannot reach the higher things in your own soul unless you respect the existence of these in others, which is the real meaning of “kindness,” and the quintessence of “gentleness.”
Warmly be Generous.
Things do not matter, but people do. Learn to share your material possessions with detachment. In reality, it’s just a shuffle of atoms. Keep yourself and your family comfortable and secure, but also give to those in need; and your own heart will thank you, burning with a fire of warmth and inner security, to add to your outer security achieved through work and savings. “I helped someone” is another of the Balms of Gilead that you can apply any time you are feeling lonely and blue, or concerned about your immortal destiny past death’s dreaded doorway.
Action is Good.
The spiritual path is a path of ascending energy, so learn to be active mentally and physically. When you master the energies you possess, more will be granted to you from deep within, or the Source of all energy. It is important to know when actions are wise or not, but in general, action is better than inaction. In a sense, the soul is a verb, not a noun, and a flow of energy and growth, not a static entity. Learn to go with the flow and to keep it going, which is half the secret of happiness!
Watch your Step.
Be aware that danger lurks around egoic folk always and remember that as a spiritual aspirant, you deserve all the benefits which society bestows. If worse comes to worst, then put on an act, pretending to be one of them and not a striver for enlightenment.
This mask is itself a form of sadhana, as you sidestep the hateful in wisdom. Don’t put yourself in compromising situations, and don’t give the world any excuse to persecute you. Obey all laws, and never act in ways others may regard as too unusual. If you are in “divine madness,” then learn to make acting not mad a vital part of your sadhana; in growing close to samadhi, you should be wise enough to see the danger!
Life is Sacred.
Each moment is precious, and each day is valuable. Every thought and act contributes to your forward progress or holds you back, depending on your inner dexterity and power, which though it may not be perfect, should always be growing.
Whether you know it or not, you are always immersed in a bath of religion, because you are an enlightenable entity; and how long will it be before you attain? Everything that lives is holy and wonderful, with tremendous profound depths extending into Brahman Himself; and coming to see this is to live in a land of wonder, amazement, power, and eternal glory!
Hard is Better.
If you have a choice of doing a hard thing or an easy thing (both of which are within your capacity), learn to do the hard thing first, which will save you from the mental anguish of procrastination, as well as fill you with vim and vigor as you really come to life, in all your mental and physical faculties and capacities.
You will feel really satisfied if you learn to take on challenges in this way, and since everyone’s life is full of hard things, doing them first, your relaxation afterward will be that much sweeter! Saying, “I met all the hard challenges, head on” is another of the Balms of Gilead. You can discover by trying it and observing the results, and as the days, weeks, months, and years pass by, you may begin to wonder what it all might mean…
Learn to Try.
Sadhana is really trying, trying, trying. Try to go forward, and you will eventually – go forward! Good sadhana is always thinking, “I will try,” and thus, never failing to make an effort of some kind, at virtually every moment. Even enjoying your life in non-harm requires effort and is a divine skill that very few master.
If you learn to keep yourself in a state of perpetual enjoyment of living, this is really optimal sadhana, because it is the reassurance of the Self that you are growing closer and closer, going faster and faster to the goal. “I always tried my hardest, giving my best effort” is the last of the Balms of Gilead that’s revealed here, and yet there are many more; how many, can you find?