Samskaras of Spiritual Practices

Disciple says, “Gurudev, a few years ago I visited my grandmother. She said, ‘Dear child! I seem to have become forgetful lately. I go to get something, but then forget to get it.’ However, she clearly remembers an incident regarding her gold jewelry that took place fifty years ago. She forgets what happened just five minutes ago …. but can clearly remember things that happened fifty years ago. Please tell me how can old samskaras be so strong? Now if this is true, then what happens to the samskara of our spiritual practices. Please help me understand this.”

Gurudev says, “You have asked an excellent question.

Listen, with the help of a story, I will explain this to you. There was a town that was suffering from a famine. The town was surrounded by a lot of greenery, trees, and mountains and it would receive a lot of rainfall too. But the summer months were very harsh, and the town would face drought conditions. One day, a monk happened to come to this town. All the villagers gathered around him and narrated their condition. They asked him for a solution.

The monk replied, ‘When the monsoons arrive, we will tour the entire region and then we will see what can be done.’

Monsoons arrived and the town received ample rainfall. The monk and the villagers started touring the region. The monk was observing and inspecting everything very carefully.

He gathered all the villagers and said, ‘All the rainwater is just flowing away in all directions. As a result, you are unable to use any of it. All of you need to come together to stop the water run-off. Have only a single channel for water to flow through. Then, the water will have only one path through which it can flow. This will build enough force to convert the tiny water stream into a bigger stream. The stream will become a brook, and eventually a river. This river will be a lifesaver. Water that flows in all directions quickly evaporates and becomes useless’.”

Gurudev says, “Now tell me, what did you understand from this story?”

Disciple says, “Please explain this to me Gurudev!”

Gurudev says, “This is what happens with our samskaras. A continuous flow of good samskaras will take us to our destination. Just as there is a continuous abhisheka on the Shivalinga, similarly our spiritual practices should be continuous and uninterrupted.”

Gurudev continues, “Whatever good/bad samskaras we create in the morning are carried forward in the afternoon and then through the evening. Samskaras that we have created were there yesterday, continue today and will be there tomorrow. They will exist throughout the current year, will continue into the following year and into our next lifetimes. We are born with them and they will still be with us when we give up this body.
Hence, the only form of gurudakshina for our Guru is to hold on to the good samskaras with dear life, making it a habit of continual and uninterrupted spiritual practices. A doctor advises his patients to take their medications daily. If the patient takes his medicines all at once, will the patient be cured? Will it serve the purpose of the medication?”

Disciple says, “No Gurudev.”

Gurudev says, “This means, good samskaras must be created every minute of every day. Only then will we be able to surpass the impressions of the bad samskaras and erase them completely from our minds. Bad samskaras have accumulated over our many lifetimes and they are strongly engraved on our mind. It is not easy to get rid of them. But daily practice of meditating on the Divine will begin to remove the impressions slowly. Once the past impressions are erased, only then will our lives become truly divine!

Now, let’s turn to your grandmother. After the incident took place, she was very disturbed and hence she must have discussed the incident with many. Since she kept talking about it, it became her samskara. That is why we must be alert every second of every minute. Evaluate every situation to see if it is creating a positive or a negative impression on the mind.

Gurudev explains further, “Knowingly or unknowingly our own outlook creates an impression on our mind. At some time or another, that impression will surface and cause misery. Hence regular spiritual practice is essential. It will help erase these samskaras and purify our mind. As the mind becomes purer, our lives become more fulfilling.”

Gurudev says, “Let’s gain this experience now…
Sit calmly…
Close your eyes and completely relax your body
Focus your attention on your breath…
You have blessings from the Guru lineage, ‘May your spiritual practice blossom (‘साधन समृद्धिरस्तु)’.”