Main Impediments To Sadhana


Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is a chapter from the book Sadhana.

The spiritual path is thorny, rugged, precipitous, steep and slippery. But it is nothing for a man who has virtuous qualities and a Brahma Nishtha Guru to guide him.

The spiritual path is doubtless beset with various difficulties. It is the razor path. You will fall down several times. But you will have to rise up quickly and walk again with more zeal, boldness and cheerfulness. Every stumbling block will become a stepping-stone to success or ascent in the hill of spiritual knowledge.

Every aspirant will have to face various sorts of difficulties in the spiritual path. You need not be discouraged. Muster all your strength and courage and march afresh on the path with redoubled vigour and energy.

If you can give up idle talks and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others, you will be free from all sorts of obstacles that crop up in your way.

If worldly thoughts try to enter the mind, reject them. Have steady devotion to the spiritual path.

Know things in their proper light. Emotion is mistaken for devotion; violent jumping in the air during Sankirtan for divine ecstasy; falling down in swoon on account of exhaustion from too much jumping for Bhava Samadhi; Rajasic restlessness and motion for divine activities and Karma; a Tamasic man for a Sattvic man; movement of air in rheumatism in the back for ascent of Kundalini; Tandri and deep sleep for Samadhi; Manorajya or building castles in the air for meditation; physical nudity for Jivanmukti state. These are the obstacles in the spiritual path. A Sadhaka should discard them ruthlessly and march forward.

Depression, doubt and fear are some of the main obstacles even for an advanced student in the spiritual path. They should be removed by right enquiry and good association.

Sometimes depression will come and trouble you. The mind will revolt. The senses will pull your legs. The undercurrent of Vasanas will gush to the surface of the mind and torment you. Sensuous thoughts will agitate the mind and try to overwhelm you. Be bold. Stand adamant. Face these passing obstacles. Do not identify yourself with these obstacles. Increase your period of Japa. All these obstacles will pass away.

Doubt or uncertainty is a great obstacle in the path of Self-realisation. It bars the spiritual progress. This must be removed by good company, study of religious books, right thinking and right reasoning. It should be killed beyond resurrection by certainty of conviction and firm unshakable faith based on reasoning.

The Vasanas are very powerful. The senses and the mind are very turbulent and impetuous. Again and again the battle must be fought and won. That is the reason why the spiritual path is called the razor path. There is no difficulty for a man of strong determination and iron will even in the razor path.

Passion is lurking in you. It is the deadliest enemy of a spiritual aspirant. From passion proceed anger and other evil qualities, which destroy the spiritual wealth of an aspirant.

Leakage of energy, hidden under-current of Vasanas, lack of sense-control, slackness in Sadhana, waning of dispassion, lack of intense aspiration, irregularity in Sadhana are the various obstacles in the path of Self-realisation.

Overloading the stomach, work that produces fatigue or exhaustion, too much talking, taking heavy food at night, too much mixing with people are obstacles for a spiritual aspirant.

Give up arguing. Become silent. Do not indulge in sundry talks and miscellaneous thoughts just to ease the mind. Be serious. Think and talk of God and God alone.

Power, name, fame and wealth stiffen the ego. They strengthen the personality. Hence renounce them if you want success in spiritual path.

Desire for powers will act like puffs of air which may blow out the lamp of spirituality that is being carefully tended. Any slackness in feeding it due to carelessness or selfish desires for Siddhis will blow out the little spiritual light that the Yogi has kindled after so much struggle and will hurl the student down into the deep abyss of ignorance. Temptations are simply waiting to overwhelm the unwary student. Temptations of the astral, mental and Gandharva worlds are more powerful than the earthly temptations.

Various psychic Siddhis and other powers come to the Yogin who has controlled his senses, Prana and mind. But these are all hindrances to Self-realisation. They are stumbling blocks.

Stop the Vrittis. Still the mind. Overcome the Vrittis that rise up from the bed of impressions. Face all the obstacles boldly and come out victoriously with the crown of success, i.e., Self-realisation.

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