Steadfastness In Spiritual Practice
Swami Chidananda

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Radiant Immortal Atman! Blessed and beloved children of the Divine! Nishtha means steadfastness, establishment in a certain state. It is a word which does not find a place in raja yoga or in the description of bhakti yoga. In a specific manner it is not a part of your sadhana, yet throughout the individual seeking soul’s spiritual life, it is the key, it is the key to success in his abhyasa (practice), in his sadhana.

Whether you are a Vedantin, whether you are a bhakta, whether you are a raja yogin, whether you are a karma yogin, whatever path you are following, whatever sadhana you are doing, whatever abhyasa you are engaged in, you must be firmly centred in it, and you must refuse to be drawn out of it by any temptation, attraction, any outer force or factor, whether it be an object or a thing, a person, a situation or an enjoyment—by anything in this outer, created universe. After all, what is this created universe? It is but an accumulation of vrittis and things, of names and forms and it is an accumulation of various tempting experiences—you can smell through the nose, taste through the tongue, see through the eye, hear through the ear, or touch through the skin.

The pilgrims who are passing by on the way to Nilakanth are not concerned with Haridwar or Rishikesh or Sivananda Ashram. They have come from villages hundreds of miles around in order to reach Nilakanth. They are only intent upon Nilakanth, reaching Nilakanth, carrying water for Lord Mahadev. Of course, if you ask them where they are going they may tell you, or if a car is coming they will move out of the way. But all that they will do automatically; they are not concerned about it. Their main concern is Nilakanth. They have nishtha, their whole attention is fixed upon Nilakanth.

Even so, you are a traveller upon this earth. You are a pilgrim soul; you have a destination to reach and you are moving towards it. While you are moving towards it, if you allow yourself to be attracted towards some external thing, fall into a temptation, allow yourself to be diverted into a bypass by some attraction, or by some delusion thinking that it is important, or by some idle curiosity or by day-dreaming or giving exaggerated importance to something other than your destination, then you are delayed, your progress is stopped.

Therefore, like a person with a definite destination, resolutely moving towards it and not allowing himself to be distracted or diverted hither and thither, a sadhak or a bhakta or a Yogi is a person of nishtha. He is firmly centred in the Self or absorbed in bhakti bhav and devotional practices, absorbed in the ishta or completely dedicated to an inner state of meditation, always in a state of meditation. But, nevertheless, he would be fulfilling all the necessaries of worldly life, seemingly a part of the scene, but never really a part of the scene.

Even so, be rooted in the Self. Be firmly established in your ideal. Be firmly established in your quest. Be firmly established in your abhyasa. Be firmly established in your resolve. Do not budge from it. Do not allow anything to draw you away from the central quest. That is the hallmark of a uttama adhikari (best qualified aspirant), of a true sadhak.

Again and again in his writings and teachings, Gurudev used the terms determination, tenacity, fixity and firm resolution. Become firmly established, never letting go of the centre, never letting go of the vision of the Goal. No matter how complicated a particular day might be, ever be established in the centre of your life, the quest, the ideal for which you are living. That should not in anyway be affected or altered. The inner promptings of your antahkarana, your consciousness, should always be the same: abidance in God, becoming totally established, nishtha. Nishtha in your abhyasa, nishtha in your sadhana, nishtha in your Yoga and eka-nishtha bhav in all that you do—that is very, very necessary.

Not only is this nishtha necessary for continuously moving towards the Goal and succeeding, it is also very, very necessary as a great armour, a great protection against influences that may try to draw you away from the path. When you are abiding in the Self, when your whole attention is centred upon yoga abhyasa and your sadhana, your inner way, then you have no time to be diverted by others. A hundred different forces or influences or attractions may be around you, but you are not aware, because you have no interest in them, you are no longer concerning yourself with them. Why? Because you have developed nishtha, you are practising nishtha.

Nishtha is your great boon. Nishtha is to be cultivated diligently and firmly adhered to. Continuously strive to strengthen your nishtha. That is your guarantee against all failure, all downward pull, all backsliding. Nishtha is your wealth, nishtha is your strength. Nishtha will be your sure protection.

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