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„INTRODUCTION  TO  AGNI  YOGA“

 

BROADCASTING  20

 

Rejoice at Obstacles!

 

 

Dear Agni Yogis,

 

today we shall be addressing, after the meaning of life and the meaning of suffering, the third cornerstone of a happy life: the usefulness of obstacles.

 

You will actually learn to love the terrible, unspiritual conditions and the stones which they throw onto your path every day. Thereby, you transform thorns into roses, and your everyday existence is transfigured into a paradise.

 

People should realize that the supermundane path cannot be one of discontent. Thorns turn to roses when the wayfarer learns to love the beautiful horizon. (Supermundane 792)

 

Our topic is of the utmost importance. That is why the Mahatmas are coming back to it again and again. A different attitude to obstacles distinguishes the New from the old man.

 

The disciple asks, "What kind of obstacles do you have in mind?"

 

You know only too well: Each and every day, a multitude of difficulties stands in the way of your personal development: Hardship, misery, poverty, weakness, illness, distractions, temptations, the family, the state, the needs of others, and much more.

 

*****

 

Your plans, ideas and ideals for improving the conditions in your environment and in the world as a whole encounter strong opposition every day: The resistance of matter, the inertia of other people, the inflexibility of the old order, lack of freedom, oppression, and so on.

 

Therefore, it is imperative for you to find the right attitude towards obstacles, these perhaps most important features of your everyday life.

 

 

1. Difficulties are unavoidable

Léon Bonnat „Job“

 

"Why are there so many stones on my path? Why does one not let me move forward unhindered?"

 

You have to realize: Obstacles are inevitable and necessary. Without black there is no white, without evil no good.

 

Satisfaction is within reach of those disciples who value the clouds, realizing that without clouds the sun would scorch. (Agni Yoga 110)

 

No human being has ever been and will never be able to escape the oppressions which the sojourn on the material level necessarily entails.

 

The life of Job is a classic example of the fact that on the earthly path everyone without exception is exposed to suffering and hardship in abundance. (Léon Bonnat "Job")

 

One of the most important statements of Agni Yoga is:

 

It is impossible to avoid the obstacles of the path. (Agni Yoga 656)

 

Allow this sentence to melt on your tongue. You cannot repeat it often enough:

 

You cannot evade obstacles!

 

With the precision of a law of nature, they inevitably turn up again and again each and every day.

 

"What follows from this? Resignation?"

 

No! On the contrary, a new realization: The external circumstances are of no importance. He who puts the blame for his problems on the difficulty of conditions, has as yet failed to understand the foundations of existence.

 

People are attempting to justify themselves by the complexity of life, but it is more accurate to explain this as aimless dispersion of thinking. (Brotherhood 330)

 

You have to take the proper mental attitude: Stop moaning about what is inevitable. Better welcome joyfully anything that is necessary and that furthermore has a deep meaning.

 

Let us now discuss how you can acquire such a more appropriate attitude.

 

 

2. Obstacles and the Law of Correspondence  

 

The law of correspondence states: Nothing that gets in your way is accidental, meaningless or arbitrary.

 

You encounter exactly that difficulty which is necessary for your further ascent.

 

Therefore, be grateful for the wealth of obstacles on your path! They are there for your own benefit!

 

Do not even try to bypass them or to postpone your coping with them. That would only yield one result: You will meet them again and again later – and that exactly until you have learned what you are supposed to learn from them.

 

Let us accept the greater burden, which will bring us sooner to liberation. And while those who did not accept the whole burden will have to return for the part left behind, we shall, with all the joy of our hearts, fulfill the next coming task. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 06.10.1932)

 

 

3. Growth only through Difficulties

 

First of all you have to know:

 

Only by obstacles can we grow.

 

Our physical existence is constricted by resistance. For the soul, on the other hand, an obstacle is an occasion for ascent.

 

We ascend by obstacles. (Infinity II, 648 [248])

 

Only in spheres where a shadow veils the vision can the spirit seek the Light. Only where the shadow stands behind its back can the spirit display its strength. Only where the shadow conceals the far-off worlds can the spirit reveal its power of discrimination. Therefore, the growth of the spirit is quickened through obstacles. (Infinity II, 539 [139])

 

There is a universal law which applies to everybody and to everything, in physics as well as in spiritual life, and which we should not bemoan but use. It says:

 

Resistance is a condition of progress.

 

Who can foresee precisely what counterblow will put new circumstances into motion? But without a blow, matter will not be brought into motion. Only those who understand the creative substance will realize that what is said is not merely encouragement but the just assertion of a law. One may turn the law into a misfortune, but it is correct to apprehend the usefulness issuing from the foundations of being. (Fiery World I, 271)

 

The science of aerodynamics teaches us: Airplanes or kites can only rise against the wind.

 

"What does that mean for my life?"

 

Just consider: How can you manage to get up higher if there are no steps in front of you that you may climb?

 

If the mountain is perfectly smooth, one cannot ascend to the summit. Blessed are the stones that tear the sandals of those who ascend! (Agni Yoga 406)

 

One should grow to love all the obstacles, for the stones on the path are but the steps of ascent. Long ago was it said that one does not ascend by a smooth stone. (Brotherhood 25)

 

We even go one step further: As in physics the rule applies: The stronger the resistance, the greater the potential for luminosity.

 

Luminosity corresponds to a certain degree of tension. (AUM 591)

 

The inner fires are basically analogous to electric light. The greater the tension, the more intense the light. (Hierarchy 277)

 

Take the example of a pump: The stronger the downward pressure, the higher the jet of water goes up on the other side.

 

This example shows: The deeper you are being pressed downwards, the more you are forced to strive upwards. Thereby you use, develop and strengthen your spiritual power. Without this pressure, it would remain idle and go limp.

 

The process by which energy is strengthened is similar to the workings of a pump. Thus, the upward impetus of energy is sure to be conditioned by the downward pressure. People usually regard this pressure as misfortune or failure, whereas it is the physical threshold of ascent.

It is sad to see how uninformed people, not understanding the law of the pump, fall into oppression. It would be so easy for these masses to lose sight of the fact that oppression is the gate to ascent. (Heart 45)

 

The proper attitude towards the inevitable obstacles is therefore: Understand resistance as an incentive to double your efforts, and thus ascend all the safer, the faster and the higher.

 

You should look forward to each act of oppression as a source of the tension preceding a leap. (Heart 228)

 

Only a spirit impelled to creativeness can be conscious of that power which is contained in counteraction. It is necessary to accept the law of counteraction as a stimulus of creativeness; the stimulus which strengthens each construction. (Fiery World III, 212)

 

 

4. Difficulties are Opportunities

 

Do you really wish to lead a life as in the land of milk and honey: Without worries, hardships and problems, where the brownies take over all necessary labour, and fried chicken are flying into your mouth? This is understandable, but the wrong attitude from a spiritual point of view. Recognize:

 

An easy life does not allow you to make progress: It offers no opportunities to grow.

 

For him who wishes an easy life it is better not to live at all. (AUM 190)

 

Who would choose for himself the easy way of an unperturbed existence? Who would choose for himself the role of spectator at a battle? (Agni Yoga 165)

 

A refined consciousness tells them that one difficult earthly life is of more value than many easy ones. (Supermundane 621)

 

The slackness of a life without tension and struggle with opposing forces is terrible.

 

Without dangers and tensions man goes down. (Supermundane 313)

 

The stillness of a cemetery can be more frightful than the whistling of the wind. (Agni Yoga 151)

 

Are not the difficulties that arise preferable to dead silence? (Agni Yoga 444)

 

What ordinary people regard as a calm life is nothing but extinction of fire. They have even invented entire systems of extinguishing fire from early childhood. (Fiery World I, 201)

 

As an immortal, you look at all the ugliness and difficulties of your everyday life from a completely different angle: sub specie aeternitatis, as the ancient Romans said. From the standpoint of eternity, seen through the eyes of your soul, you perceive:

 

All adversities are opportunities that allow your higher, spiritual self to continue its ascent!

 

Cast the sunlight of the Self obliquely on the cares of daily life, and they will swiftly turn to golden opportunities. (From the Mountain Top Vol. I, lesson “The Golden Opportunity”)

 

I rejoice if you understand that obstacles are really opportunities. (Agni Yoga 494)

 

Every impediment must be made the birth of a possibility. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 349 [353])

 

Here is one of the most important phrases that the Masters wish to plant into to our hearts:

 

Friends, until impediments appear to us as the birth of possibilities, we will not understand the Teaching. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 349 [353])

 

"So what should I do?"

 

Change your consciousness! If you come across an obstacle, no longer think, "What a hassle!" or "Alas, poor me, that too!" Rather rejoice: "Thanks, now I may grow greater!"

 

*****

 

You have to recognize: Every difficulty is an opportunity sent from above, which has only one purpose: To enable you to grow further! You must not let pass this chance! On the contrary, you have to welcome it, even to look for it!

 

The magic formula for a happy life, for a real transfiguration of your entire everyday existence is:

 

Do not skip any adversity, but make use of each of them for your further ascent!

 

One must not spill a single possibility. (Community 161)

 

Every hour of earthly life offers you a unique, non-recurring opportunity either to get closer to or to move away from the higher worlds.

 

Each new day offers new possibilities for approaching the limitless growth. (Infinity I, 113)

 

The very purpose of your existence on the material level is exactly to offer you an abundance of such opportunities! In the afterlife there will be none of them anymore! There you will deplore each and every opportunity you missed during your past incarnation!

 

Expand your worldview! Then there will soon be no more obstacles, but just tasks.

 

A yogi possesses an outlook that is unlimited. For a yogi, the meeting with opposition is merely a challenge for great victory. Man rarely admits that opposition can be of real benefit to him. Many examples can be cited of people who gained victory because of their broad outlook. Even when they encountered seemingly insoluble problems, they could find their way thanks to their broad approach. Thus one can affirm that the breadth of perception is the shield of a yogi. (Supermundane 870)

 

Life itself proves: Especially difficult conditions such as poverty or other misfortune, even physical infirmities can promote the inner development, if one meets them with the right attitude.

 

The most onerous conditions contribute to a deepening of thought. Lack of means favours refinement of consciousness. (AUM 287)

 

We know of many achievements, when people consciously overcame physical adversities and made of their shortcomings the best adornments. Such discipline of the will is in itself an achievement. (AUM 504)

 

We see everywhere in nature: Hard conditions produce particularly strong creatures because they are forced to muster all their strength to survive.

 

Even in the most straitened conditions, it is possible to receive restoration and reinforcement. Often a plant is fortified between stones far more soundly than in rich soil. The straitened conditions merely guide the roots into crevices and reinforce them against whirl-winds. (Fiery World II, 319)

 

History teaches: The higher someone wishes to rise, the harder is the path he has to walk.

 

The high spirit strives to a difficult path, while the weak one clings to laziness and cowardice. People come to Us only by difficult paths. Not one Brother, not one Sister can be named who did not come by a difficult path. Each One could have chosen an easier path, but did not in order to hasten the ascent. (Supermundane 83)

 

Only the ignorant seek relief. The spiritual disciple strives for achievement!

 

They should not be enticed by the thought of easy attainment. Once the choice is made, the strong in spirit will come to love the difficult path, for how otherwise will they test themselves? It is a great mistake to think that all inventions are only to make life pleasant. (AUM 522)

 

It is not an easy life, but a life tensed and saturated with difficulties that brings achievement; therefore, it is so very important to learn to love obstacles. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 30.03.1936)

 

Seeking the mirage of alleviation does not lead to achievement. The most difficult offers the best access. People do not wish to understand that persistent striving awakens powerful energies. (Fiery World II, 324)

 

Your immortal soul is indifferent to the fate of the perishable personality. It wants to grow! Therefore, obstacles are just welcome to it!

 

The refined spirit, while on Earth, longs for struggle and progress. For such a spirit, any pain or shock is but an impetus for achievement. The refined nature does not seek personal well-being, for it strives toward perfection. (Supermundane 505) 

 

 

5. Make use of Obstacles!  

 

A real transfiguration of your life takes place when you discover a new way of thinking:

 

The wise man actually uses the physical obstacles in order to grow spiritually.

 

You may actually employ all the imperfections and adversities of which your material life is so rich in order to climb up step by step on the spiritual level.

 

Although much is spoken about obstacles, little use is made of them. Understanding how to make use of obstacles infuses joy into one’s work. Let us learn to rejoice at obstacles, knowing that the welcomed obstacle can be used to speed success. (Agni Yoga 262)

 

If you realize that each obstacle is a benefit for the growth of the spirit, you are already on the Path. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 17.05.1937)

 

The Master gives a vivid example:

 

Poor is the master craftsman who does not make use of all the riches of nature. For the skillful carver, a bent tree is a precious treasure. Only an impoverished imagination is satisfied with the limits set by others. The true master develops great sharp-sightedness and resourcefulness in himself. (Fiery World I, 472)

 

"What does that mean for me?"

 

From now on, you look at every resistance as a task that you have to deal with. You do not complain. You do not scold. You do not curse. Rather, you strain all your forces in order to overcome the obstacle. By doing so, you increase the power of your spirit, and in the end you will have grown greater and stronger than before.

 

*****

 

Even if you fail on the material level, your spiritual power grows alone through the fighting. None of your efforts will ever be in vain. Each one takes you one step further.

 

When you realize that, you can make the apparent disadvantage serve you and turn it into an advantage.

 

No motion is possible without tension. Know that no obstructive tensions will occur without being of benefit. (Agni Yoga 656)

 

St. Catherine of Siena revealed the appropriate attitude towards the oppressions of earthly life: She endeavoured to turn every misfortune into a benefit by deriving a profit from it, namely, progress on the spiritual path:

 

Here is significant feature of Catherine: Every attack of the demons, every hostility on the part of the people worked to her benefit. She said: If we only knew how to use the grace of God, all that we receive could bring us nothing but profit and no harm. If you meet something new on your path, be it luck or misfortune, always think to yourself: I certainly will extract a profit from that! (Raymond of Capua, 122, 123)

 

All things are working together for good to those who have love for God. (Romans 8, 28)

 

 

6. The Usefulness of Enemies

Albrecht Altdorfer „The Battle of Alexander“

 

Properly used, even your enemies can only benefit you.

 

Know how to turn attacks to advantage. Desire many enemies, but do not make them. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 111)

 

Enemies are the source of straining of energy. Nothing can so greatly increase the energy as opposition. (Hierarchy 319)

 

You should not forget that persecution is the greatest success. Only a taut string can resound. (Heart 24)

 

Every struggle with an enemy compels you to strain the power of your spirit to the utmost, whereby it grows ever stronger.

 

A victory achieved is a step in the ascent. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 18.06.1935)

 

Growth is achieved only through fighting with opposing forces. (Albrecht Altdorfer "The Battle of Alexander ")

 

Each stone cast at you raises your tower. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 363 [426])

 

Every stone brought by the enemy will provide a step for the victory. Thus, We truly utilize each obstacle. (Infinity II, 716 [316])

 

The Teaching presents an impressive picture:  

 

When a bird of paradise was asked from where its brilliant feathers came, it answered, “Many poisoned arrows glanced off me and the most virulent poison gave me the best hue.” (Agni Yoga 453)

 

"Thus I am grateful even to my enemy for the development he enables me to take?"

 

Yes! In fact, Agni Yoga says:

 

Your enemy is no less important to you than your teacher!

 

The Teacher and the enemy are cornerstones. My advice is that the significance of the Teacher and the need for enemies must be understood. (Agni Yoga 656)

 

To the deceiving one say, “How useful is thy deceit to me.” To the usurping one say, “Evidently the time has arrived for me to receive new things. But verily it is better for thee not to touch my things. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 123)

 

When you are great, you will surely have many and eminent enemies!

 

Everyone has his enemy. The importance of one’s enemy indicates one’s own importance, just as the size of a shadow is determined by the size of the object. (Agni Yoga 270)

 

The stronger the light, the denser the darkness. (Brotherhood 580)

 

The strong one rejoices at every new enemy.

 

Much energy is generated precisely by the actions of our enemies. A famous Ruler used to say, “Today I become considerably stronger, for I face a new and powerful enemy.” One should view enemies as steps of ascent. (Supermundane 483)

 

Akbar, called the Great, regarded his enemies with attention. His favourite counselor kept a list of his enemies. Akbar often inquired, “Has not some worthy name appeared on the list? When I see a worthy name, I will send my greeting to the friend in disguise.” (Agni Yoga 270)

 

Therefore, popular wisdom says:

 

The more enemies the more honour.

 

 

7. The worse, the better

 

It sounds paradoxical, but is proven by experience: Especially hard times offer particularly great opportunities for spiritual ascent.

 

Let the straitened times also be blessed. Precisely at such times do we learn to distinguish the significant from the mediocre. In the days of contentment our vigilance becomes obscured. Hence oppression and tension are so precious. They not only increase vigilance and impetuosity, they also force new fires from our innermost depths. Thus, let us grow to love the unexpected as the source of new joy. (Fiery World I, 10)

 

Let us keep in mind that the most difficult hour can be the threshold of new achievement. (Brotherhood 467)

 

In his book, "On Providence," Seneca advises the strong one to ask for a hard fate, because that is the only way he can prove his value.

 

The reason for this is: The commitment to high ideals is only one side of the coin. The crucial progress is their realization in earthly life. For this, difficult conditions offer the best opportunities:

 

The more adverse the circumstances, the greater the achievement of the one who overcomes them!

 

Therefore, if you want to show what lies hidden within you, you will be asking for great difficulties.

 

Again people will approach with the question as to how to deal with obstacles. Some are handicapped by family, some by distasteful occupation, some by poverty, some by attacks of enemies. But a good horseman likes to practice upon untrained horses, and prefers the obstacle of rough ground and ditches to a level roadway. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 349 [353])

 

To the strong spirit the difficult time shows the shortest path. Let us welcome all the difficulties. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 11.02.1929)

 

We had already talked about the example of Plato: Being one of the greatest thinkers in human history, he nevertheless welcomed being sold into slavery because by this terrible test he was able to accelerate his ascent even further.

 

The Teacher [Plato] allowed Himself to be sold into slavery so that His earthly path might be fulfilled as quickly as possible. He knew and profoundly felt all earthly hardships in full measure, and succeeded in gathering vast experience during His life on Earth. (Supermundane 179)

 

"Thus, we should be grateful for today's particularly grave and spiritually hostile times, because they offer us better opportunities to rise than calmer epochs?"

 

Yes, just harken:

 

You, whose karma has brought you into the thick of the fight of the 19th and 20th centuries, and has given you opportunities for advancement spiritually, mentally and physically, far beyond those given to any race. Not a day passes over your heads which does not bring to you tests and opportunities, which, if taken advantage of, may place you far on the path leading to Adeptship. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 14 “Dangers of the Astral Plane”)

 

We can even go so far as to say:

 

The worse, the better.

 

The more attacks there are the more possibilities approach. (Infinity II, 775 [375])

 

It may be noticed that sometimes especially large upheavals have far less destructive effect on the organism than small ones. The reason is that during the large upheavals psychic energy begins to act in a special manner, manifesting a powerful protection. During small agitations the protection may not be so strong.

Long ago it was said that through great upheavals the spirit grows strong and the consciousness is purified. But in such processes the primary energy will be the principal factor. Therefore, let us not be distressed if it be brought into action in one particular way. It is far worse when something petty undermines the organism, and the salutary force is inactive.

Such a situation must be recognized; otherwise people will begin to strive for the small and will be content with the mediocre. The store of psychic energy must be supplemented. Without pressure it does not receive the Higher Help. Even the enigmatic saying, “the worse, the better,” has a certain foundation. (Brotherhood 240)

 

On the Spiritual Path, as opposed to a material way, actually applies: The heavier the load, the shorter the path.

 

Let us be ready to take any burden, remembering that the heavier the burden the shorter will be our path. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 15.01.1931) 

 

 

8. Striving causes Opposition

 

Inevitably, your striving will encounter resistance. This is already taught by physics.

 

When a large ship increases its speed the resistance of the waves increases too. Similarly, many obstacles are brought about by our own striving. (Agni Yoga 257)

 

An abutment of a bridge is far more assailed by the waves than is a swamp. The sand of the swamp does not undergo as much from the movement of the water as does the pier standing firm against the current. (Fiery World II, 264)

 

He who strives forward must face the storm. There are few who would stand in a downpour of rain or pelting hail even for the sake of hastening their progress! (Supermundane 198)

 

"Who or what causes this resistance?"

 

The forces of darkness, who else! When you enter the spiritual path, you may be sure: With all their means they will throw obstacles on your way!

 

One should not forget how many stones are cast upon the path of ascent. (Fiery World I, 200)

 

A man who ascends feels much more deeply the assault of the unbridled elements. (Fiery World II, 91)

 

This is not an old wives’ tale about the devil and his comrades. This is an experience based on facts.

 

Constructive striving always evokes opposition; hence, there are such battles under Our Shield. (Infinity II, 636 [236])

 

According to the law of correspondence, your pursuit of good will attract evil forces as well.

 

Just as a galloping horse raises a cloud of dust, the magnet of psychic energy stirs up a whirlpool of chaos. (Supermundane 278)

 

Every evolutionary step evokes the fury of chaos. (Supermundane 320)

 

The higher you climb, the stronger this resistance will become.

 

The brighter the light, the denser the darkness. (Supermundane 266)

 

With gradual ascent the ferocity of the attacks will increase. (Supermundane 562)

 

When a definite cosmic possibility is affirmed, all obstacles are intensified. Space then resounds with the tension of cosmic fires and the dark forces are very taut. Consequently, decisive battles take place. (Infinity II, 859 [459])

 

You cannot imagine all this lively enough: You are actually being attacked for the purpose of hurting or even destroying you.

 

The higher the personage, the more spiritually inclined the individual, the greater the glee on the part of the Disintegrator if indention or cleavage can be made upon the aura. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson “If we knew”)

 

The onslaught of the dark forces is actually the best proof for your being on a high, bright path: The higher you ascend, the more dangerous you become for the sinister side.

 

The greatest manifestations are especially bespattered with refuse. (Heart 134)

 

Persecution, slander and obstacles grow in proportion with progress. Thus, if your intention is firm, be prepared for tests. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 17.05.1937)

 

Every worker for good is attacked by the dark forces. They should understand that it was their very presence that provoked chaos. A strong individual will recognize that it is preferable to arouse chaos than to allow himself to become part of the unmanifested substance. The fury of chaos is the highest recognition of the worker. (Supermundane 240)

 

When you do not meet any resistance or enemies, you are probably on a humble path only.

 

It is a sad situation if one is not subjected to attacks. This means that one’s energy is in a very weak state and does not provoke any counteractions. Only the unenlightened consider attacks as misfortune. (Brotherhood 94)

 

When on the contrary destiny puts major obstacles in your way, it certainly has big plans for you.

 

The growth of obstacles is the best indicator of the greatness of the task. (Infinity II, 842 [442])

 

 

9. Obstacles strengthen the Spirit

Nicholas Roerich „Forging the Sword - Nibelung“

 

When you rest firmly and securely within yourself and in the Order of the Cosmos; when you are on the right track and know your destination; when you are selflessly striving to promote the truth and the good – then, but only then obstacles can but work to increase the power of your spirit.

 

He who carries the knowledge of the future can walk boldly even upon shaky stones. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 217)

 

When the step is firm, the counterforces are beneficial. (Agni Yoga 257)

 

The difficulties and struggles of life steel the forces of your spirit.

 

It is correct that the spirit can be tempered only in life. The overcoming of life’s difficulties will bring the spirit its spark. (Fiery World III, 94)

 

A sword is tempered with fire and cold water; likewise, the spirit will be strengthened in the fire of exaltation and under the cold of defamations and ingratitude. (Brotherhood 182)

 

One’s weapon is sharpened by battle, otherwise it will become rusty. (Supermundane 928)

 

Agni Yoga chooses a most impressive picture:

 

The forging of a sword in the flame under the blow of a hammer is the best illustration of how one tempers one’s psychic energy. (Agni Yoga 602)

 

If you just stand firm and do not deviate from the path, you cannot but grow on obstacles.

 

Swimmers, if you do everything possible within your strength, whither can the most destructive wave carry you? It can only bear you upwards. (Community 41)

 

Despair is destructive, but the extreme limit of tension is constructive. (AUM 438)

 

Already the ancient Romans proclaimed:

 

Ex adversis rebus fortior resurgo – From adverse circumstances, I emerge stronger.

 

For a strong spirit, there is no difficulty that could not be overcome.

 

The obstacles of life cannot influence the quality of aspiration. (Community 227)

 

This is the liberty of a yogi: nothing can hinder his progress. (Agni Yoga 259)

 

There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome by the human will. I do not say this as a consolation, or for encouragement, but as an immutable fact. (Agni Yoga 393)

 

"But there are problems which I am unable to solve."

 

Certainly. But as long as you are walking the spiritual path unwaveringly, your Eternal Individuality will grow even if your perishable personality fails on the material plane.

 

Man can overcome all hindrances if the goal of his journey is clear to him. When he sees the Light in the distance, he will pay no attention to the hardships of the journey. He will not count the steps to this Light, for it shines also in his heart. (Supermundane 634)

 

He who wishes to live, lives. Amazing is the ability to withstand danger when the meaning of life is clear. (Community 268)

 

A wealth of examples from history shows that the character, power, and greatness of a human being develop exactly by overcoming difficulties!

 

 

10. Obstacles are Tests

Nicholas Roerich „The Temptation of Christ”

 

Obstacles are tests of your progress. The whole earthly stay is one great test.

 

Every shock is but a touchstone. (Heart 228)

 

How can you know whether you are truly invulnerable, invincible and fearless? You will not find that out on the sofa at home, but only in an hour of danger.

 

The same goes for all other qualities: They have to prove themselves in the middle of earthly life. In order to make this testing possible, fate keeps putting you in difficult situations again and again.

 

The degree of courage is tested by the power of the danger being confronted, true courage waxing stronger as the intensity of the danger increases. (Heart 484)

 

The true measure of devotion is revealed only at times of difficulty. (Agni Yoga 251)

 

One ought to test all useful qualities. It is not enough to imagine courage, tolerance, devotion, and all that goes to make up the armour of achievement. Each one can imagine himself brave, but in action it often turns out to the contrary. One needs to oppose oneself to great terror in order to prove to oneself whether or not fear can creep in. When I speak about growth’s dependence upon obstacles, I have in mind just such testings in actions. (AUM 504)

 

"Fate places obstacles in my way; that again is somewhat abstract."

 

It is best to regard all the adversities piling up before you on each new day as sent by your teacher! He sets you tasks in order to test you and to supervise your progress. You will do your best to solve them as well as possible.

 

Only according to action, and through testing, can the Teacher ascertain the degree of fieriness. (Fiery World I, 364)

 

Such a test means: The teacher gives you the opportunity to rise to a higher level.

 

Tests lie as thresholds to the gates of Beauty. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 337 [341])

 

Each testing is a threshold to progress. (Brotherhood 483)

 

Therefore, will not the enthusiastic disciple ask for hard exams to prove his suitability for a higher position?

 

He who appeals to the Brothers of Light for the opportunity, at the same moment of his appeal, demands the trial by fire, i. e., he demands an opportunity to prove his fitness for life on higher levels. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 87 “The Mystery Language”)

 

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me. (Psalms 26, 2)

 

Sometimes, a situation on the edge of the abyss seems hopeless. Even then, you have to be able to choose the relatively best from all the bad options.

 

To select the best from the worst is also part of an Arhat’s task. Often you may find yourself surrounded by the worst on every side, but even then you must find the self-control to select the least harmful. In the midst of the ocean it is not easy to select a better wave, but all the same it is possible. (Heart 583) 

 

 

11. Difficulties are Guideposts

 

Apparently insurmountable obstacles are not the end, but only the beginning of a path.

 

How can one intensify energy if not by an extreme situation? Such situations should be regarded not as end points but as beginnings. For some people everything is definitely an end, but for Our disciples everything is a beginning. (Heart 30)

 

Obstacles are guideposts! They show us the direction in which we are to go on.

 

The challenge facing you now is the next step on the ladder of your ascent to God! When you have climbed it, you will stand stronger and one step higher than before.

 

Darkness is as a carpet to the Fiery World. (Fiery World II, 364)

 

When joy for the future lives in the heart, then each impediment is merely a step for ascent. (Fiery World III, 239)

 

Difficulties are the milestones on the spiritual path: They are not piling up before you accidentally. They have the profound meaning of showing you the new, greater tasks lying ahead of you which will take you even higher.

 

The overcoming of obstacles leads to that what is predestined. (Infinity II, 528 [128])

 

Many obstacles will be encountered in the search for perfection, and the surmounting of these obstacles will be a true perfectment. Overcome, and ascend! (Supermundane 799)

 

"It is said so beautifully: Love adversities as your best friends, who only do you good!"

 

Yes! When you are walking the spiritual path, every life problem is actually a teacher that takes you one step further: It forces you to apply the principles of life, to affirm and enforce your ideals, and thereby strengthens your spirit.

 

Every day is a teacher who teaches you what no other day can teach. (Johann Kaspar Lavater)

 

The true devotees learn to love all the obstacles and sufferings which they encounter on their path. Verily, these obstacles become our teachers; they initiate us into the further mysteries of the opening of the flower of spirit. Those who declare that it is possible to attain spiritual growth without suffering speak a great untruth. But these sufferings are transformed into joy, into a new spiritual ascent, provided there exists the fire of true love. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 07.03.1935)

 

It is wise not to complain, but to be grateful to the people and situations standing in your way, for they allow you to learn!

 

Only the foolish fall into despair. Every hour brings its lesson, and therefore one must be grateful for each experience. (Fiery World I, 394) 

 

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers. (Kahlil Gibran)

 

Even mistakes which you will necessarily make, and setbacks that will inevitably come, you may turn into steps of ascent by recognizing them and learning from them how to do better next time. Then you will emerge even stronger from the mishap.

 

Every mistake must be a bridge to new knowledge, not an obstacle. Every erroneous stumbling can be used to build the future. There are many mistakes in life; they can all be turned into fiery good if they have not undermined one’s courage. (Supermundane 829)

 

Let each mistake be a stepping stone to a new victory. (Supermundane 878)

 

You will experience: The ideals of the higher world develop a necessity of their own. He who sets out for realizing them in his daily life will soon encounter difficulties. These resistances are an expression of the needs, imperfections and sufferings of the time.

 

They are not personal but general in nature. They affect all spiritual fighters of an epoch alike. Those who overcome them defeat the misery of all. This applies to both inward and outward difficulties.

 

Obstacles, like the flow of the waters, help one to sense the main salutary current. (Supermundane 755)

 

 

12. Joy at Obstacles

Nicholas Roerich „Krishna“

 

Your entering the spiritual path leads you to new standards: The old mortal man fears obstacles and tries to avoid them by all means. The New immortal Man, on the other hand, welcomes them joyfully as stages of further ascent.

 

A Yogi values the many earthly oppressions which fall to his path. Each suffering is called the hastened way. Sharpening of feelings cannot take place without overcoming obstacles. (Brotherhood 397)

 

One must welcome the most difficult tasks as a purifying cloak. (Heart 548)

 

At the beginning of this Broadcasting we had complained: An abundance of difficulties seems to be blocking our path to self-perfection. At the end of the Broadcasting, we are wiser and say joyfully: Hardship, poverty, weakness, illness, distractions and temptations open up so many new paths to self-improvement. (van Gogh "Crows in the Wheatfield")

 

"How may I find that joy?"

 

For the last time we say: You have to change your thinking, your consciousness, your mental attitude. Then you realize: Dangers and tests offer you the opportunity to increase your strengths and to decrease your weaknesses!

 

I teach you to face cheerfully the experiences of life. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 114 [127])

 

The old, mortal man threatens to be broken by the difficulties which are piling up before him. The immortal thinks differently: He always bears in mind the purpose of his life, which is to grow greater.

 

The meaning of life is to grow greater. The meaning of suffering is to grow greater. The meaning of obstacles is to grow greater.

 

The path of the soul is the ascent to ever greater heights, to a Great Soul ("Mahatma"). Therefore, your Eternal Individuality really rejoices at everything that pushes it along on this path! (Selvarajan Yesudian "You are the sun of your life")

 

Every traveller who is enlightened by thought about the eternal path can proceed in joy. (Fiery World II, 425)

 

To rejoice at obstacles is the surest way to deprive chaos of any power over you.

 

Why do not the tribulations that we endure for Christ taste well for us? Then Satan would be completely defeated, he had already played his last trump. The enemy cannot do anything against him who finds his pleasure in Christ's Cross. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon for the Feast of St. Andrew)

 

When the force of your spirit has become so great that you can enjoy the difficulties, hardships, and sufferings with which the others are struggling, you have reached the highest level of transfiguration of life through mental work, expansion of consciousness, and the power of the right spiritual attitude.

 

A slave can toil in depression, but the fiery spirit transforms everything by very luminous joy. (Fiery World III, 597)

 

One who thinks about the meaning of life, about soaring over earthly obstacles, knows how to feel joy. (Supermundane 578)

 

Listen to the Master: He promises:

 

We send the light to those who smile at darkness. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 6)

 

He asks us:

 

Have you finally learned to rejoice at obstacles? Can We be assured that what seems like an obstacle will multiply your resourcefulness tenfold? Can We accept you as conquering warriors? (Agni Yoga 72)

 

He gives us a mantram to accompany us on our path which we should engrave deeply into our mind and ponder in our heart each and every day:

 

Blessed be the obstacles, through them we grow! (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 349 [353])