BY SWAMI CHETANANANDA
The simplest, most brilliant method for dealing with self-doubt is a tool that Rudi created, that we call “The Wish to Grow.” Now, in all the Indian spiritual traditions, whether it’s Buddhism, or Shaivism, or Vaishnavism, devotion is essential. Devotion is essential because devotion continually brings us back to our heart. Devotion is the tool by which we can break down all of the accumulated tensions of our lack of self-esteem, all of the accumulated weight of our own self-doubt, and lift ourselves and our spirits to a place where our energy is activated and flowing. What we are devoted to is growing spiritually, which means growing ever closer to the truth of our own existence. We are growing ever more aware of and rooted in the awareness that we are nothing but energy, and that this total environment is curtains of light, permeated at its most refined dimension literally by only one awareness, one mind. That mind has one thought: I wish to grow. I wish to grow is the only thing on the mind of Shiva.
The brilliance of this simple tool is, on the one hand, that it is a recognition of our limitations. It’s an acknowledgement of the tensions that we carry. It is an admission of our faults and our mistakes. The Wish to Grow acknowledges the reality of our physical existence, and our mental, emotional and physical tensions, and the struggles that we have in our daily life, even as it is also recognizing the possibility of transcending all of that and arriving at an understanding of our ultimate reality. That possibility is extraordinary—a recognition of the beauty that is forever present inside us, and the Unimaginable Possibility that is present as this life.
So in those moments when we encounter any self-doubt, rather than collapse into a puddle or a ball of tensions, if we could release that tension and turn our awareness to the Wish to Grow, and begin to feel within ourselves, in our energy centers, and, take it deeper and deeper and deeper in connection to our energy centers, then we have a natural, innate experience of the devotion that resides within us as beauty, as joy. Slowly, but surely, we are transformed. This doesn’t have to take a long time, although we do need to practice for a while to develop the skill. If you sit and practice every day until you have an experience of the flow, eventually you have the awareness that you can lift yourself within the flow any time you choose. Then, moving through your day, in your ordinary day, that becomes the context of your practice. You are aligning yourself, connecting, flowing, from within yourself in all the activities and with all the people that you share your life with, and that becomes a context for your practice.
Finally, you settle, every day, within yourself, in the place where you are aware, even as you move about in your day, that the reality of you has nothing to do with this physical body or all of the movement that it’s going through. The reality of us is a profoundly refined, sweet and beautiful possibility that presents itself as health and well-being and understanding, that heals and transforms our environment. You become established in a place within yourself, in which it doesn’t matter what you do anymore. Nothing matters, because your heart radiates joy and gratitude.
So use this brilliant tool that you can sit with and, asking in your heart, connected to your breath, more and more deeply, say to yourself, again and again, “I really, deeply wish to grow.” Relaxing your body, and feeling it again and again, cultivate an intense feeling within yourself that that’s really what your life’s about. Because it is. Every living thing that exists on this planet exists for one reason, and that is to grow. All the diversity and all the environments exist for one reason and that is to support growth.
Remember that the wish to grow doesn’t deny your tensions and isn’t a suppression of anybody’s shortcomings. It’s in fact an admission of it all. At the same time, it is a recognition that there is an Unimaginable Possibility and profound abundance within us that is available to us, if we can connect to it and hold the space long enough for it to begin to express itself. To hold the space long enough, we have to be able to dispel our self-doubt. The only reason I’m still practicing is because I have experienced again and again, that when we do that, miracles happen. And I wish miracles for all of you.