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    Birth and Death


By Stephen Marshall

How often one resolves to make an effort of one kind or another in the cause of one’s spiritual development, and how often one soon forgets!

The Holy Man’s spoken or written word of instruction or advice strikes a significant chord, and we say I will remember and practise accordingly.” A drive home or the television programme soon whitewashes the mind, and the resolve or good impulse is lost, preference being given to the easier, lazy and fruitless alternative.

What can one do to rectify this all-too-common occurrence? How can we “develop” in a practical fashion?

The first thing is not to criticise oneself or worry about these faults — after all, busy lives mean busy minds, and it is in the nature of things that we forget. However, when one comes to attention or “remembers”, albeit for a second or two, then one should act by making an immediate positive effort to implement the instruction or advice or whatever practice or discipline comes to the mind. In that moment of Grace, one has a choice, i.e. either to “work” or to “ignore”, and if the latter option is taken, one falls back to sleep and that particular opportunity is lost forever.

Even a few seconds applying the right effort is an important step on the Way. One must be grateful for small mercies. For example it may be:

  1. Reading a page or two of a good book
  2. A Yoga exercise or meditation
  3. Listening to some music, or
  4. Washing the dishes!

If it is the latter (or any other job that needs doing for that matter) do it, but with your full attention. That is, be present, washing the dishes, not wishing you were somewhere else there’s plenty of time for useless daydreams.

You will know what you should do — just listen to the voice within and make the effort. See what happens if you do, for as we all know, “from little acorns great oaks grow”.


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