The effect of self-worth on your spiritual development can become very subtle and easy to miss. It is very important to pay attention to it in your daily reﬂection, especially if you are wondering why you aren’t developing faster, or why you’re still so far behind.
It is important to reﬂect about daily events and see how you would do something differently from how you did it last week. By putting daily events in your diary and reﬂecting on them, you ensure that you will continue to work. That continuation will ensure your growth. The daily entry in your diary is actually the story of your spiritual development. It reﬂects the effort that you put in and, accordingly, what you will get in return. If your effort is very lukewarm then nothing much will happen.
If you notice in your reﬂection that you have repeated some mistake, you may think, “Oh, I know all about this,” and because you know, you may think you don’t need to pay more attention to it. But, you see, when we know things and then act contrary to what we know, that is sin. Sin is not the mistakes we make. Sin is knowing what we have to do and not doing it.
When there is low self-worth, the mind and the emotions become greedy. That greediness often has its root in inferiority complexes. The ﬁrst step in dealing with lack of self-worth and inferiority complexes is to become aware of them. Then you have to work at them, and in the ﬁrst couple of years of that working there has to be an im¬provement. Otherwise, your feeling of unworthiness and your inferiority complex just become an excuse for the greediness of the emotions and you say things like “My lack of self-worth makes me do this,” or “I did this because of my inferiority complex. I can’t help it.”
When you acknowledge a problem, deal with it straight and don’t use it later on to make clever excuses about why you never make any progress. The mind can be¬come very clever in the practice of spiritual things, so clever that you can still be using these old tales years later as an excuse for not doing what you know very well you have to do.
I sometimes meet people I knew ten or ﬁfteen years ago, and it’s very sad to see how they are still using these clever maneuvers of the mind. They are still saying, “Well, yeah, it’s just because I don’t have a sense of self-worth.”
I say to them, “But you knew that ten years ago, so why haven’t you done anything about it?” Are you doing something to turn that feeling of worthlessness into something worthwhile? That is your responsibility. Nobody can do that for you. We all have these problems.
Being unworthy can be also an escape, because suddenly it dawns on you there is a great responsibility in being worthy. If you are really honest, then you have to admit that you want to shove off that responsibility more than you want to be accepted.
Sometimes people who have low self-worth will go looking for recognition by emphasizing how difﬁcult their work is, how many problems they have, how much stands in their way. If you are going for the Olympics, you try each time to surpass your own record, but if you don’t make it you can’t say, “Well, this time the hurdle was higher,” or “I have shrunk, so I couldn’t do it.” You won’t qualify for the Olympics that way.
When you look for recognition outside, you don’t help your sense of self-worth. Your self-worth comes from knowing, “I did it. It was very difﬁcult, but because I did it, I now know that I can take the next hurdle.” If you look for recognition from other people because of your inferiority complex, you may struggle for acceptance with everybody you meet. But even if the whole world accepts you and yet you still cannot stand up, ﬁguratively speaking, before the throne of the Divine, what have you got?
Emperors and presidents of powerful countries have the fear as well as the admiration of the world, but what does it give them in return? Look at what they have. They are not even safe in their own homes. They need a whole battery of bodyguards around.
It is by doing the work that you get the experience and the experience is your victory. The ex¬perience is your reward. But if you don’t do anything about your problems, there will be no experience, no reward, no vic¬tory, nothing. You will have lost a whole life. That is what you’re doing to yourself, and that’s the price you pay. Be clear about that.
When you struggle for recognition and acceptance, you have to ask also, “Recognition and acceptance by whom?” By somebody who is struggling just as much as yourself? Or perhaps by somebody who is not even trying?
The important thing is to get the opinion of somebody who knows. Most of the time you struggle for acceptance by people who are not any further ahead in their spiritual devel¬opment than you are, and often by people who are much further behind. Why do you want their acceptance? That is a very important question which you must ask yourself again and again.
Think of great musicians who died in poverty. Mozart was one. He didn’t have the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. So it is with many great artists. They get recognition in the end, however, because their work becomes eternal. But there are lots of people who were famous in their lifetimes that we have never even heard of, because they reaped all their rewards while they were alive.
Jesus says in the New Testament that if you want your reward on Earth, you will get it, but that will be it. However, if you can forego your reward on Earth, you will reap it in heaven.* So if you have to make that choice, make the right choice. Who else can reward you but the Divine? What is a reward worth from someone who’s just as mortal and human and has all the same frailties as yourself?
* Matthew 6:1, 5.
Swami Sivananda Radha was among the first Westerners and first women to bring yoga to the West. In 1955 after having a powerful visionary experience of her guru, she left everything and traveled to India to meet Swami Sivananda.
In February 1956, she was initiated into sanyas, a commitment to a life of selfless service and renunciation, and was asked to return to Canada to start an ashram and many centres of Light.
Swami Radha was 44 when she went to India, and spent the remaining forty years of her life passionately committed to the teachings. During this time she founded Yasodhara Ashram (www.yasodhara.org) and the Radha Yoga Centres (www.radha.org), as well as timeless (www.timeless.org), which has published her ten books on yoga. The Ashram and the Radha Yoga Centres continue to present her work in the spirit in which it was given, maintaining the quality and integrity that were the essence of Swami Radha’s life. She passed away in 1995.