Every individual faces difficulties during his lifetime. They may be difficulties imposed due to external circumstances attendant on one’s birth, cultural or societal position, opportunities, or economic prospects. They may be difficulties that arise due to climate or natural disasters. They may also be difficulties that arise as a result of limitations of the individual or as more general manifestations of human nature as presently constituted. There are also difficulties that arise as humanity confronts the pressure and need to change, adapt and grow, leaving past habits behind and bringing in new ways of seeing, acting and relating.

The individual does not generally have much, if any, control of the external circumstances. He can, however, gain a measure of control over his own decisions, actions and reactions, and thereby participate actively in the unfolding of the future before him. This is not to say that all of these decisions or actions are painless or successful in the measure sought by the individual, of course.

For the spiritual seeker, the obstacles and difficulties are, in some cases, greatly enhanced by the increased visibility the seeker has to the inner workings of the being, and the additional conditions that those seekers have to fulfill to not only face external situations, but deal with internal reactions, energetic forces and needs of the spiritual growth of the being.

The positive side of all of this is that those who choose the spiritual life have the capacity to succeed if they remain steadfast. With the constant play of the three Gunas, the seeker should exercise care to not give way to the rise of Tamas with depression or despair that causes him to abandon the path; or, with the rise of Rajas, fall under the spell of self-seeking, vanity, greed, fame or lust, or under the spell of Sattwa, take the position of being able to determine what others should do out of spiritual pride, and then try to justify these things without recognising the spiritual peril involved.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “All who enter the spiritual path have to face the difficulties and ordeals of the path, those which rise from their own nature and those which come in from outside. The difficulties in the nature always rise again and again till you overcome them; they must be faced with both strength and patience….”

“All who cleave to the path steadfastly can be sure of their spiritual destiny. If anyone fails to reach it, it can only be for one of the two reasons, either because they leave the path or because for some lure of ambition, vanity, desire, etc. they go astray….”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VI Growth of Consciousness, Difficulties and Pitfalls, pg. 108

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.