Explaining Willpower


Meditate well by controling thoughts, directing awareness. Will refers to the strength and ability to carry out decisions and plans. Two keys to strengthen willpower. The nature of willpower is that it increases as we exercise it. It is then there for going within in meditation.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Gurudeva makes a very important statement, he says: "Unfoldment doesn't take a lot of time. It just takes a lot of willpower." Everybody remembers. That's good. Willpower.

He goes on to say: "Someone with minimal will-power may sit at attention and concentrate and meditate every day for years and years and years and constantly be distracted and constantly be unsuccessful."

That's a common question I get when I meet with families. They say: "I sit down to meditate and my mind goes all over the place. What should I do?"

Well its hard to answer that question satisfactorily in a few minutes but it's a common problem. Just because we're putting time in meditating doesn't mean we're meditating successfully. Meditating well because we have to control our thoughts and then direct our awareness. Tasks that are very subtle to be good at.

"Another person can be extremely successful in a short period of time because he has willpower. The previous way he lived his life gave a great strength to his will and he goes soaring within on that power. Will is the fuel which carries awareness through all areas of the mind. It is that spiritual quality which makes all inner goals a reality. The will has to be cultivated just like you would cultivate a garden. The energies have to all be flowing, in a sense, through one channel, so that everything you do is satisfying, complete and beautiful."

Since willpower is so important it's important that we understand exactly what it means. So, looking at the word we start with will. What is the meaning of will in the term willpower. It's not what you're leaving your children, right? It's not that kind of will. Will refers to one's decisions, wishes or plans.

So, what you want to do, what you've decided to do, what you'd like to have happen, that's what we mean by will. You have a plan to accomplish something. It'll take a few weeks. That's your will on the matter. So, willpower then is the strength to carry out one's decisions; the strength of will to carry out what we decided to do. Our wishes, plans, decisions. So, if we have a strong ability to carry out what we want to do then we have a strong willpower.

The example I use is the student who wants to get up early in the morning and study to be more successful and of course, always manages to sleep in. Never quiet manages to get up and fulfill his wish which is to study. Verses another student who; it's easy. Going to get up tomorrow and study and the person gets up and studies. Why? Cause that person has stronger willpower than the other person.

As Gurudeva said in our introductory statement: "The will has to be cultivated, just like you would cultivate a garden."

So, cultivated can also be rendered as strengthened. We want to increase our willpower. That's what cultivate means in that sense. So, therefore, it's very important to understand how to increase our willpower.

So Gurudeva gives two keys. Remember? Gives two keys to strengthening our willpower. He says: "Finish everything you start." Sounds simple but we better be careful what we start, right? Finish everything that you start. That's the first key.

Then he gives us the second key. He says: "Do it well even a little better than you have to. Put a little extra into the task." That also uses more willpower. So, by finishing the task and doing it a little better than you have to or a lot better if you have extra time; you're strengthening your willpower.

So, willpower has a very interesting quality. It's explained in this statement: "Therefore, the more you use your personal individual willpower in your religious service, in your business life, your personal life, your home life, your temple life, in fulfilling all the yamas and niyamas, the more willpower you have. It is an accumulative, every-growing bank account."

That's a very interesting idea. The more willpower you use, the more you have. So, some things aren't that way. We've been doing a lot of traveling recently and when you rent a car you fill it up with gas and you drive 50 miles. And then, you get in a car the next day and you have less gas then you did the previous day, right? When energy is used in that form, gasoline, it goes down. So, the more gasoline, the more you drive the less gasoline you have. It's the opposite of willpower.

Willpower is more like building muscles through exercise. You exercise your muscles; you do muscle building exercises. You rest a few days; you do it again, you rest a few days. You're utilizing your muscles and what happens. They get stronger, right? When you utilize them in that way they actually, you're building muscle through using muscle. You're not using it up. You're doing it in a systematic way, therefore, it's increasing.

So, willpower is the same. We do a task; we finish it. We do it a little better than we need to. When our next task comes around, what happens? We have more willpower to do it; just a little bit more. You know, not a huge amount more but we have a little bit more. Because we learned that. Then, we finish that task, we do it a little better than we have to. Or, if we have extra time, a lot better. We have more willpower for the next task. Very interesting insights into the nature of willpower that it increases by using it.

Time for one more idea: "Once you have decided that Self Realization is the ultimate goal for you, go on living your normal life. Everything that you do in life can collectively be channeled toward the ultimate goal, for what you need is a dynamic will. You need a strong will."

Well, Gurudeva's point is: We're trying for spiritual growth; we're trying to go deeply within ourselves. We don't have to divorce ourselves from external activities. Not at all; it's unnatural. But that's one idea. To make spiritual progress I need to be alone in my room all and meditate. Then I can make true spiritual progress.

But, as we've mentioned before most people won't make true spiritual progress if they do that 365 days a year. It's not the environment that's natural to them at this point in their spiritual growth. They need interaction with other people. They need external tasks to do.

Well, that's the beauty of Gurudeva's approach is: We become better at meditating, better at going within through doing our outer tasks better. Therefore, we can make spiritual progress all throughout the day simply by finishing everything we start and doing it a little better than we need to. If we approach every task that way, which is what Gurudeva's suggesting, slowly, over time, our willpower increases. And, that same willpower is there for going within ourselves in meditation.

Aum Namah Sivaya