Steadfastness, Perservance, Dhriti - Yamas

Trilogo Commentary, LWS Lesson 21


The Yamas focus on harnessing the tendencies of the instinctive mind. Foster steadfastness, perseverance forbearance; be firm, achieve your goals. "Siva's devotees approach each enterprise with deliberate thoughtfulness and act only after careful consideration." Expect to encounter obstacles in achieving plans; choose to persevere.

Master Course Trilogy, Living with Siva, Lesson 21.

Thiruvalluvar: Tirumantirum, Chapter 62, Verse 612

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. This is from tomorrow's "Living with Siva" lesson, looked ahead a bit:

Dhriti: Steadfastness.

Foster steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness. Achieve your goals with a prayer, purpose, plan, persistence and push. Be firm in your decisions. Avoid sloth and procrastination. Develop willpower, courage and industriousness. Overcome obstacles. Never carp or complain. Do not let opposition or fear of failure result in changing strategies.

This is my talk on the subject; it's not the actual Master Course lesson.

Let's look at some examples of not following this yama.

We suffer from chronic back pain. What do we do? We go to a physical therapist and he gives us some exercises to do. This is what not to do. We do them for one month then stop. A few months later we go to an Ayurvedic doctor and he suggests some herbs. We manage to take these for two months before stopping. Six months later we go to another physician and he suggests a still different remedy. You get the idea, of course, that the man is not steadfastness. He just sticks to something for a while and then drops it and so he's not making progress on solving the chronic problem of back pain.

Have a parallel example in Hinduism. Gurudeva mentioned this now and then.

Devotee visits a swami. He suggests we chant a mantra and the devotee does that for a few months and then stops. Then goes to another swami who suggests meditation, manages to do that for a few months then stops again. So of course, no tangible progress is made in his spiritual life because the person is not being steadfast.

So all the Yamas focus on harnessing a tendency of the instinctive mind. In the case of steadfastness the instinctive quality we are harnessing is the tendency not to stick to what we start. We're constantly creating a new plan, working at it for a short while and then abandoning it and creating a new plan again. So, that doesn't make progress.

This is of course is a human quality that existed in Thiruvalluvar's time as well. So he has some verses on it. Chapter is entitled "Perseverance" which basically has the same meaning as steadfastness.

Chapter 62 stresses the importance, Verse 612:

"Beware of leaving any work undone, remembering that the world abandons those who abandon their work unfinished. "

The chapter states that, "Perseverance creates prosperity, the ability to overcome misfortune and to be generous and charitable."

It also states that the lack of perseverance brings shame abandonment and misfortune. So we can see that the value of perseverance and how we have to work at it.

What are some of the reasons for non-perseverance? So we have a couple of examples of that.

Common reason for not persevering with an undertaking is that the original decision was an emotional whim rather than a well thought through plan.

So the example here is: We have lunch with a colleague at work who shares with us how he purchased a second home and is renting it out and earning excellent income, enough to take his family on pilgrimage to India last month. You think this is a great idea and immediately purchase a second home and rent it out. After a year you realize that the price you paid was too high and you're earning less than the cost of the home. And the enterprise is actually lowering your savings for the pilgrimage rather than increasing it. Therefore you have to sell the house and incur a loss.

So, what went wrong? The initial decision was flawed, it was based on a passing emotion rather than a well conceived plan. This problem can be avoided by taking time to make decisions, carefully gather all the facts, talk in person to others who are successful at the enterprise, share all this information with family and friends, pray to Lord Ganesha for guidance, put all this information in a detailed plan and, if you have a guru, ask for your preceptor's blessings on the plan.

This relates to the sutra from Gurudeva which we mentioned at the beginning:

"Siva's devotees approach each enterprise with deliberate thoughtfulness, and act only after careful consideration. They succeed in every undertaking by having a clear purpose, a wise plan, persistence (which is our subject) and push."

So the ideas of deliberate thoughtfulness and careful consideration are what we pointed out in this last example that this man was lacking. It's also important to understand what the goal is or the clear purpose. Our example is a young woman. Her best friend starts to study bharata natyam, so she starts it too. Works at it for about five months and then gives it up. So, why wasn't she steadfast? Because she didn't have a clear purpose. She's doing it cause her friend was doing it. So that's not enough of a motivation to stick to something. We have to really incorporate it in our own values.

Essential part of steadfastness is overcoming changeableness. So it's one of the challenges of making a decision is not deviating from it unnecessarily without good reasons. So we have to balance the idea of never changing our mind and constantly changing our mind and find a middle ground which is: We only change our mind if there's a really good reason to change our mind. Otherwise we stick with our original decision.

Two more ideas here on being steadfast:

Another reason for lacking steadfastness is that even though we have a purpose, a clear goal, the goal is not realistic, we have set it too high. Therefore, we do not achieve it in a reasonable period of time and give up. One example is: The sincere seeker sets the goal of realizing the Self in three years, first year practicing charya, second year practicing kriya, third year practicing yoga, and at the end of that, he will become a jnani through Self realization.

Of course, all of us know that's unrealistic. Therefore we have to be realistic when we set the goal. And therefore, our ability to be steadfast in achieving that goal is possible. If we're unrealistic we'll end up feeling frustrated and give it up.

The last idea is: Encountering obstacles is still another reason some choose not to persevere. There's a false concept that some Hindus have that if they set a goal and if they encounter an obstacle Lord Ganesha's telling them to give it up. Lord Ganesha blocked. So of course, that's not a correct way of looking at what Lord Ganesha does. And we found out in building Iraivan Temple now, what 1990, some thirty years we've been building Iraivan Temple; the bigger a project the more obstacles you'll encounter. A small project you might get through it without a single obstacle. You get to get a thirty plus year project such as Iraivan Temple where we're carving in one country, one team is carving, then another team is putting it together, ten, twenty years later in another country, you're going to have some obstacles. Everything won't work smoothly.

Therefore, it's better to think in encompassing a project that the more complex a project is the more obstacles you will encounter and to expect them in the first place. If you run into obstacle after obstacle after obstacle it is worth considering if you're doing something wrong. But also, balance that out with the idea the more complex a project is the more obstacles you will encounter in manifesting it.

So thank you very much.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Those who know wisdom's ways have overcome the "I'm getting old" syndrome, a mantra no one should ever repeat, even once.
—Gurudeva