“Nothing comes easily in golf or in life.”
Justin Rose’s comment is especially true when one is called to serve the whole of humanity, the common good. It is not easy to change or transform a system that is normalized and put firmly in place for a long time, even though it may be destructive to the human race. For example, millions of people protested against the War in Iraq before the bombs were dropped. However, because the protests, though in the millions in many places, were last minute, it was impossible to change the organized, military momentum of the United States to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
It’s the same way with our personal spiritual journey. Many of us are fighting years of doing harmful daily practices that for us to reverse the direction of those patterns takes a lot of energy, effort, and commitment.
The Buddha agrees with Justin Rose. After meditating for 49 days under the Bodhi tree in Sarnath, India, he was blessed with a vision of the Four Nobel Truths. These yogic truths have clearly helped millions of people through meditation release themselves from pain for at least short periods of time. Siddhartha Gautoma Sakyamuni’s spiritual journey took a great deal of effort.
Jesus of Nazareth, as the Christian scriptures indicate, also put a considerable amount of effort into fulfilling his journey to Resurrection. Jesus’ spiritual journey took a great deal of painful effort—effort that ended in a torturous death on a cross.
In reality too, our own spiritual journeys take a great deal of effort.
When we humans are called to be like Christ or like the Buddha, we are being asked to do and be much. That journey takes a great deal of effort.
But Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God is within us. The pearly gates are within our internal reach. The Buddha also reminds us that there is a very sure way to stop the suffering in our lives—we just need right thoughts, right resolve, right speech, right action and right livelihood. When we put all our effort into thinking, speaking, acting, living in a way that honors truth, we will experience the joy of life, the happiness of achieving our spiritual goals. We will reach nirvana/heaven!
So, where did Jesus and Siddhartha get the courage and strength to continue the journey. They had experienced the Source of Life within themselves. They knew that they were beloved by Abba, as Jesus called God, or by the driving search for Truth as Siddhartha experienced. They knew their connection with the divine through their own practices of prayer and meditation. Siddhartha always called upon his “atman,” his individual consciousness connected to the Universal consciousness. Jesus also know that “his Father” would answer all his prayers and would always do what was best for him.
It seems as though that’s the effort we must make—every day sit in the conscious presence of the Source of our Life—whatever we call it—“Father” or “Compassionate Universe” or “God” or “Divine Mother.”
This effort practice everyday is truly a worthy effort!