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Success Demands Commitment

by Nayaswami Jaya

Many years ago, I was trekking with friends when we found our way blocked by a ravine, perhaps thirty feet wide and equally deep.  The banks were steep and it seemed as if we would have to retrace our path, but luckily, not far downhill, we found a fallen fir tree across the ravine forming a somewhat precarious bridge.  The trunk was smooth but solid, about 30 inches in diameter, so one after the other, we made our way across. 

When it came to my turn, I stepped forward carefully; a fall could easily have broken bones or worse.   All was going well until, halfway across, I made a big mistake.  I hesitated, stopped and looked down!  Suddenly, the mighty log on which I perched seemed no wider than a toothpick.  My knees wobbled and, as the saying goes, “turned to water.”  I collapsed onto the log and gripped it for dear life, unable to go forward or back. My friends laughed uproariously as I eventually regained my courage and carefully shimmied the rest of the way across on my backside. 

What had gone wrong? Instead of courageously advancing toward my goal, I had stopped midway to consider my position and thereby opened myself to doubts.   It was a dangerous crossing but the time for deliberation had been when I hopped onto the log, not once I was half way across. 

So it is with countless endeavors and so it is with the spiritual life.  We start out boldly with high ideals and are tempted to hesitate. We lose faith and open ourselves to doubts, failure or half-hearted efforts.   “What if I don’t succeed?  Will God really watch over me?  Must I really rid myself of these habits?”   If dwelled upon, we become like Arjuna between the two armies at Kurukshetra, hesitant to take up the battle before us. 

Success in all great ventures demands commitment. I think it was said well by W.H. Murray, leader of a Scottish Himalayan expedition.

Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.              

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

So true.  So long as the seeker nourishes that “chance to draw back,” he cannot put full force into his quest for God.   Taking up the holy challenge requires an inner commitment to see the battle through to the end and an understanding that half-hearted effort will bring only failure. 

For the spiritual warrior, the divine search must be a matter of spiritual life and death.  The quest for God, seen in a lesser light, rarely brings success, but once we commit to a noble purpose, we find the unseen hand of divinity sustaining us.  Fortune favors the bold. The universe itself aids he who goes toward God in full faith and courage.