L I B E R A T I O N – V I C T O R Y O V E R E A R T H B O U N D H A B I T S
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, January 20, 2009
1. A yogi has no habits, because habits are nothing more than the decay of life. However, it is natural for a yogi to have his own way of action. It is not difficult for a yogi to cut the bonds of habit, because his state of tense alertness constantly reveals to him new approaches to problems. Inertia is the skeleton on which ignorance grows. How many kingdoms have collapsed because of inertia!
Agni Yoga, 198
2. Although much is spoken about obstacles, little use is made of them. Understanding how to make use of obstacles infuses joy into one's work. But as soon as an obstacle appears, people usually begin to think of their own feelings, forgetting the advantage that has been offered to them. People prefer that everything be done in a usual way, by conventional means. But We prefer unexpected actions and equally unexpected results. People are happy when the occurrences in their lives are the most ordinary, but We wish them greater success than this. Teach them to weigh the real harm and the usefulness of what occurs. It is difficult to send currents of unusual success to people when they prefer to avoid unusual ways. We all know people who live in self-satisfied comfort. If they could only know what they lose because of their ease! People want to preserve all their petty habits, forgetting that the habits of the spirit follow from the habits of the body. The spirit weakens, and begins to fear courageous action. Thus, people become commonplace, with the same conventional joys and sorrows....
Often we see the great obstacles, while overlooking the multitude of small ones that lie within sight. After all, a small, unnoticed scorpion strikes just as poisonously as a large one. An eagle eye is needed, not so much to discern the mountain as to see the smallest grain of sand.
Agni Yoga, 262
3. Habit is second nature—a wise proverb indicating to what an extent habit dominates man. Precisely, habits render a man immobile and unreceptive. One can suppress habits, but it is not easy to eradicate them. People are continually encountered who boast of their victory over habits. But observe the daily routine of such victors, and you will find them slaves of habit. They have become so imbued with habits that they do not even feel the weight of such a yoke. It is especially tragic when a man is convinced that he is free, whereas he is really shackled in the fetters of his habits. It is most difficult to cure a sick man who denies his illness. Each one can name such incurable ones among people known to him. Yet in order to assimilate the concept of Brotherhood, mastery of existing habits is indispensable. Under habits We have in mind not the service for good, but the petty habits of selfhood.
It is Our custom to test those who are approaching the Brotherhood on liberation from habits.... It is best to begin with small habits. Man is often concerned with defending them more than anything else. They are considered to be natural qualities, like birthmarks. Yet the newly born have no habits. Atavism, the family, and school foster the growth of habits. In any case, a routine habit is an enemy of evolution.
4. Through realization of true values routine habits will be rendered insignificant. The best liberation comes through a comparison of insignificance with greatness.... The chief enemies of cooperation will be the small habits of selfishness.
5. Urusvati knows that self-betterment must begin with the eradication of small, but harmful, habits. We particularly stress the importance of daily habits. People believe they must overcome the main obstacles at once, only to find that such drastic measures are beyond their capacity. One may also often observe instances when people imagine that they have rid themselves of their major sins, yet remain burdened with little ugly habits....Among them there are always some of which one is not even aware, and which only a keen-eyed observer can discern. Yet, the uncovering of such hidden habits often leads to complete transformation. Remember the ancient saying, "If you seize the lesser devil by the tail, he will lead you to his superior."
Supermundane II, 370
6. Urusvati knows the power of victory. A victory should be kind, for then the fires of the heart are beautifully kindled.... Everyone can overcome his bad habits and thus ignite the fires of the heart. Overcoming one’s faults was called in antiquity the opening of the Supermundane Gates. Certainly, on supermundane paths, one’s earthly habits can be particularly harmful. Even seemingly harmless habits can enslave one.
A free man is not chained by habits. He will know how to adapt himself to any conditions and will not regret the past, for he has overcome all obstacles and is free. Man himself accumulates petty habits and is not aware that he has become enslaved, precisely by the most petty habits and prejudices. Can one hasten into the Supermundane World with such fetters? Can one freely and in friendship greet new neighbors, when one is engulfed by yesterday’s refuse? It must be conceded that the litter of one’s life is composed of petty habits. A conqueror does not cling to the past, but freely strives towards new creative labor.
The Thinker said, “Come, victory, and liberate me from my rusty chains.”
Supermundane IV, 825
7. ...It is best to replace the idea of outliving one’s faults with a command to liberate oneself. Verily, a firm will can, like a sword, cut away bad habits.
It is especially easy to get rid of these vermin for one who has cognized the Supermundane World. Only with the realization of continuous life can one firmly drive away all harmful thoughts. For the sake of one’s unavoidable future, one must intensify one’s will for immediate self-liberation.
While crossing into the Supermundane World, one will value the liberation from the dark burden that impedes one’s flight. Truly, why torment oneself with small leaps when one can fly beautifully? Why remain behind when one can advance?
The Thinker advised, “Love the beautiful feeling of self-liberation!”
Supermundane IV, 890
8. Urusvati knows the true meaning of self-enslavement....
Man has bound himself with petty habits. He has ensnared himself in a cobweb of prejudices. How can such a chained captive fight for the freedom of mankind?...
It is impossible to affirm freedom, when slavery rules.
The Thinker warned, “Before thinking of the freedom of others, liberate yourself.”
Supermundane IV, 902
9. Every day try to learn something, and be grateful to every co-worker who can help you develop the right attitude toward petty personal affronts and thereby liberate yourself from them. Only when we try to understand the main point can we learn to ignore the attacks of an uncultured heart. N.K. always recollects with gratitude his most hostile associates because those were the ones who helped him develop his vigilant eye, his readiness of wit, and the essential firmness and discipline of spirit. Thus, you too must learn to regard the conduct of captious people as based on whims that cannot insult you but can only make you feel sorry for those who return to the nonsensical habits of childhood.
Letters of Helena Roerich I, 7 October, 1931
10. I shall be very happy if you are able to apply the Teaching in everyday life. Indeed, I advise you to think more about spiritual perfecting than about cosmogony. Without the purification of the heart and the broadening of consciousness by the methods of Living Ethics, no true knowledge can be obtained. Thus, the elimination of one of your undesirable habits will bring you more benefit than learning by heart all the existing systems of cosmogony. Indeed, true understanding comes to us through closeness to the Hierarch and the unification of our consciousness with the consciousness of the Hierarch. But such unification may take place only when our inner essence is purified to such an extent that it is able to perceive and respond to the vibrations sent by the Great Teacher. I shall never tire of repeating about applying the Teaching in daily life, and once more I suggest that you attend to the work of self-perfection. As it is said in Agni Yoga, determine your three worst vices and try to rid yourself of them. A tremendous victory will be yours.
Letters of Helena Roerich I, 12 April, 1935
11. Achievement is impeded primarily not so much by doubt as by inchoate thoughts, generated by old habits. I affirm that it is not difficult to liberate oneself from habits if we can sufficiently project the consciousness into the future. Often people measure the future according to the present and thus clip the new wings.
12. ...The people who wish to approach the Teaching should thoroughly analyze to what extent their habits have changed after their acceptance of the Teaching. What happened to their prejudices? Have they changed their lives, or just their words? Let them confess their thoughts to themselves or to the chosen Guru. There are too many parrots; what is the use of multiplying them? Often, parrots place their owners in awkward positions; they utter blasphemy instead of praise, and vice versa.
It is also useful to note our worst habits and immediately start to eradicate them. Every day the disciples should enter into their diaries what has been done in this respect. Let them first struggle with one habit, as it is not so simple to alter oneself. It is very useful to watch the quality of thought and not allow any malicious, petty, and, in general, mean-spirited thoughts. The purifying of consciousness is the first step. After that, we advise the discipline of thought: to learn how to think in one direction, without being distracted even for a moment. It is wonderful if one can concentrate on the Image of the Teacher.
Letters of Helena Roerich I, 3 June, 1931
13. If we are able to drive away the whispering shadows, irritation, touchiness, and a careless attitude toward work, we shall move ahead with gigantic steps. Really, is it not distressing to remain static, in the same place? The worst obstacle is touchiness, which holds us back, which destroys all sense of striving. Wonderful possibilities flee from us when we are busy analyzing outrages against us which, in many cases, are imaginary and self-suggested. Let us discard these destructive habits and let us give all our hearts to the fulfillment of the entrusted work. Let us put all our interest, our whole lives into our work, and a miracle will occur. This very self-denial will bring us most unexpected, most lofty joys.
Letters of Helena Roerich I, 21 August, 1931