You must find your right path not by pushing others out of your way, but instead by making up your mind about your destination and choosing the right route and turns to take without clashing with others, says SWAMI CHIDANAND SARASWATI
During my early years at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, an old, revered saint came to Rishikesh to give his satsang at our ashram. However, rather than staying in the comforts of the ashram, he used to stay in a small hut on the banks of the sacred Ganga, up past the marketplace.
I was given the special seva of going to pick him up each morning and bring him to the ashram. As we walked through the busy marketplace, I would try to push everyone and everything out of his way so that this revered saint could walk comfortably and unimpeded to the ashram. I asked everyone along the way, “Side please. Please give us the way to walk.” I would gently push all the wandering cows and donkeys out of his path. I moved standing bicycles and fruit carts out of the way so he could pass.
Finally, as we reached the gate of the ashram, I felt very glad that I had been able to bring him so safely and smoothly to the ashram, and that I had been able to clear such a nice path for him to walk.
This saint, however, looked at me lovingly and said, “My child, how many people can you push out of the way? For how long can you move other people and things out of your path? This is not the way. Do not try to move others; rather find your way between the others and around them. Make your own path, but do not worry about moving others. Find your own way in the midst of the chaos.”
We frequently get frustrated and broken by the feeling that others are blocking our way and thwarting us on our path. We blame their presence and their actions for our own failure. We explain to ourselves that we would have been able to succeed if only they had let us, if only they had moved out of the way for us. We try to push people and obstacles aside to clear a way for ourselves in life.
But obstacles never stop coming. People who are jealous never stop trying to block our path. For how long can we try to move them aside? How many obstacles, how many enemies can we try to push away? The answer is simple — we must find our own way around them and between them. If they are blocking the path on the right, we walk on the left. If they are blocking the path on the left, we walk on the right.
For those who are pure in mind, thought, and deed, there will always be a path in which to walk. The path may be narrow at times and it may seem that obstacles and enemies line both sides. But we must humbly and sincerely make our own way on the path of life. We must just keep walking the path of our dharma, the path of righteousness, the path of honesty, purity, and piety, without worrying about those who try to block our way.
So much of our precious time, energy, and focus are wasted in the futile task of trying to remove obstacles and other people from our path. It is not necessary. Find your own path around the obstacles. Find your own path around the enemies. Do not try to push them aside, push them down, or fight them for the right of way. Rather carefully examine the situation and see where the path is clear. Then, choose that path and continue on your way.
The more attention we give to those who are trying to sabotage us and thwart our progress, the less time and energy we have to walk the right path. In that way, then, the enemies win, for they have stolen our peace of mind, our tranquility, our joy, and also our time. Instead of trying to drive them out of the way, we must remain humble, pure, and focused on the goal. If we can see our destination clearly, we will always be able to find a path in which to walk.
Swami Chidanand Saraswati is the President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, one of the largest interfaith spiritual institutions in India. He is co-founder/co-chairman of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), the world’s first initiative to bring together the leaders of all the world’s faiths to enable a water-secure future.