The Power of Making Demands on God

singing kirtan
April 8, 2020

Nothing is more powerful than a sincere demand for self-knowledge and greater freedom. Only hitch is, most of us are not that sincere. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

I want to read you something Swami Rudrananda wrote. "You have to make up your mind whether you really wish to grow. Whether you really wish to surrender you. Or whether you wish to hang on to the 6 million extraneous things which haven't nourished anybody for 10,000 years. [laughter]

"It is not the past that is needed. It is the moment that is needed. It is the capacity within you to assimilate the energy as it comes into the universe.

The best way not to be attached is to do exactly what I do"— He's talking about himself.

"Go into your heart and open, and any hurt or attachment that you have burns out. You take a breath inside and you say, I really wish to transcend that attachment.

"You keep doing that and you will feel inside you, whatever it is, suddenly start to take fire and burn out.

"See, a wish in a human being is extraordinary. It's an extraordinary property. It is so fine that it can soak through anything. It's so very fine it can go through bone, it can go through skin, it can go through steel.

"It has a penetration like a laser beam. And you keep wishing and wishing, and you cut right through into the deepest part of you.

"So that anything you're attached to you can burn out completely, and then it will reform without the attachment. It doesn't mean that you won't have it, it means that you won't be attached to it".

So, of course, Rudi was an American Tantrik teacher, very much attached to a kind of way of approaching life as work and struggle and burning things out. And he was really into like tapas—hard, hot work.

And that's not the way everything has to be done. That's just one flavor at one stage of spiritual development, the way that things are done.

Nonetheless, what he says about having a very deep— he says wish, I would say desire— having a very deep desire, and sincerely, continually expressing that desire while you are opening your heart is—he's absolutely right. It's like a laser beam that cuts through and helps to unwind karma.

That desire, the reason why you can't just sit around and say, oh, I wish I were free of such and such an attachment or some other such attachment, is because you're not 100% sincere about it.

Part of you is thinking, oh, it would be good if I didn't have that anymore. The other part of you is thinking, ooh, but it hurts so good, I want to hold on to it.[laughter]

So I don't know about, you know, what 100% sincerity actually means in the context of human life. It's like, what does 100% self realization look like or what does 100% sincerity look like? Who really knows?

But I do know that a really concentrated, sincere request is answered. And that it is the most powerful energy that we possess.

Part of why we do sadhana every day and why I try to encourage people to do quite a bit of sadhana, like you know, couple hours of sadhana a day, is that when we first start, we're not very sincere. We have all kinds of projections and expectations. We sort of half-want stuff.

I mean, unless we come in very much already far along on the path, I mean, that happens too. But in general, your average run-of-the-mill committed practitioner is, you know, maybe 35% sincere [laughter].

And that's quite a bit, but it's not enough for magic to happen. The kind of thing that Rudi is talking about, where you really start to let go of all of those things that are binding you. The repetitive emotional patterns, the repetitive thought patterns.

One of the issues around repetitive emotional patterns and repetitive thought patterns and habits of body, energy and mind, is that the insincerity comes from the fact that on some level, for a long time, we still think that we're right to be that way.

Or that it's normal or that it's okay, or that we're getting away with it, or that we're justified, or that we have a right to be that way. Or then we might just think, oh no, I'll never not be that way. We're sort of fatalistic about it.

Those are the things that cut into our sincerity. We're still in ordinary mind thinking, oh, I had a right to be really angry at that person for six years. And then that quantity of your body, energy, and mind was taken up being angry with someone for six years, or maybe a lifetime.

And that part of you is just going around in a circle, a circuit—repeating the same emotions. Living in the past, as Rudi says, and not available to help you to wake up.

And some part of you is thinking, oh well, you know, that person did something terrible to me, so I have a right to feel this way. And plus some other part of you is unconsciously feeling, it feels good to be angry at this person.

This is really an impediment. And it means that we can't sincerely ask to have that anger taken away, to have that anger dissolved, whatever it—and that's just one example.

But as we practice every day consistently for a good period of time every day, and we, you know, have all this integrated practice, working with the community and all the things that we do, then eventually the scales start to tip in favor of wanting more freedom.

You start to really feel how enslaved you are. And that's when it gets really uncomfortable and people hate it. They hate feeling that they're enslaved.

But even when you're enslaved, you're still hanging on to the shred of conviction that what you feel and how you are and how you're behaving is right or justified or inescapable or something.

You're holding on to something and you have to get to the point where something is holding on, but you don't even have a story about it anymore [laughs].

And you're just so sick of it and you really get it, that that thing is holding you back. You really get it. You no longer feel like there's any reason for it. You feel like it just totally has you enslaved for no reason whatsoever.

And then you can really sincerely ask. And then you can go into your heart and open your heart when those things are arising. It could be anger, it could be sadness, it could be—whatever it is, whatever your patterns are.

You can really go in there and ask to be relieved of this burden of karma. And you can really do that work of opening your heart in the middle of it.

Sometimes I'll say to people- people say, oh, I'm always feeling something. What should I do? You know, when I'm in certain circumstances, the same feeling always arises or I have these same thoughts plaguing me, say, well, what should I do?

In that moment, go into your heart and open your heart. Do that work of relaxing and get feeling that spaciousness and hridaya akasha.

Oh no! But it's so hard. I can't do it then. It's too hard. Well, you'll get to a point when it doesn't matter how hard it is. You recognize that it's the only kind of work you can do.

And it's a form of prayer, right? When we ask for some- to be relieved of karma, when we ask for help, when we express a sincere desire to change and to be more loving toward people, less concerned about how other people see us, less reactive.

When we really have those sincere desires it's like a prayer. I mean, it could happen in the form of a prayer, it could happen any way that you could ask.

But the power of a sincere request or demand even, to be relieved of something is really the greatest power that we have.

Somebody wrote to me today and said, "Is there anything important about prayer, you know, or is it just like something that placates the prayer? [laughs] That just sort of makes someone feel better because they're praying? Is there really any effect from prayer?"

Well, yes! There is. And it's extremely powerful.

So the work that we do, going into the heart and trying to open our hearts, even in the midst of reactivity—this is a very mature spiritual practice, and to be able to do that is the most powerful thing that we can do.

In my experience, those moments when energy is really aligned and that request or demand is almost pure, it gets answered [claps hands] instantaneously, in a magical way.

Now those moments, even for someone like myself, are few and far between [laughs].

But they've happened and miracles have happened because—it's like everything just lines up and that request [snaps fingers] comes out like a spontaneous prayer, and it's boom! Answered.

And even if that doesn't happen like that, magically, over time it does. If we continue to cultivate open-heartedness and asking to be relieved of these enslavements we call our personality, over time they are answered.

Really, that process of insisting is extremely powerful over time. But you can't be half-assed about it.

I remember when I was younger, my teacher gave me some Kali practice to do. And I did it but I have to say, I sort of worked out a way of doing it that wasn't actually all that dangerous.

Because is Kali is like, [makes a fierce sound] right? She's the one with the sword that chops your head off. And it wasn't until, I don't know, not that long ago that I felt like I could really address myself to that Kali force and say, okay, do it.

Because, you know, we're always holding something back. We're always trying to, like, keep a little piece of what we're familiar with in our back pocket, or maybe not even our back pocket. Maybe a lot more than that.

But no doubt about it, when you get to those moments where you don't want to hold anything back and you aren't holding anything back, [snaps fingers]. That's it. It's—that's instant response.

And as I've always said, the most important thing about practice is desire. Your desire to wake up. It's guiding everything. It makes everything happen.

It's your gold, it's your jewel. It's what- it's your currency, is your desire.

A lot of people in this room have a lot of desire, but also fear. Or reasons, reasons, reasons [laughter].

So the idea is that you have to discover your own desire and you have to have the courage to live by it, come what may. And then you can really see wondrous things.

But if you're satisfied with your story about stuff and you still think that your various crappy ways that you feel about yourself and other people are justified, you're never going to experience this, until you have a sincere desire to let that stuff go.

If you're still defending your karmas, if you're still defensive in any way... Like Rudi said, not everything goes away, but you stop being attached to stuff. That's really the trick.

We have various tensions and patterns and compulsions, and some of them [snaps fingers] will go away altogether. But there's various patterns that are gonna stick around. We're not going to totally unravel all those things in one lifetime.

But we can become to a large degree unattached to them, not feel that there's anything important about them. Not stake our claim on them. Not defend our right to be that way.

And just have a more friendly and humorous relationship with those things. Friendly rather than intense. Humorous rather than earnest. Then we can be much happier and have much more result from our sadhana.

So it's really important to let yourself honestly feel your desire.

A lot of people also are afraid you won't get what you want. You're afraid you'll be obstructed in some way or disappointed or fail, that you'll fail. And you have desire, but you're afraid to commit to your own desire.

You're afraid to come out with it. You're afraid to be honest about it, even to yourselves. So that's when you get into having all kinds of secondary responses, where you're just trying to cover up what it is you really want.

Just in case someone notices, and then you're sort of committed to it, you know. And then what happens if you fail or you get disappointed or you're not up to it? You're all worried about that.

So you know, the first step is to really be honest with yourself about what it is you want, your own desire. And then stake your whole life on it.

What else have you got, really? It's just a life [laughter].

You know, it's not really that much of a big deal. Just one among many. You might as well stake your life on the desire—what's really impelling you. But there's just so many hedging of bets going on.

Ma said, to get everything you have to give everything. Well, first you have to want to get everything. And that's a stumbling block for people. Just think about it in, like, ordinary mind way.

If you're like wanting to be friends with somebody or you're wanting to be in a relationship with somebody. A lot of people find it really hard to say, oh, I'd really like to be friends with you, or I'd really like to go out with you. People find that hard. Or, I really, really like you [laughs].

You're just afraid to say stuff like that because then what if something doesn't go right? You know, the other person doesn't feel the same way you do?

Well, if you say, I really really like you to God, believe me, God will be like..[laughter].

So in a sense, some of the stripping away that people experience as you go along in the path, if you're really practicing, Ma described that process of stripping away.

She talked, when she was talking once to her principal disciple, Bhaiji, she said, I'm going to take everything from you until there's nothing left but me. And what did she mean by that?

She meant 'till all you see is me (Ma). I'm going to take away all your other attachments. She didn't mean she was going to, like, take all his relations away and impoverish him and, you know, grind him into dust with her foot.

That's not what she meant. She meant she was going to take away all his attachments to everything. And, so that all he would see would be her.

You have to want that, to get everything. But in the meantime, you should just try to be honest with yourself about your real, your deepest desire. What is it really? And then put all your money on that.

Then you'll be powerful and magic will happen. Everything just organizes around that in a very magical way. And there's just absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

So make your whole life into that kind of prayer, organized around your real desires. Ask for what you want.

I don't mean silly, ordinary day stuff. You can do that too, if you want. But as far as I'm concerned, is a waste of energy.

Because that stuff will come anyway as it's supposed to. It's not really important to focus on that. It's not important to, I mean, there's no reason to push anything away. You need to have habitable life.

But find your desire and stake everything on it. Make a prayer out of it. Demand what you want from God and don't hold anything back.

Why not? What else is there to do? I don't think there's really anything else to do.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.