Question: In the beginning of my spiritual life I had a lot of enthusiasm but it has waned. How can I continue to make steady progress?

Sri Chinmoy: When we launch into the spiritual life we need enthusiasm. Without it we won’t budge an inch. Enthusiasm is very good, but over-eagerness and impatience are bad. If we eat beyond our capacity, we will suffer from indigestion. In your case it was not enthusiasm. Like a greedy fellow you became over-eager and tried to eat too much. We must not feel that we will be able to realise God overnight, or that we are running in a competition and trying to beat everybody. We are really competing only with our own ignorance. We need patience as well as enthusiasm to win the race.

We must always feel that we have something to achieve and something to give. If we expect abundant peace of mind without self-giving, we are bound to be frustrated. But time is an important factor. We may think with all sincerity, “I am going to realise God tomorrow,” but our utmost sincerity won’t get us a master’s degree overnight. Sincerity is good, but we must also be wise. We have to know our capacity. If we decide that by such and such a date we have to realise God, then we are doomed to disappointment. We should remember that we are like a child who studies a year, then goes one grade higher. We also have to study, to meditate with greatest enthusiasm, but it is a mistake to set a date for the achievement of our goal. If we are sincere, God is bound to give us realisation at His choice Hour.

When a stove is turned on just a little, we may not see the flame at all. When we turn the handle quite far, we see the flame. In the spiritual life also, at first our aspiration is quite small. But gradually we turn a little more and a little more toward God. When we have turned completely to God, our aspiration-flame will burn brightly. In the spiritual life there comes a time, after five or fifteen or even thirty years, depending on God’s Will, when meditation is spontaneous. Once our meditation is spontaneous, we no longer experience enthusiasm for five minutes, and then spend the rest of the day in depression because we thought that during those five minutes we would earn millions of spiritual dollars.

It is always good to have enthusiasm in our life. Otherwise there will be no progress. But if we are over-eager, we will be trying to get things from God long before we are ready to receive them. We are running toward our destination, but if we try to go beyond our capacity we will only stumble and fall and bruise ourselves. This can only delay our progress ultimately. So let us be patient and content to go a little slowly, but steadily and surely.