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Whether we have an affinity with the Christ or not, his resolution of ‘Let Thy Will be done,’ is accepted by many, as perhaps the greatest ever. Understanding his mission and the atonement that it would require, he followed the path of selfless sacrifice and did not flinch as he prayed:
“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup fall from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” St, Matthew, 26:39. (King James vers., red letter edit).
It is said that the Buddha, while sitting under the Bodhi tree, resolved not to move until he had attained enlightenment, and he did. So great was his resolve!
Of course no one is suggesting that we do make resolutions that lofty and profound right now. You may wish to do so, but this writer has something more suitable for us ‘mortals’ in mind.
The good Swami Paramananda, in his book aptly called … yes, you guessed, ‘Right Resolutions,’ speaks to our hearts thus:
“I shall begin this day with the resolution that I may in every way, make myself an open channel for God’s love to manifest through me …
I shall begin this day, with the resolution that all my thoughts, words and deeds be constructive, helpful and productive of great good.”
Perhaps recognizing his own limitations, or wishing to give us hope, the Swami tries to reassure us by recognizing the difficulties of such resolutions:
“This task I know in my heart of hearts is most difficult, as there are people, places and occasions which may provoke unloving thoughts, but I shall cling with all my might to this principle, reminding myself forcefully that: Love is greater than hate ….” And so it goes on.
We do not have time here for the rest of the Swami’s inspirations, but for weaker souls, resolutions can be quite daunting, and yes, very difficult to accomplish. I know a particularly sincere and devoted soul, who has been struggling with one resolution for 31 years!! She is charming and loving in so many other ways, and yet, this particular resolution seem to have a strangle hold on her and just won’t let go.
So how do we make resolutions? Why is there a need for the transformation of our lower nature? Put simply, without change we either cannot grow or we will progress at the pace of an Indian bullock cart. Consequently, in the heat of intoxication or perhaps spurred on by an advert on T.V, particular if it’s December 31st, 201…. - yes, you’ve guessed it – we make some quick resolutions.
Much later we are quite sober and the resolutions of giving up alcohol or quitting smoking simply disappear. Of course some of them last much longer, until they gradually fade away in the back ground until the next New Year and we pick them up again.
It is an excellent idea to make resolutions. Indeed being ourselves, we are sometimes quite conscious of habits that are hard to extinguish and we would dearly love to transform them. This is because we know, consciously or unconsciously, that they are quite detrimental to our spiritual growth.
But the old habits hang on and hang on and …we know they are there, and perhaps that’s healthy to, as this offers us an opportunity for change. Alas! Change seems to take an eternity.
This is because, as is common knowledge, old habits die hard and one is constantly walking a tightrope with them, or even sitting close to a razor’s edge.
Are Resolutions Useful?
Continuing in his wonderful book, the Swami seems to be a master of psychology:
“I shall not allow discouragement and depression to come upon me in my struggle to establish myself in this divine rhythm.”
Here he acknowledges struggle, and in the next quote he encourages us with the joy of an indomitable will to start again, should we fail:
“If, perchance, my purpose is overshadowed by momentary gloom, doubt or dejection,’ he says, “I shall start again with renewed faith and hope, and call out with a yearning spirit to the Supreme Power to re-establish me in my resolution.” – Right resolutions, P 7, 8 and 9, Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Bourne End, Bucks. 2nd Edit, (1981)
Some resolutions are simple and are soon forgotten, whether it’s to renew our friendship with an old acquaintance or to lose weight or to stop swearing, they are ok to let go, as long as they do not weaken us.
But some things do diminish our inner and external strength, and here the timely reminder of Paramananda is useful, in so far as he inspires us to renew or invigorate our resolve, towards enhancing our lives and consequently living with greater balance or harmony.
May we all be patient, pray with fervor for practical solutions to our age old problems, and ask, like the Swami, that the Wise and Omnipotent One, the Source of our life, strength and vigor, grant us peace and make us true in our thoughts, words and deeds. – Manatita 5th January, 2013.