By Paulo Coelho
A disciple went to Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav:
“I shall not continue with my studies of sacred texts,” he said. “I live in a small house with my brothers and parents, and never have the ideal conditions for concentrating on that which is important.”
Nachman pointed to the sun and asked his disciple to place his hand over his face, in order to hide it. The disciple obeyed.
“Your hand is small, yet it can completely cover the power, light and majesty of the great sun. In the same way, the small problems manage to give you the excuse you need in order to hinder your progress along your spiritual journey.
“Just as your hand has the power to hide the sun, mediocrity has the power to hide your inner light. Do not blame others for your own incompetence.”
Whether it is spiritual path or worldly life, we tend to make excuses or blame others to cover up our own incompetence and failures.
Living at the level of the senses like animals do, is easy, no effort is needed. Sliding down a mountain slope is easy, but climbing a mountain is difficult.
Evolution, whether spiritual or secular, is a struggle to rise above the present state. To evolve beyond living merely at the sensory level is a tough spiritual practice.
Therefore, spiritual life is not for the weaklings who are scared of struggle.
The person who wants to learn to swim, but stands on the seashore afraid to enter the water due to the waves, or waits for all the waves to calm down before he can enter it, will never learn swimming.
Similarly, there will never be an ideal, very conducive atmosphere for spiritual practice. Whatever environment we are in, amidst all the distractions, we need to find some quite time, however little it may be, for higher contemplation.