Enter by the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction,
and there are many who enter by it.
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life,
and there are few who find it.
Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14
Life can be extremely difficult, sometimes it can even be absolute hell.
Buddha said that life is filled with suffering when we allow our selfish desires and cravings for external pleasure to rule us.
There seems to be an unending supply of ways to go wrong in life – this is the wide gate which leads to the destruction of wisdom, and with it, any chance of experiencing love and peace.
So many ways there are to stray into destructive undertakings.
So easy it is to fall into resentment, anger, fear, addiction, depression, and chaos.
The consequence of following the ego’s endless desires and reactions is suffering in all its forms.
“When you let your mind follow the call of the senses, they carry away your better judgment as storms drive a boat off its chartered course”.
Bhagavad Gita 2.67
Yet the path that leads to a fulfilling and meaningful life (psychological heaven), is far more difficult to find and walk – the narrow gate – for we are bombarded on all sides with external distractions and inner egoic desires.
The narrow gate that leads to heaven is found in doing all the things we know are good for us, that propel us forward, and not doing all the things we know are bad for us and that hold us back.
It is found in moderation, temperance, and self-control.
“Let the Atman (Self/Soul) rule the ego and its selfish desires”.
Bhagavad Gita 3.43
“They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego cage of I, me and mine to be united with the lord of love”.
Bhagavad Gita 2.71
The narrow gate that leads to true fulfilment also involves putting aside our selfish desires and serving others. Your parents, your siblings, your partner, your children, your close circle of friends are the perfect place to start. In a culture that idolises the self (ego), prioritising the needs of your loved ones ahead of your own is an accessible way to go beyond our lower nature and connect with the infinite love and peace of the true Self – Soul.
“True sustenance is found in selfless service and through it you reach Brahman”.
Bhagavad Gita 4.31
In pursuing the path that leads to life it is wise to remember the Divine regularly throughout our day. We can make all our actions an offering to this source. We can offer our life and all we do in service of the Self / God.
“Be aware of me always, adore me, make every act an offering to me, and you shall come to me”.
Bhagavad Gita 18.65
And finally, make time for, and create the habit of, daily stillness and presence. This helps us go beyond the noise, commune with our true Self, and experience the psychological peace and relief we all so desperately need to stay on track in this hectic world.
“In the still mind, in the depths of meditation, the Self reveals itself. Beholding the Self by means of the Self, the aspirant knows the joy and peace of complete fulfilment”.
Bhagavad Gita 6.20
In summary, life is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be hell.
We make it hell when we get off track by taking the easy path of pleasure, comfort, and ease and by failing to live how we know we should – not by anyone else’s measure but by our own.
The further we are from living to our inner ideal, the more unhappy, unfulfilled, and depressed we become.
But we can make this difficult life worthwhile, we can even make it beautiful and heavenly, if we walk the straight and narrow path laid out by our inner ideal and the practices above that leads us to our true Self.
Discipline is not imposing a rigid outer system on yourself, rather it is an expression of self-love, as it is doing what you know is good for you.
Discipline comes from the word disciple. Having discipline means being a disciple of your own inner ideal, a disciple of the true Self and subordinating all your lower tendencies to this higher power.
May we have the discipline to follow the straight and narrow path that leads to life and heaven on earth.
“Be fearless and pure. Never waver in your determination or your dedication to the spiritual life”.
Bhagavad Gita 16.1