Of all the obstacles to your being peaceful and to your advancement along the path toward enlightenment, doubt is among the most difficult. Its negative, constrictive energy hinders growth and expansion which is the essence of the life of the soul. Spiritual flowering can only happen when doubt is transformed into freedom, confidence and trust that arises from doubtlessness.
From that perspective, your life is a journey from doubt to doubtlessness. The pristine glory and innate innocence of our eternal Spirit, which we are all consciously aspiring to reclaim, requires doubtlessness.
In the same way that you do not go into someone’s home unless you are invited, doubts cannot come uninvited into your mind. Doubts come and take up residence because you, the master of your mind, are not home. You have left the door of your mind open for any thoughts, good or ill, to come in.
Countless treacherous emotions love to sneak in and take up residence in your mind. They can only gain entry when you are sleeping or unaware. They can never come when you are awake.
The art of meditation brings us home to the moment. It enables us to be fully present to our own mind, to be so awake that we see thoughts as they are coming in, trying to establish roots in our mind. As the master of your mind, you can always say, “Sorry, wrong address!” It’s actually very simple.
The real truth, though, is that doubt never existed at all. It is a self-created phantom of the mind. You gave the phantom a name, “doubt.” You gave it a form and an identity. You gave it time, space, attention and energy, all of which allowed it to grow in your unconscious mind. Now that you are miserably uncomfortable, you realize this is an unwanted, unhealthy guest in your mind. You want all doubt to leave.
Doubt comes easily. Making it go away is not so easy. Once doubt comes in and finds its space, it grows strong, tenacious roots in your mind. Firmly established, it spreads. Repetitive doubts about many different aspects of your life take hold. With the wildness of a weed, doubt grows in the un-mindful bed of your mind. It leads you into suspicion and dis-ease, creating a toxic atmosphere in the mind. It keeps expanding, extending its reach, as long as you remain unaware and unconscious of your behavioral patterns. Before you know it, what came as a small dot now assumes more and more of your internal space. Doubt and the ways in which it constricts you cut off more territory of the life you were meant to live, crowding out the expansive riches of consciousness that nourish your soul.
What you need to understand is this: don’t fight doubt. How, then, do you move beyond it?
You put your attention elsewhere. You shift your mind to something that you can trust, something to which you can give your heart, easily and spontaneously. You open your heart and focus on that.
If you are busy with something that you trust, whenever doubt comes, it will soon leave, like a neglected guest. Yes, it will come; it will knock, but it will find that you are busy elsewhere. Doubt cannot flourish if you withhold the food which it requires to grow. Giving doubtful thoughts space in your mind, entertaining them, engaging with them, confirming them in any way, gives them the food they need to survive.
Give your mind to light, to something you trust, to that which inspires and moves you. Put your attention there. Immerse yourself in trust in the Divine. Trust the positive power of the life process and the process of your own soul. The more you open in utter submission to Divine light, doubt flees.
How could this planet be as it is, with its billions of species of life forms living in a self-balancing, inherently coordinated, elegant and unified system, without Divine Intelligence? How could that happen? The light of that creative intelligence animates the entire universe from within. It is in you. It is nothing less than your own essence, your soul, your spirit, your eternal Self.
You are the Spirit Eternal, birth-less and deathless. Wherever there is light there is no darkness. When you become conscious through meditative introspection that you are the Soul, you transcend into the world of light.
Obviously, over a period of time, doubt has to die a natural death. First, new doubts will have no space in which to enter. Eventually, any doubt that is already within you will shrivel to nothing, starved by lack of any nourishment, because you will no longer be feeding it with your fear.
Doubt is a dark force inside of you which needs your participation to survive. It is a kind of disease of the mind, a mechanism of the ego that keeps you separate, in illusion, locked in the small “I” of the conditioned mind. A truly healthy mind is without doubt. A doubt-free mind dispels the darkness of fear and gives you the freedom to be who you truly are.
As the desiring mind courts friendship with the Divine, it often focuses on the fulfillment of its desires and dreams. Maturing and growing in consciousness, a time comes when you grow out of the need to ask God for much of anything. As long as the purpose of your relationship with God is to fix your problems and satisfy your desires, you will occasionally fall into the pit. Doubt can take over. Does God exist? If yes, why are my earnest prayers not being answered? Why can’t God fulfill my cherished dreams?
Relating to God without a speck of doubt ultimately occurs through the annihilation of the ego. It is the culmination of persistent surrender and devotion. That is not an easy task. It is not a minor evolution.
The purpose of spirituality is to gradually allow you to work in the field of your mind with patience and trust. In India we call trust shraddha and patience saburi. It may take a long, long time, but these two qualities are essential to moving beyond all your doubts.
When doubt comes, simply watch it as a fleeting thought. Center yourself in the light of your Spirit, in life and the life process. Let faith grow confidence in you until it is strong enough to melt away all doubt. Fill yourself with devotion and love. That will take care of all you need in life. Affirm with conviction, “I am ever safe in the Divine. With every breath of my life, I am one with the all. I trust in unconditional love. All fear and doubt evaporate in the enlightened shrine of my heart.” Repeat this practice time and again, until those doubts which bring you so much restlessness, the ones that destroy your inner peace and harmony, have gone away in silence.
Another way to win over doubt is to practice gratitude and service to others. Express your gratitude for all that God has already given you rather than focusing on your wants. You have been given infinite gifts. Take stock of them and be happy in the abundance of love and support, guidance and Grace that you have already been given.
Find a new way to contribute to another human being each day, to practice generosity of mind and heart. Notice how that expands your experience of the goodness and beauty of life, how that carries the feeling and spirit of your day forward. Extend the practice of compassion in your spiritual life beyond your immediate circle of self, friends and family. Find new venues of compassion through which to express your love for God by serving the living God in those who suffer.
As you fill your mind with compassion for others who are suffering, as your heart swells in gratitude for the infinite blessings that God has bestowed upon you, you come closer to your Eternal Self.
Faith in your own self, faith in the power of the eternal goodness which is always available to you, faith in life and the life process, are the natural antidotes to the poison that doubt creates in your mind and body. As you trust in the infinite power of your inner being, infinite possibilities open to you and in you. In place of doubt and fear comes relaxation and letting go. That, in turn, invites the universal energy to work through you for the fulfillment of your deepest desire, to be enlightened and free.
Gradually, because you are not so concerned about those little doubts that come and go, a time will come when they disappear without you knowing it. Worship trust, worship faith, have patience, serve others, and doubt will have no space in your mind.
You will see that you don’t have to pray for the fulfillment of your desires, they will happen as fragrance happens to flowers. First love the Divine. Then all is yours, not in bits and pieces, but as a whole.
By: Sri Sri Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari
Sri Sri Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari, informally called “Baba,” is a renowned speaker and philosopher. He has authored several books, including the biography of his spiritual master Baba Lokenath – The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi; Words of Pure Bliss and others. “Making Your Mind Your Best Friend” represents his core teachings and will soon be available in the United States. Baba has worked relentlessly for the emancipation of women and children in the slums of Kolkata and the remote villages of West Bengal. He founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission (LDLM) in 1985. More than 200,000 patients are treated each year at the Mission’s outdoor medical clinics & mobile medical vans. The Mission is also leading West Bengal in forming Farmers’
Clubs to promote eco-friendly agricultural and village development. Baba was a delegate at the Millennium Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders of the World organized by the United Nations in August 2000; and he was a presenter at the World Parliament