In the early years of Ananda, especially during the cold winters, an essential item for survival was a good down sleeping bag. This was because very few of our dwellings had adequate heating. Whether we were toughing it out in a canvas teepee, or luxuriating in an old bread truck, by the middle of the night our homes were freezing. It was then that our sleeping bags became our best friends.
I remember facing many a cold, dark morning as I woke up to the buzzing of my alarm clock telling me it was time for meditation. The challenge of emerging from the warm cocoon of my down bag into the frigid air of my small trailer was a daily struggle.
One friend came up with a great image to describe the experience: “Some people are like toast. When the alarm clock goes off, they immediately pop out of bed. Others are like baked potatoes – they like to hunker down in the warmth and remain there.”
People who fell more into the “baked potato” category developed different techniques to roust themselves out of bed. Someone told me that when his alarm clock went off, he would turn on his flashlight and roll it across the room. This would force him to get up to retrieve it before the batteries ran down. Others would have a “wake-up buddy” pound on their door and remain outside till the “baked potato” said they were getting up.
Those cold mornings had their challenges, but they also provided wonderful training in self-discipline and had a great sense of adventure about them. Master said that the reason most people don’t make progress on the path is that they lack a “sense of spiritual adventuresomeness.”
To pop up and say yes to the adventure of life, to push past the warmth of the comfortable, and to face challenges cheerfully – all these are survival tools much more enduring and valuable than even our cherished down sleeping bags.
If you are in the “toast” category, you are probably doing fine already. But if you are a “baked potato,” don’t be afraid to face the challenges before you. They are God’s gift to roust you out of your current state of spiritual slumber and help you awaken fully in Him.
With love in God,