It so happens that on the spiritual path there is a sense of the ordinary – there is no progress, nothing changes, we do not feel the expansion of consciousness, liberation from illusions and transformation of our own personality. In fact, such moments happen quite often, and their danger is that it is during such periods that many abandon the spiritual path. Whether it is a lack of motivation or some kind of karmic obstacles that do not let a person go further is not so important, because there can be many reasons. How can you overcome these periods of melancholy, laziness and stagnation in your practice?
Scriptures about the life of great yogis, practitioners, saints, ascetics and just worthy people who should be imitated in something can come to the rescue. One such example is the life of the Monk Seraphim of Sarov.
The life of Seraphim Sarovsky
“Reverend” is the name of the so-called face of holiness, or the category to which Seraphim of Sarov belongs. What does it mean? That is, one who has become “like”. The question arises: similar to whom? The category of saints includes those who, through their monastic activities, tried to be like Jesus Christ and achieved certain success in this. This was also Seraphim Sarovsky.
Serafim Sarovsky was born in 1754 in Kursk, in a wealthy merchant family. It would seem that not the most ideal conditions to embark on the path of self-development. For, as historical experience shows, being born into a wealthy and influential family most often leads to spoiledness and an inadequate worldview. One of the most striking exceptions can be considered only Buddha Shakyamuni, who, despite being born a prince, embarked on a spiritual path. But he was a Tathagata and at the moment of birth already possessed colossal experience and good karma, which allowed him, as they say, to “walk along the edge.” Apparently, the same experience from past lives and good karma allowed Seraphim of Sarov (who at that time was called Prokhor Moshnin) to embark on a spiritual path. And this happened, possibly due to a seemingly tragic event, – Prokhor’s father passed away very early. At that time, the family had three children, certain difficulties began, which, perhaps, prompted Prokhor to search for a spiritual path. This is exactly the case when, at first glance, a negative event, in fact, leads a person to some goal, to his path, to his destination.
The years of the life of Seraphim of Sarov
Already in early childhood, miracles began to happen with Prokhor (the future Seraphim of Sarov), which indicated that a great soul was embodied in this body.
As a child, Prokhor fell from the high bell tower of the Sergiev-Kazan Cathedral under construction. Looking down and leaning over the railing, he fell down like a stone. However, to the surprise of his terrified mother, he remained completely unharmed. But the miracles don’t end there. At the age of about 10 years old, the boy became seriously ill. The disease was so severe that everyone was almost resigned to the fact that the boy would die. However, the Mother of God appeared to Prokhor in a dream and promised a speedy recovery from the disease. Then an amazing “accident” happened – during the procession of the cross, when the icon of the Mother of God was being carried around the city, heavy rain began, and in order to shorten the path, it was decided to carry the icon through the courtyard where the sick boy was. The mother, having learned about this, carried the child out and brought it to the icon. After that, the child quickly recovered and recovered miraculously. After the healing, Prokhor with great zeal began to devote time to reading and even learned to write. Prokhor began to show more and more interest in spiritual life, and in 1774 he made a pilgrimage to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where he received the blessing to take monastic tonsure. After that, he went to the monastery, which was pointed out to him by the old woman Dosithea, who gave her blessing. This monastery was the Holy Dormition Sarov Hermitage. Two years later, he became a novice in this monastery, and in 1786 he took monastic vows and received his new name – Seraphim. After that, he went to the monastery, which was pointed out to him by the elder Dosithea, who gave her blessing. This monastery was the Holy Dormition Sarov Hermitage. Two years later, he became a novice in this monastery, and in 1786 he took monastic vows and received his new name – Seraphim. After that, he went to the monastery, which was pointed out to him by the elder Dosithea, who gave her blessing. This monastery was the Holy Dormition Sarov Hermitage. Two years later, he became a novice in this monastery, and in 1786 he took monastic vows and received his new name – Seraphim.
In 1794, after receiving the rank of hieromonk, he began to lead an ascetic hermit life outside the monastery, settling in a cell a few kilometers from it.
Exercising in asceticism, Seraphim wore the same clothes all year round and ate what nature gave him. For two and a half years, Seraphim ate only the grass growing in the forest – desolation. It is interesting what modern “gurus” of dietetics would say about this, who preach “varied” nutrition with the calculation of calories, vitamins and microelements. Seraphim, fortunately, did not know all this and lived in the forest in complete harmony with nature: animals came to Seraphim, whom he fed with bread. Among the animals there was even a bear, which calmly ate directly from the hands of the saint. This, by the way, is a vivid example of what happens to a person when he ceases to be violent both at the physical level and at the level of the mind. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali it is clearly stated, that the observance of the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence) leads to the manifestation of certain superpowers – it is impossible to show violence and aggression to a person who observes Ahimsa at the highest level. And the example of Seraphim of Sarov is a vivid confirmation of this. All his time Seraphim spent in the study of the Gospel, prayers and other spiritual practices. For example, Seraphim of Sarov spent a thousand days on a stone boulder, performing the practice of stolpniki (continuous prayer).
However, like every saint and ascetic, Seraphim of Sarov also had negative karma from past incarnations, which, undoubtedly, should have manifested itself. The fact is that if a person has negative karma, then it, like ballast in a balloon, will not allow him to move up. But it is worth noting that the Universe is intelligent and always contributes to our development, therefore, in the life of spiritual practitioners, negative karma manifests itself as quickly as possible in order to allow a person to advance along the path of spiritual development. And once this negative karma in the life of Seraphim of Sarov was manifested by a meeting with robbers. The robbers, inspired by rumors that rich visitors were coming to Seraphim, decided, just think, to rob the monastic cell. They severely beat Seraphim, who did not even resist, as he understood by what laws does this world live and, obviously, took it as a manifestation of personal negative karma. The robbers, of course, did not find anything in the cell and fled.
However, the miracle manifested itself again, and the Seraphim, despite the broken skull, survived, however, remained hunched over. The robbers were soon caught, but Seraphim, obviously realizing that this was a manifestation of negative karma, and the robbers in this case are just an instrument of retribution, forgave them and ordered them to be released.
This is a vivid example of how to perceive negative events in your life. Everything that manifests itself in it are the consequences of our actions in the past, and such great saints as Seraphim of Sarov understand this perfectly. Therefore, they do not even strive to restore some illusory and subjective “justice”, realizing that this world is already perfect, and justice is already present in it. And, since everything is fair in this world, soon the fruits of the robbers’ deeds returned to them too: under strange circumstances their houses were burned down, after which they realized some things in this life and themselves came to Seraphim, begging them to forgive and pray fervently for them. Again, it is worth paying attention to the fact that as a result of seemingly unpleasant events, all the participants advanced in their development.
In 1807, Seraphim of Sarov took a vow of silence and completely stopped contacting the outside world. After three years of solitary life, he returned to the monastery, where he went into seclusion and continued his solitary life for another 15 years. After which, obviously, having already reached a very high level of spiritual realization, he, as befits a spiritual practice, began to receive visitors who came to him with their various problems, spiritual and physical. Having acquired the gift of omniscience and healing, Seraphim served people until his death – January 2, 1833. Noble people also came to Seraphim, and there is information that even Tsar Alexander I himself visited him.
Almost 70 years after his death, Seraphim of Sarov was numbered among the monks. For a long time, the Orthodox Church refused to canonize Seraphim of Sarov, for the reason that it considered him an Old Believer for a number of reasons. And only in 1903, under public pressure and literally on the personal order of Tsar Nicholas II, the church was forced to canonize Seraphim of Sarov.
Seraphim Sarovsky’s experience
The life and spiritual exploits of Seraphim of Sarov can be a real example of imitation for modern practitioners. His attitude towards life, as well as diligence on the path, severe austerities, adherence to the principles of accepting everything that manifests itself in life can be a beneficial experience for us. The life of Seraphim of Sarov is a vivid example of how two main principles of spiritual development should be combined on the spiritual path: altruism and asceticism. Performing austerities without serving people is meaningless. If Seraphim of Sarov had just taken refuge in the forest, hardly anyone would have known about him. And all his development would not benefit anyone, except perhaps the bear he fed. And if Seraphim Sarovsky did not make efforts to himself and did not practice austerities, then he would also be useless to this world, since he could not reach that level of realization,
It is important to always remember this and maintain a balance between the practice of austerity and service to the world. This is the middle path, which Buddha Shakyamuni also spoke about, who first went into extreme austerities, and then realized that it was simply ineffective. But at a certain stage, seclusion from society is necessary in order to get acquainted with your inner world. This is the experience of all great practitioners. But after achieving spiritual realization, one should again return to people and apply the tools that the practitioner has. Otherwise, everything is meaningless.