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imageSwami Sivamurti - Tenacity

Tenacity is that which enables us to keep on going no matter what. Like in Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!

This is an expression of tenacity: to keep going, even when we don’t feel we have the strength, when we think we cannot take another step or manage anymore. A tenacious person will find strength within.

Tenacity is also holding firmly onto our beliefs and principles, in spite of setbacks and challenges. Tenacity is finding out what our principles are, being true to them and ourselves. Once we discover the principles that we hold dear, we will never compromise.

Tenacity is having the courage to face the consequences of our decisions and choices. It is the belief that what happens in life is destined to be, nothing happens by chance or coincidence. It is our karma and we can’t change it. The only choice we have is how we respond or react.

How we react, what we do, say and how we behave triggers the respective consequence. We create our future. We are responsible for our future, and whatever we are facing is the consequence of past action.

The lesson of the spider

Tenacity is a non-defeatist attitude, not backing away until the goal has been achieved. Robert the Bruce, the King of Scotland, was fighting to free Scotland from the British. He had lost many men and many battles and was feeling extremely depressed and defeated. On the eve of the decisive battle, he found a cave and sat down. He suddenly noticed a small spider on the ground of the cave. The spider was trying to reach the roof of the cave to spin her web in a corner. Each time she started to climb a few steps, she would fall down and then start again. She went a little higher and then fell down. Hundreds of times, the small spider tried to reach the roof of the cave and hundreds of lines she fell.

Robert the Bruce was amazed at the tenacity, strength and determination of the spider. She spent the whole night in this way and it was around dawn that she finally managed to reach the roof, where she started to spin her web. Robert the Bruce was so inspired, he went out and gave a famous speech to his men, encouraging them that no matter what failures they faced, no matter how tired, how dejected they were, they must go and win the battle and free Scotland from the British. And they did.

Tenacity is holding firmly onto one's beliefs, which means having
a clear mind. Normally, we don't hold on to our beliefs, we hold
on to a conditioning. The conditionings can be convictions, but
nevertheless, it is a conditioning. That is what has to change,
so that with the true state of expanded awareness, we can
discriminate between the appropriate and the inappropriate,
and maintain the appropriate belief.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

An extract from Swami Sivananda’s 18 ITIES & the Practice of Pratyahara, Yoga Publications Trust Munger, 2013, pp.103-106. By Swami Sivamurti Saraswati.

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