As real as gravity, is the fact that we all face difficult situations in life. No matter, how optimistic we are, we all face adversities. This is the reality of life. The interesting thing about adversities is that as we are going through them, it may feel like the end of the world, but they always come to an end.
“samay ki sabse khubsurat baat ye hai ki acha ho ya bura, guzar jaata hai”
One day, Anurag receives a news from his doctor that he had developed a growth in his spine and that it could be cancerous. The doctor recommended an immediate surgery which couldn’t have been delayed even by a single day and if it’s cancer it had already spread. His world had come crashing down. Imagine a person with a young family receiving this news. What do you do in such a situation? How do you remain calm? He went back to the source of all Love, knowledge, and wisdom, his Mentor. That alone gave him courage, and attitude to deal with this situation. Over the last 20 years, his mentor had taught him several things that collectively formed an attitude of gratitude.
There is a profound learning for all of us here. When we connect to our source in the time of adversity, the challenges of life don’t overwhelm us. Our mentor teaches us these aspects of life to gain a natural courage to face the challenges of life. This approach helps us treat any adversity as an opportunity to learn.
The ability to allow things, people, and situations to be the way they are is acceptance. This is the strongest tool to truly understand a situation. When a tough situation appears in your life, understanding it thoroughly can only be done when we accept them the way they are. So, what are challenges, really? Challenges are not our enemies; life offers opportunities to gain experience through these difficult situations. Accept them for they are opportunities. This is not false optimism; this is a practical way to live life with a sense of purpose.
Our mentor says, “Don’t say to God, why me? Say, try me!”
Charlie Chaplin said, “nothing is forever in this world, not even your problems”
Accepting people, the way they are aligns our expectations with the reality. Very high expectations cause very severe stress. A simple act of just accepting them within ourself eases the flow of thoughts, and we don’t brood.
As our mentor says, “The root cause of all misery is Ego”. It is the biggest weakness of mankind. Ego causes us to perceive things in a negative manner which makes difficult situations painful whereas acceptance would make the same situation feel like an opportunity to learn. Ego turns pain into suffering.
The interesting thing is that most of the difficult situations in our lives are around our relationships. The relationships with our spouse, our parents, our children, our colleagues, or our friends are some of our closest ones, and they should bring love and happiness in our lives, but just because of ego they become bitter and distant. When we are constantly focused on our own needs and desires, we neglect others, which leads to conflicts and misunderstandings in our relationships. With the help of a spiritual master, the student learns to observe the ego and goes beyond it, introduce empathy, humility, and generosity in their lives.
Love and Surrender are the opposite of ego. Surrender is not losing; it’s not giving up. It’s being one with our natural flow. When a significant pain appears in our life, practicing surrender helps us letting go of the pain.
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥
The Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna to let go of his attachments to the results for he cannot control them, but he has the absolute right on his own actions. Surrender is a journey and not a destination; it’s a practice. We should introduce Surrender in our lives in little things to help us practice it when big things happen to us. When we surrender to a higher power, we start seeing the presence of that power in our life. It is this presence that helps us overcome the challenges, so we should start accepting and appreciating the presence of God in every aspect of our life; feel and express gratitude for things like our house, food we get to eat, our relationships (parents, spouse, siblings), our job/business etc. People who practice surrender don’t lose, they either win or they learn.
LIFE OF SERVICE
What is the true measure of a life? Is it our designation, the amount of money or possessions we have? Or is it how much of life did we spend serving? The answer to this question is very personal but determines our response to the challenges of life. Self-interest and self-involvement cause a lot of frustration when something doesn’t go according to our expectations, whereas a person who is genuinely interested in the welfare of others, in serving have very little expectations about the result, and having less expectations makes any situation easier to deal with. Therefore, a Spiritual Master teaches by example that a zeal to serve others can result in leading a meaningful life.
LEARN YOUR LESSON
“When it hurts – Observe. Life is trying to teach you something” – Buddha
God doesn’t send difficult situations to hurt us; God sends the difficult situations, so we learn our lesson and move towards him. If the same situation keeps presenting itself in our lives, it’s a sign that we haven’t learned the lesson that life is trying to teach us through that situation.
Let’s ask ourselves, “what’s the lesson.” not “what did I do wrong” or “why does it keep happening to me.” Our attitude towards difficult situations is crucial. If we can maintain a positive outlook and remain calm, we are more likely to find a way through them. Maybe the situation we are facing right now is trying to teach us to be calm, we can do that as an experiment. Try to remain calm when a situation presents itself and observe. With the guidance from a spiritual master, a sadhak learns to build a learning attitude in general. A true sadhak learns from everybody, and every situation.
“If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer, if you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow” – Buddha
GIVE WHAT YOU WANT
The preparation of handling the challenges of life is long but simple. We must ensure that we don’t become a reason for stress for anybody else. When we spread love, laughter, joy, kindness and God’s word, these things start to appear in our lives a lot more. It doesn’t mean that we will never face any difficult situations, but our attitude towards handling those situations will be positive. Our mentor shares a very simple example; if we feel like eating a samosa, the best way to do that is to buy samosas for everybody in the room, share with everybody; we will obviously also get to eat one. The great thing is that we will also spread positivity in this way.
When we squeeze an Orange, only Orange juice will come out! There is no possibility of anything else to come out from an Orange. If we get angry and frustrated when we feel pressure is because that’s what’s inside. Our anger isn’t the result of what others do to us, it’s a result of what’s inside of us.
The mentor heals from within and moves our attention from hurt to love,
from what’s wrong to what’s possible,
from pain to lesson,
and from “what’s in it for me” to “how can I serve”.
This attention shift makes us stronger and ready to face all the challenges of life.