How often do we turn around and question the Lord, “Why me?”
In times of sorrow, it’s almost like an instant reaction. We may be experiencing physical pain, relationship problems or a financial crisis. Whatever it may be, we’re always quick to whine.
Have we ever thought what our beloved Master must be going through having to listen to everyone’s complaints?
We may have been on the path for years, attending satsang and participating in seva regularly, but in times of pain or suffering, just when we’re supposed to put into practice what we hear, we may lose our balance. We seem to forget our Sant Mat basics and become consumed by our circumstances.
The answer to our complaints, as we know, lies in the inexorable law of karma. We know perfectly well that as we sow, so shall we reap. Perhaps due to the fact that the reaction tends to follow the action with a certain lag, possibly after many lives, we don’t perceive it as a direct consequence of something we’ve done. Regardless, everything we receive is according to our own doings. Blaming fate or protesting to the Lord about it being unfair will not change this.
Thankfully, we have a very powerful tool which can help us combat these situations: our own attitude. As Baba Ji has often emphasized, we must cultivate a positive attitude. Let’s look at this logically. Our life is like a mathematical equation we have to solve. We can only solve this equation using the parameters and factors we have been given. Whilst most of the factors in our lives are fixed, we can change one of them – our attitude. When we find ourselves going through a tough period in our lives, we have two choices. Either we moan and wail our way through our karma or we accept what we’re given and change ourselves to adjust to that particular situation. In either case we can’t change our karma – we have to go through it. But what we can choose is how we do so.
And, of course, we’ve got to remember that the downs in our lives are temporary phases, which no doubt will pass in time. Life is all about ups and downs. Whether we decide to pass through our low periods happily or crying is up to us. What we must realize is that by not changing our attitude, we’re the ones to suffer. It is a shame that depression and anxiety – symptoms of being unable to adjust to our circumstances – are increasingly frequent in modern society.
The best way to illustrate this attitude conundrum is with the example Maharaj Charan Singh often used to give. He used to relate the alternating seasons, summer and winter, to the ups and downs of our life. Summer has to come, just as the winter must come too. We cannot change the season, but we can always make appropriate preparations. When winter comes, we may obtain warm clothes and arrange for heating to endure it in relative comfort. If we do not adequately prepare, we suffer the cold. We do not say, “Why has winter come?” nor do we refuse to prepare for winter.
In a similar manner, we can change our mental attitude to prepare for and endure challenges in our lives. We can mould ourselves to adjust to those circumstances, which we have to face, which we cannot avoid, and which are already destined.
We can derive a lot of comfort from the knowledge that our karma is administered by our Master. What could be more comforting than that? Who could better manage our destiny than our Master? However, we must realize that the Master can help us only if we allow him to do so. We can’t keep interfering in his work. Let’s try to make things easier for him by placing a little faith in him. When things go the way we want them to, we’re quick to recognize his grace. But precisely when things aren’t going our way is when we should strengthen that faith. When we feel that pain is coming our way, let’s sit back and say, “Master, you know best, do that which you think is best for me.” Let us be positive and remember that going through our karmas is part of our journey back home to the Lord.
He who pursues learning will increase every day;
He who pursues Tao will decrease every day.
He will decrease and continue to decrease,
till he comes to non-action;
By non-action everything can be done.
Lao Tzu, as quoted in A Treasury of Mystic Terms
Know, O comrade, that your sleep
And waking (in this world)
Is as though a sleeper should dream
That he has gone to sleep.
He thinks, “Now I am asleep,”
Unaware that he is really in the second sleep.
Rumi, as quoted in A Treasury of Mystic Terms