As we go through life, we notice that it is easy or even natural for us to maintain a positive and cheerful attitude when things go our way. However, for most of us, it takes only one trying circumstance to lose our equanimity. A financial loss, a sudden illness of a loved one or relationship problems are sufficient for us to go through a certain degree of emotional or mental stress. We then begin to question the Lord’s ways.
It is a fact that no one is free from suffering and sorrow, and that grief and affliction are a part of life, depending on one’s karmic load. As long as we exist on this physical plane, we will ceaselessly fluctuate between pleasure and pain.
Saints do not come to the physical world to alter our karmic consequences. Our karmas are ours to face. However, they often remind us that everything happens for a reason. Because of our limited understanding, we may not be able to comprehend the purpose of the difficulties we face. The Lord knows that we learn by experience. With every adversity, we develop deeper levels of patience, love and understanding, making use of the situation to grow stronger mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
When great difficulties arise, and troubles beset, regard your perplexity as a call to deeper thought and more vigorous action. Nothing will attack you that you are not capable of overcoming; no problem will vex you that you cannot solve.
The greater your trial, the greater your test of strength, and the more complete and triumphant your victory. However complicated your maze of confusion may be, there is a way out of it, and the finding of that way will exercise your powers to the utmost, and will bring out all your latent skill, energy and resource. When you have mastered that which threatens to master you, you will rejoice in a new-found strength.
James Allen, Book of Daily Meditations
In truth, it is during difficult times that we are able to assess where we stand on the spiritual path. Are we resistant and easily flustered? Or are we accepting and composed? The greater our trial, the greater is our test of strength. Our Master would not be a loving parent if he protected us from all our problems. He wants us to grow as spiritual beings and not remain as spiritual infants. Thus, he encourages us to face life with patience, rise above our conditions bravely and go through our destiny cheerfully.
But how does one go through pain cheerfully? How can the mind remain calm amidst difficulties and troubles?
The answer is simple – meditation.
Saints explain that through regular spiritual practice, we are able to rise above our problems. While meditation practice may not cause our difficulties to disappear, it will certainly make our attitude and mindset stronger and more positive. Turning to our meditation helps us to regain control of our lives, and with its practice, we are able to build a rock-like foundation that enables us to treat both pleasant and unpleasant situations alike. Meditation can help us weather the storms and make us stronger so that adverse circumstances lose their power to affect us. Calming the storm is not possible; but if we learn to calm ourselves, the storm passes quickly.
Meditation is the solution to all our problems. Instead of putting up your list of demands, put up your meditation. Then you will rise above those problems and they won’t affect your mind at all. You will never be able to solve the problems of the world. But we can always rise above those problems so that they do not affect us, they do not bother us, they become meaningless to us. Meditation helps; that is the real solution to those problems. The solution does not mean that those problems are going to be solved according to our liking – destiny has to play its part – but you will be happy to go through your destiny. That should be our approach to problems. Events will never change according to our wishes; we have to adjust to the events. Happiness lies in adjusting to the events, not making the events adjust to your liking. That will never happen. Destiny has to play its own part.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
So the next time we are faced with life’s intractable problems, instead of asking “why me?” perhaps a better question to ask is “what now?”
It is said that the only human freedom that man possesses is the choice of one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. So what are the choices we can exercise? We can obsessively and incessantly brood over our sorrows and delve into negativity or self-pity, or we can grow from our trials and allow adversity to make us better, instead of bitter. We can drain our body, mind and spirit of all its precious energy and wear ourselves out to the core, or we could turn to our Master, our strength and solace, and use this time to deepen our faith and commitment to him. Life and our worldly ties may disappoint us, but his love, strength and compassion will never fail us.
The problems of the world will never end and have never ended. No man in this world can say that he has no problems in life. Our duty is to make our willpower so strong, through meditation, that we are able to rise above the difficulties of life. Our duty is to make efforts to solve the problems when they arise and, whatever the results of our efforts may be, try to live in the will of the Lord. Meditation indirectly solves all our problems by making us forget this world and its objects. Therefore attend to it with love and faith, without wondering about what life brings to you.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light
When you can have the ocean
why will you seek a drop of evening dew?
Shall he who shares the secrets of the sun
idle with a speck of dust?
Is he who has all, concerned with the part?
Is the soul concerned with members of the body?
If you would be perfect seek the whole,
choose the whole, be whole.
Attar, The Conference of the Birds