Bend Not Break
Be like a bamboo.
It bends, but does not break;
it’s flexible, yet firmly rooted.
Bamboo is hard and firm and yet sways gently in the breeze while its trunks stay rooted firmly in the ground. The nature of bamboo gives us insight into the secret of facing the ups and downs of life.
Life was never meant to be easy; it was never meant to offer us permanent happiness and peace of mind. But at the same time, life need not exhaust and overwhelm us. Failures are meant to break our ego not our spiritual will to go on. Our karmas were never meant to defeat us but rather to humble us. We have been allocated a destiny based on our load of karmas, but we have also been given the capacity to bear that load. There is a saying that the will of the Lord will never lead us where the grace of the Lord cannot keep us.
A bend-but-don’t-break or go-with-the-flow attitude comes from having a non-judgmental outlook towards life and people. It allows us to forgive others and ourselves for mistakes and incompatibilities. While this is not an easy outlook to adopt, with sincere effort it can be learned. Like any other skill, changing our outlook and adopting a good attitude requires conscious practice supported by effort in meditation.
Meditation will strengthen your love, strengthen your faith, strengthen your devotion. Your roots will go very deep, and then nobody will be able to shake you from the path. There is no other way – only by meditation.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Botanical studies reveal that in its first four years of life, the Chinese bamboo tree shows no growth above the soil. But in the fifth year, the tree can grow as much as 60 feet in a span of just six weeks. But this is only possible because in the early years, the tree develops a strong root system underground to support its growth. The same principle is true for our maturity on the path. Out of impatience, we look for early signs of progress and feel discouraged by the persistent darkness within. But the mind has been attached to this creation for so long that reversing the outward flow of attention is a slow affair. We need to be patient and build our efforts on a foundation that has to sustain a phenomenal growth that has yet to come.
Remember that once the seed of Nam has been planted, it must become a tree and bear fruit. Brahmand may perish, but the seed of Nam will not perish.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
In Ryuho Okawa’s book Invincible Thinking – There is No Such Thing as Defeat, he discusses the pattern of joints on a bamboo stalk. He notes that the joints of bamboo occur at intervals of eight to twelve inches, and each joint is very strong. In this way, the bamboo grows steadily, segment by segment, up to as high as 60 feet despite the stalk being only eight to ten inches wide.
Similarly, by attending to our meditation regularly, day after day, we too are growing ‘segment by segment’. We experience a change in our attitude, we feel a sense of contentment, we experience greater peace of mind. All this forms part of the spiritual maturity needed to support our upcoming realization. It is only by persistence and commitment to the teachings that we can progress steadily to reach greater spiritual heights. With our belief deeply rooted in a strong foundation, when faced with the storms of daily life we will bend in humility rather than break in despair.
Do not lose heart but fight courageously. The battle has just begun. Mind is not stronger than the sound current. The Master is with you. He is watching your every movement. He is prepared to fight your battles with you. Take him as your helper. Have faith in him. Fight the mind and you will succeed.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems