Find the Positive!
There is no doubt that these past months of Covid-19 have shaken us up, changed our lives, and given us a global wake-up call.
We have been, and still are, locked in the throes of an epic battle with a malevolent virus. And for many of us it has been an exceptionally difficult period of time. Everyone has been affected in some way. No one invites nor welcomes calamity into their lives, but when it arrives unbidden they must deal with it in the best way they can. We can either dwell on the negative and drag ourselves down, or find the positive and pull ourselves up.
People have taken various approaches when considering these two options. For some, the effects of this pandemic have offered an unsolicited opportunity to take stock of their lives. For many, it has been a time of forced seclusion, limiting their engagement with the tumultuous world around them. There are those who have used this time to reflect and be unusually thoughtful and deliberate about how they spend their time and energy. They have used this interval to restructure their daily lives around those things which are most important. As a result, they are casting off those things which were bad habits or simply did not add sufficient value to their lives, and they are thoughtfully replacing them with activities that enhance their lives and help them stay focused on their spiritual path. Some have asked themselves the all-important question: Am I making the best use of this precious life the Lord has granted me?
When we look at our family, friends, and the people around us, we see a myriad of experiences and emotions resulting from our forced isolation. But one thing we all have in common is that our lives are different now.
Great Master writes:
This world is the plane of struggle. There has never been peace here, nor will there be. Problems of today give place to problems of tomorrow. In a place where mind and matter are active, there can never be peace… The soul must seek other planes to find peace. To find peace is the business of the individual. Everybody has to seek it within himself.1
Ultimately this is the only lasting solution to our current difficulties – or to any difficulty. And the Master is only interested in a true and lasting solution.
Again, from Great Master:
I am well aware that you have struggles. You have some things within yourself to overcome and some things outside of yourself which must be surmounted. But you can do it. If you have full confidence in the inner Master, he will always help you. And often when you find the difficulties greatest and the hour darkest, the light will appear and you will see that you are free. Let nothing discourage you.2
There is no question that it has been a difficult time for many of us. But it is also true that we are extremely fortunate. Our lives are held steadfast to the solid anchor of Sant Mat. We may get tossed and buffeted by the winds and waves of life, but our anchor is deep and strong, and keeps us secured through turbulent times.
It would be irrational to think that we know what the future holds, or to think that once this Corona virus becomes manageable, there will be no more trials or calamities for us to deal with. These have always been a part of this plane of existence. As Hazur Maharaj Ji tells us:
The world is no more than a bubble that may burst at any minute. … We are hardly rid of one fetter when a tighter one is fastened onto us. … The realization of the deception of this drama comes only when we wake up – at the time of our death. The moment death closes upon us, everything of this world – friends and relations, wealth and possessions, name and fame, caste and creed – is left behind. Only then do we realize that our time has just been wasted in illusion, in trying to make ours that which can never become ours.3
Many, many times, Master has told us that we cannot change the course of events dictated by our destiny. But we can change our attitude in facing these events of life.
The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is attributed as saying:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.4
The serenity, courage, and wisdom he is asking for comes through meditation.
The Masters tell us that to develop a true sense of happiness, contentment and peace of mind we must adjust to these events and the daily challenges of life.
We are not helpless in this present situation. Sant Mat is a path of action, a path steeped through and through with positivity. We need to draw up our courage, change the things we can, and redouble our efforts to follow the guidance of the Guru. In this way we can lift ourselves up during this period of widespread distress. We have to adapt and change to suit our present circumstances and surroundings, but we can do it, and we can move forward. We can be a source of strength, stability and optimism to others. The things we cannot change, the things beyond our control, we have to let go. Being obsessed by them is self-defeating.
Many, if not most aspects of our daily lives, were swiftly turned upside down by this pandemic. Many things about the world changed seemingly overnight, some of them forever. But some things did not change, not at all. Not one iota. The basic tenets and practice of Sant Mat remain absolutely constant!
No matter what the current state of the world is the Masters give us the same guidance:
Do your meditation and lead a Sant Mat way of life.
When we stay true to the practice and principles of Sant Mat, we can remain balanced and at peace with ourselves, whatever the current state of the world may be.
Look at how hard Baba Ji is striving to support and encourage us as we isolate ourselves taking refuge from this calamity: his travels, the weekly questions and answers, Zoom calls, and so much more. He has adapted to the use of new media to reach us but his message is the same.
Recently we have heard him talk a lot about doing our duty, fulfilling our responsibilities, and being a good human being. Many of our family, friends and acquaintances have truly struggled during this pandemic. In order to lift them up, some people have found deep reservoirs of empathy, self-sacrifice and hidden strengths and abilities that they didn’t even know existed within themselves. Some have given of themselves on a level previously unimagined by them. Look at the healthcare professionals and volunteers. What a shining example of being a good human being! No matter what our circumstances, we all have an opportunity to be a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate version of ourselves. We all have the opportunity to be a comfort to others, and to assist them in whatever way we can. But in order to do that we must be strong ourselves and able to keep our balance. We can’t give what we don’t have.
Hazur Maharaj Ji writes about serving others:
If we can do anything to help anybody, we should. That is our duty. We are meant to help each other. Humans are meant to help humans – who else will help? Birds and lions will not come to help you! You have to help each other. We should be a source of strength to each other, but we should not be involved with the suffering of another person to the extent that we start suffering ourselves – that we ourselves become miserable. We must be strong enough not to be affected. We have to be very helpful, kind and compassionate to them, and help them with their problems.5
Living the Sant Mat way of life provides that strength and that unshakeable foundation. No matter what we as individuals or as global citizens are going through, the essential truths remain constant. The guiding principles of Sant Mat have not changed; they have only been brought more sharply into focus.
When immersed in the world of maya, and when dominated by the negative mind, we will never find the peace we are searching for. It is only when we turn our gaze inward that we will find this peace that transcends anything we could ever imagine or hope for.
There is nothing equal to this way, and it gives more real joy and satisfaction than all else in the world. But to get that you have to go inside. It cannot be realized outside.6
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, # 148
- Spiritual Gems, # 152
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live, pp.10–12
- Legacy of Love, p. 372
- Spiritual Gems, # 152