Inspirations from a fellow voyager’s fortitude

To remain centered in the face of uncertainty is the only option you have to avoid suffering. Either you suffer asking why something’s happening to you, wanting to understand what your Life is all about, or you just let go and anchor within.  
           
CNN.com has run a story on the husband of one of the passengers aboard the missing flight MH 370. The story, by Moni Basu, talks of the fortitude and feelings of K.S.Narendran, whose wife Chandrika Sharma was traveling to Mongolia on MH 370, and his daughter Meghna. Narendran has shared a personal note he wrote to his family and friends with CNN. I reproduce here some excerpts from Narendran’s poignant note – reading it we can gain a meaningful insight to dealing with uncertainty.
Narendran writes:

Chandrika, Meghna, Narendran
Picture Courtesy: CNN.com/K.S.Narendran

“… It only brings to the fore how little we actually know, how vulnerable we are, and the things we take for granted about people, places and things…As individuals, we can do very little. We wait patiently. With every passing day and each fragment of information that comes in, we revise the narrative strung together, and articulate the new set of perplexing and urgent questions that inevitably come up…I remain focused on what we have at hand by way of information, and stay with the knowledge that Chandrika is strong and courageous, that her goodness must count for something, somewhere. I carry firmly the faith that the forces of Life are eternal, immutable and ever present to keep the drama ever moving. In the ultimate analysis, I am neither favored nor deserted. No one is…As family, we are not given to histrionics/theatrics. We suffer, we agonize, we tether on the edge, but seldom allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. I don’t say this with any sense of self-congratulation or offer it as recommendation. I am merely saying this for those who know us from a distance or fleetingly…”

Narendran told Basu that he has drawn strength from his recent experience with Vipassana, an ancient technique of meditation in India. Vipassana means to see things as they really are. The essential message of transience and impermanence has lent perspective, he said. The practice of being in the “present,” however difficult, he said, has helped him manage “the menace of an overworked imagination.”
I can completely relate to every word and sentiment expressed by Narendran. My wife and I go through these feelings every single day. As we have been doing for several years now. What started off as a business situation, a bankruptcy, 10 years ago has morphed into an inconclusive, inscrutable, unfathomable personal drama over the last 20 months. Without work and without cash, we too hang precipitously from the edge. But we have learnt not to suffer and we have learnt to be happy despiteour circumstances. However absurd and irrelevant this may sound in a material sense, this learning has been the greatest wealth that our bankruptcy has unwittingly created for us.  
Living with uncertainty was never easy. And it still is difficult. But I have realized that suffering comes only from not accepting what is. Through our experience, I have understood that the nature of Life is uncertainty. It was always this way. Even when our business flourished and we were able to buy all the things that money could buy, it was uncertain. But I did not see either the beauty or the uncertain nature of Life then. I thought my leadership was causing all our success. So, when the business failed and the money stopped flowing, I suffered. Suffering can cripple and incapacitate you – totally. I suffered for months and years until I understood that while pain in Life is inevitable, suffering is pointless – and optional. I haven’t tried Vipassana – but completely agree with its concept of seeing things as they really are. Mouna, practicing silence periods daily, helped me see what is and taught me to live in the moment. Mounamagically set me free – from the tyranny of the past and the anxiety of the future. I have experienced the value that anchoring within brings to Life. It definitely, to quote Narendran, helps keeps the mind from whipping up “the menace of an overworked imagination”.
In Zen, they emphasize that you to learn the art of remaining untouched. They say that a Zen Master is one who can walk through a stream without the water touching him. It doesn’t mean he will not get wet. But he will remain “untouched” within. Swami Vivekananda (1863~1902) says this so beautifully, so powerfully: “Live in the midst of the battle of Life. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the center. If you have found the center, you cannot be moved.”
From my experience I know this to be true – and possible.