A crisis is a great opportunity to evolve, to grow stronger, wiser and happier!
“Do we need a crisis to wake us up from our stupor,” asked Sheela, who was in the audience when I delivered my signature Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk at Mamallapuram the other day. Sheela’s taken an Indian name, though she is originally from France. She remain paralyzed for 23 years of her Life. She said only after she let go, stopped complaining about Life and learnt to live with what is that she healed completely. She is now convinced that the only way to live fully is to be happy – working only to take care of your needs and dropping all wants.
She asks an interesting question. I have been often asked that – particularly because my own awakening happened only through our Life-changing crisis, our bankruptcy (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal).
I always ask people back this question: do you wake up on your own in the mornings or do you need an alarm or a wake-up call? Those who are tuned to a bio-clock can wake up sharp at a particular hour every day. Those who are not, need a wake-up call or an alarm. So, it is with awakening to a more intelligent way of living. Those who are appreciative of the transience of Life, who are raised to live purposefully from their childhood, they just keep living that way. But when people run the rat race or when they are trapped in a material, earning a living, bubble, they are the ones who are rudely jolted by Life’s upheavals.
That’s what happened to me. I thought I could go on postponing happiness, so that I could earn enough, save enough and then put up my feet to enjoy my Life. I was being so stupid. But I didn’t realize it. I seriously believed I had a plan. I had married early (when I was 21). So, I often told my friends that at 40, I will retire, after having “stashed away” enough wealth. Only when every single material asset in my Life, right down to the last rupee was taken away, that I awoke. I was 40 then! It was such a gut-wrenching awakening. I suddenly found ourselves as a family hanging from the edge of a precipice. It was scary, it was dangerous, it was a heart-in-the-mouth situation.
But that experience taught me that Life’s shocks are going to arrive whether you are awakened or not. Even if you are awakened you cannot escape your crisis. But being awakened you are far more equipped to deal with it efficiently. For instance, you can deal with a fire in your home if it breaks out during the day, when you are up and about, than in the night, when you are fast asleep.
Having said that, I want to quickly add that I have learnt to love any crisis. I feel I would not have evolved to be happier – despite our circumstances – but for our crisis. We are still hanging there, as a family, at the edge of the precipice. We have been hanging there for almost 10 years. We continue to, as Osho would say, “live dangerously”. It is undoubtedly painful. But it is not scary anymore. When you are happy with your current reality, you are very peaceful within. So, I don’t either despise a crisis or fear it. I have learnt to be grateful when one arrives and to embrace it. I believe a crisis arrives only to make you stronger, wiser and happier through dealing with it! And you can deal with a crisis only when you are awake – not when you are in stupor, asleep or, well, pretending to be sleeping!