Acceptance of your current reality is different from resigning to your fate.
Yesterday was full of upheavals. A couple of key business opportunities we were hoping would come our way fell through owing to challenges that prospective clients were facing. We are not new to such last-minute setbacks in business. For over a decade now, this has been the pattern we have seen in our business plan and with our cashflow; where we try to fix the economic engine of our business only to find that it will sputter and stop one more time. It can be very draining, having to pick up the threads of your Life and trying to wind them up – only to discover that they have been plucked away from you and discarded mercilessly in a hopeless tangle.
Obviously frustration and worry will follow in such a situation. But acceptance of what is and trusting the process of Life helps immensely.
So, when I began to sense the stress building up within me, I suggested to Vaani that we go out for a walk. During the walk, I did what I have learnt to do very well over the years – I played witness to my own Life. Systematically, we reviewed the impact these upheavals will have on our Life and concluded dispassionately that, yet again, we are now on the brink. With this clarity, interestingly, the frustration, the worry, dissolved as soon as it had arisen. There was a great inner peace as we sat down for dinner. And I slept very well.
People imagine that those on the spiritual path are immune to challenges of everyday Life. This isn’t true. As long as you live, you will be flooded with thoughts – all the time. And debilitating emotions arise in everyone – anger, grief, guilt, worry, anxiety, frustration, depression, insecurity, fear, the works! But the spiritually inclined know that these emotions are like waves. They will rise and ebb away. So, they don’t cling on to these emotions, to these thoughts. That’s really what I did with Vaani last evening – I refused to walk down the depressive spiral with frustration and worry.
Today is Swami Sathya Sai Baba’s birthday. I haven’t met him personally. But Vaani and I have experienced him through a medium, a messenger, a young man in Nungambakkam (in Chennai). It is through intensive and personal coaching from Baba, through his medium, that I learnt the art of mindfulness, of trusting the process of Life. Once, some years ago, we were on the edge of a similar precipice – as we find ourselves now, struggling for cash and work! We went to Baba’s messenger and told him: “We don’t even have money for groceries and telephone bills. Ask Swami what we must we do when even basics get affected?” Pat came Swami’s reply, through the messenger, “Isn’t faith basic?” That day we learnt this unputdownable lesson that trusting the process of Life is integral to intelligent living. Through all our years of experiencing Swami, we have not been asked to chant any mantra or do any bhajan or perform any pooja. We have not even been asked to pray. We have only been, repeatedly, reminded to live in the moment, accepting what is, even when we are working on changing our current reality.
The way I learnt to trust the process of Life, through experiencing Swami Sathya Sai Baba, may sound incredible. But this is how it happened to me. They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. In my case, the teacher came through this young man, a medium for Swami.
Now, when dealing with debilitating thoughts, you have to be aware, mindful, all the time. If you drop your awareness, they will creep up quickly and take you hostage! Anger, frustration, self-doubt, self-pity and depression – all these are by-products of an expectation that if you are hard-working, sincere and ethical, nothing should go wrong with your plans or that every effort of yours should yield the result or outcome that you truly deserve and expect. There’s nothing wrong with this logical expectation. In reality though, Life doesn’t conform to any logic. Fortune or tragedy, success or failure, opportunity or rejection – none of these choose those that they strike! They simply happen. And because Life itself happens over time, each of us, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, whether we believe it or not, is a product of the time we are going through. So, you can be the most talented, most respected person in your chosen field and you can be out of work. You can appear to be the fittest person around but you could be having a grave health challenge. You can be the most understanding, caring and compassionate spouse, and yet your partner could be in another relationship. Simply, there’s no point getting angry with the Life you have. Because your anger or depression can’t change your reality.
This doesn’t mean that you should resign to your fate. Acceptance is different from resignation. In resignation, there’s a certain frustration and depression that is simmering within. In acceptance, there’s peace and equanimity. In acceptance, there’s an opportunity for further action. In resignation, your frustration will numb you and hold you hostage. It will keep pushing you down a negative spiral. When you accept your current reality, you will realize that the best thing to do when things are not working out as planned, is to simply make your daily efforts and choose not to get frustrated and depressed when the results don’t come as expected.
This is a simple, real world, practical point of view. It comes from experience and from knowing that when you don’t get what you want, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It simply means it is not time yet for you to get what you want!
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