If you can still your stormy mind, you can face any situation in Life – any time!
Of course there’s the obvious lesson that we must all pick up – that we are powerless in front of Nature’s might and fury. But over my morning coffee, as the birds chirped outside my balcony, signifying that they have moved on, embracing a new day at the office for them, I reflected on Cyclone Vardah. And I gleaned a couple of additional, significant, learnings.
It is not often that we get to experience being in the eye of a physical storm. Yes, we have all heard of the adage that it is always calm at the center of a storm, in its eye. But yesterday, Chennai experienced it. Between two bouts of being ravaged by Vardah, the city experienced total calmness for about an hour. Eerie alright. But calm nevertheless. This is what Swami Vivekananda meant when he said these words: “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 Centre. If you have found the Centre, you cannot be moved.” I found his perspective both unputdownable and inspiring when I read it first in 2004. My Life was in utter chaos (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) then, when I set out to find my center through the daily practice of mouna. Even now, a storm endures in our professional and material world, but Vaani and I continue to be calm. This is why we believe that the biggest lesson from Vardah’s crossing of Chennai yesterday is that we can – and we must – find our center. So that no matter what the circumstances be that we are placed in, we remain unmoved. This is the key to inner peace and happiness.
The other lesson I pick up is from a scene I witnessed in my backyard. A tall, huge tree was felled by Vardah as it resisted the storm’s fury. The tree snapped at its trunk. Around our building, and across the city, several trees were uprooted. But the blades of grass everywhere remained intact. Look at the size and might of a tree and the meekness of a blade of grass. Yet the grass survives and the trees fall in a storm? There’s a Life lesson here: when faced with the onslaught of a situation that you cannot comprehend or solve, yield, don’t resist. The grass yielded, so they survived. The trees resisted so, despite their size and strength, they were felled. In Life, therefore, it is important to yield when you don’t know what to do or when you can’t understand what’s going on. Yielding to Life is not abdication, it is not inaction, it is not being irresponsible. It is, in fact, the most sensible action you can take, the more responsible choice you can make, so that you survive, you last another day – so that you can start afresh to solve the problem that confronts you.
All day yesterday, as Vardah impatiently savaged Chennai, I could only think of it as a metaphor for the stormy human mind. We cannot really do anything about the storms that ravage our outer, material world. But if we can learn to still the mind, we can learn the power of equanimity; then we will learn to yield when we don’t know what to do, and we will learn to be happy despite our circumstances!
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