Life is always in the driver’s seat and we are mere passengers on this journey of our lifetimes.
I saw an interesting promotion for safe and responsible driving at The Park, Kolkata, recently. It read: “Sometimes it’s good to take a back seat.” The idea by the hotel was part of their effort to discourage drunken driving.
But I found a deeply spiritual perspective in that signage’s message.
For the longest time, I believed that I was in the driver’s seat in, and of, my Life. Until the bankruptcy felled us in end-2007. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) In the past decade we have left no stone unturned to fix our business and put it back on track. And each time our efforts have come unstuck. And, at several times between 2007 and 2017, the threads of our Life have been snatched from our hands and thrown away in a mangled heap. It is through experiencing Life’s upheavals and learning to accept what is, surrendering to a Higher Energy and choosing to go with the flow that I have understood that Life is always in the driver’s seat – and we are mere passengers on this journey of our lifetimes.
I have realized that our Life does not happen because of us. It happens through us and, often, inspite of us! It is our desire to control our Life that causes all our suffering. When we awaken to the reality that Life cannot be controlled and that we must only flow with it, that moment, that Eureka moment, is enlightenment.
This does not mean that we must be resigned to our Life. It does not mean that free will is irrelevant in Life’s context. Free will works handsomely but with limitations. In any situation, you have to do what you have to do. Or do what you feel like doing. That act of doing, now, that’s free will. But in almost every context, it is Life that manifests outcomes. When these outcomes match your efforts and expectations, you conclude that you are in control. Yet there are times when despite your best efforts the results don’t add up. That’s when you become frustrated and depressed. So, the best way to avoid all suffering in Life is to do your best in a given situation and leave the rest, the results, to Life.
That’s what taking the back seat in Life means. Life always was and is in control. You just allow yourself to be led by Life. Only then can you be truly anchored and happy.
Complete surrender to Life is not inaction, it is deploying great intelligence!
A young reader told me, in response to my blogpost of yesterday, that the idea of letting go and trusting the process of Life, of living dangerously, in complete surrender, conflicted with free will. He suggested that the very fact that you are endowed with the ability to think is evidence of the need to employ your free will in all circumstances. I don’t believe the young man is wrong with his reasoning or understanding. The truth is, in any situation, you have both the choice and the right to use your discretion, your judgment, to do what you want to do. But the truth also is that not always will your efforts deliver the results that you deserve or you want. So, complete surrender, really does not mean inaction; it does not mean you must not do what you can and must do. It only means that you must leave, surrender, the outcome, the results, to a Higher Energy, to Life, while you choose to remain unfrustrated with the outcomes.
I received an email from a reader of my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal yesterday. He said he had run up a sizeable debt in his business and was ‘suffering with the way Life was treating him’. He has three children and his parents are totally bed-ridden – struck by Parkinson’s and dementia. He wrote: “I do everything diligently. I work hard. I pray. I am dutiful to my parents and family. But my business just isn’t picking up. I don’t know what to do. Day in, day out, I am suffering.” Now, in this reader’s case, his free will is in full deployment – he’s doing everything possible as a business owner, parent, son and spouse to deal with his Life. But he’s suffering only because he expects his ‘righteous’ actions to turn around his business fortunes. To end his suffering, all the man must do is to drop all expectations that his efforts must add up to a reversal of his business fortunes in the timeframe that he is defining; while simply continuing to peg away daily on doing all that he can, he must and he is doing.
Simply, Life does not operate on a ‘Quality Effort = Quality Result’ paradigm. Life does not also operate on a time scale we humans practice. Life has a mind of its own and operates at its own pace. Things happen only when they happen. Period.
Therefore, what we must all understand is that employing free will, righteousness, sincerity, talent, integrity of Purpose, none of these can guarantee us the results we expect. In fact, there are no guarantees in Life. Surrendering to this reality is the only way to journey through Life without suffering. When what you expect doesn’t come your way, despite your best efforts, then don’t think something is wrong with you. It only means that you must learn to surrender your expectations. Internalizing this learning is also about employing free will – where you are recognizing that sometimes the most intelligent thing to do, to be unfrustrated with Life, is to do your best and leave the rest to Life!
PS: If you liked this blogpost, please share it to help spread the learning it carries!