“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourself strong.”
--Swami Vivekananda (Indian Hindu Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, 1863-1902)
A lot of people tell me that they are pleased to see the back of 2006, and we certainly had more than our fair share of challenges during the year, having lost four members of our family in just a few months. The fact that they were not all human didn’t change the impact one bit.
But for all the people who have told me about their negative thoughts about the year I’ve said the same thing: the year has actually been a terrific learning experience. That’s not to say that we should slap a big smiley face on every pain, hardship and adversity, but it does mean that it is essential for all of us to try and find the meaning in the events that have happened in our lives.
When Nietzsche said “That which does not kill me makes me stronger,” he was giving voice to a peculiarly Germanic ideal of the time: that people need to be tested and tempered like steel. That’s not what I mean at all.
The three best and most effective ways of dealing with adversity are first to extract meaning from the event or situation: “Why is this happening?” “Is it just dumb bad luck or is there more to it?”
The second essential is to learn to detach from an event, so that it no longer has its emotional claws in you.
And the third is to accept a situation. Not in some passive way of letting life bowl you over, but of being able to acknowledge an experience and then using it as the basis for wise action.
Each of these can take a lifetime to learn the hard way, but you can actually master them very quickly with a series of simple steps.
I am going to be sharing some of them with you in the coming months. I am also going to be publishing an eBook on the topic of resilience, because detachment and acceptance come much more easily to the person with robust resilience.
Having recently had to make a number of unexpected trips overseas has delayed our publication schedule by three months, but we shall be back on track by the end of January.
And here's a final thought for you from Healing, Meaning and Purpose: adversity is an invitation to grow. If approached in the right way, apparently negative events can lead to a shift in your consciousness and rapid spiritual development.
In fact the majority of my own teachers could trace their spiritual maturation to major life events that at the time seemed to be the end of the world.
Remember that what the caterpillar thinks to be the end of the world, is, for the butterfly, just a new beginning!
“Trials, temptations, disappointments -- all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of character but strengthen it. Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”
James Buckham (American Naturalist and Writer)
“The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons.”
--Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (German Philosopher, 1844-1900)
“Out of confusion, you invent something permanent - the Absolute, the Brahman or God.”
--Jiddu Krishnamurti (Indian Spiritual Teacher, 1895-1986)