Overcoming Obstacles

21 Oct , 2014  

Ever seen a car crash? Drivers collide at full speed, one car careers off the motorway flipping over three times in the process. Within minutes the road is swarming with police, ambulances and fire engines.  A horrific sight. Life can sometimes change its course in very sudden ways. We’ve all experienced those surreal and dreamlike moments – a car accident, the death of a loved one, a misfortune or some unexpected news. In a few short moments everything changes. Our plans fly out the window and we’re left completely disorientated. What next? As reality sets in, a common natural reaction is anger and frustration.

Once, Mahatma Gandhi and a friend jostled their way into a crowded Indian carriage. As the train departed, Gandhi suddenly looked down and realized he only had one slipper on. He and his friend peered out the doorway and saw the other slipper lying on the platform. Gandhi smiled. He then took off his slipper and hurled it down the platform, where it perfectly met its pair. He offered an explanation to his bemused friend – “Keeping the slipper would have frustrated me, and whoever had found that other slipper would have been similarly annoyed. Now I can forget the incident and move on, and someone else can benefit from some free footwear!” There are two very important lessons to learn here: whenever we face some reversal in life, we have to come to a level of acceptance as soon as possible.

Secondly, we have to move forward with positivity and optimism.

Our Karmic reactions are designed to educate us without permanently damaging us. The soul is ultimately beyond the body and the mind and never becomes scarred by the misfortunes of this world. This is not meant to minimize people’s suffering or point fingers at them, but rather help us approach life’s challenges with a deeper perspective in mind. History is full of stories where seemingly negative events intrude into the life of a sincere devotee. We may conclude that God is heartless and cruel. We might even decide to denounce the theistic path. But if we did so, our premature judgment of the Lord’s character would cheat us out of witnessing how expertly He uses material reverses and difficulties to bring about a glorious conclusion in the life of His faithful servants.

In hard times we can contemplate philosophical wisdom and try to broaden our vision beyond the immediate pain and disappointment. The association of fellow devotees is essential since they can give us a balanced and kind-hearted perspective outside of our own emotional turmoil. With time we will also accumulate a wealth of life experience which can help us find opportunity in every situation. Thus, we can learn the art of stepping forward in even the most difficult of times. As they say, you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails of your life.


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