Life's Struggle (prose)
“Life’s perfection-road is very long, but the journey is richly rewarding.”- Sri Chinmoy.
Let’s face it; even for the very best of us, the search for inner peace is not a bed of roses. There are many trials on the way, as well as the fruits of past experiences, yet to play out themselves in this earthly drama. So we struggle on, as we should. On the way, or while on this sojourn, we as wayfarers become beset by many burdens.
“Be kind’, says the great visionary, Sri Chinmoy. ‘Be all sympathy, for each and every human being is forced to fight against himself.” How remarkably true is this statement!
We struggle in employment with personality and work issues; we struggle during our daily movements whether we do shopping or visiting, or simply going on leisure walks. We struggle at home with children, life, social and financial issues and numerous other tasks. We also struggle with health, and sometimes it becomes necessary to summon an indomitable will, through His grace, in order to get from A to B.
The word ‘Struggle,’ is used here in a positive sense, in so far as life is really progress and upward movement. Whether we go all the way back to the Wright brothers and their struggle to build an aircraft, or Fleming’s relentless search for a way to kill bacteria, we must aspire in order to grow and not be left behind.
Struggle represents effort, exertion, dynamism as well as vision and dreams. It is indeed one of the key elements that not only encourages but ensures our survival. Sometimes in the act of struggle, we experience adversity or sadness, but cosmic law dictates that this is unavoidable from time to time. Indeed, adversity helps us on this journey.
In the grand scheme of things, we cannot exist without the law of polarity or duality. We consequently cannot have pleasure without pain or joy without sorrow. Without the mountains there will be no valleys, and without the shadows there will be no perception of Light. We measure evil by the quality of good there is, and as sure as we will encounter the summer at some point, so too will the winter be lurking in the shadows, awaiting the dance of nature, in order to show its face.
So as we move towards knowledge, we will encounter ignorance. Even with our joys, happiness and good times, we will also experience the other end of the spectrum: sorrow and suffering. Knowing all this helps us to grow inwardly, creates an orderly symmetry, and will inevitably bring with it the philosophy of acceptance. The potter takes the wet and sloppy clay, accepts it, and works with it lovingly, until it becomes a beautiful vase. The key to ultimate beauty here is acquiescence or acknowledgement, for without this, how will the beautiful vase be produced?
The same philosophy applies in the inner life. We know either consciously or unconsciously, that we should be walking towards the light and away from darkness; that true wisdom lies in accepting that which makes us strong, and avoiding that which causes pain. Still, the journey will necessarily bring trials or strife, and on the way we will inevitably meet with challenges that are difficult to bear. The wayfarer along the Path strives to accept life’s burdens, while at the same time being conscious of the needs of others. He recognises that it is only by love and service that he himself can actually grow.
“Wherever you go, carry happiness with you”- Sri Chinmoy.
This is a lovely but also a necessary idea. We know, through experience, that whatever we do, we should do with love and concern, for whatever good that others may do for us, it is fitting that we offer our selflessness in return. Indeed, wise ones say return even the evil thoughts and deeds with kindness, as long as we can feel deep within our being that it is the right thing to do. Therein lies the path to happiness.
However, it is a golden rule that if we do not have, we cannot give, and as such we need to be strong or able. Where does this ultimate strength comes from? There are quite a few beautiful articles here on prayer and meditation; or on the wonderful and invigorating walks in nature in some of the most replenishing spots on earth. Still, we need to pause from time to time in the hustle and bustle of this beautiful thing called life, to reflect, to rest, to question and to pray.
Until we get better or become accustomed to this, Nature’s silence can best help us in the stillness of the night or the quiet hours of the morn. We need this badly to rejuvenate ourselves in order to be wholesome; to spread and radiate loving kindness to all sentient life.
The call from God, whoever or whatever we consider Him to be, is to come unto Him, and to take His yoke, especially if we are weary and in need of rest. He assures us that His yoke is easy and His burden light. He appears to be saying:
‘You know what, I acknowledge that it is quite tricky where you are, and things can be a bit rough, so let me carry you sometimes.’
He then sends us more than enough compassion, if only we are receptive to receive same. It is our responsibility then to reach out to Him, to acknowledge our weaknesses, our struggles, and to bend like the yielding tree, to seek his help. The river flows and will ultimately reach the ocean, but sometimes it pauses to deposit the dead wood and debris, that it acquires on the way. So too is human life.
We are all children of the Light, and as such our nature is endowed with beauty. If we are made in the image of the Supreme, then it cannot be otherwise. Still, our first instinct is survival, something which invariably makes us self-centred, and causes us to function in the region of the mind, of ‘I’ and ‘me.’ Let us strive to acknowledge our fellow travellers along the way, recognising that they too, have their story, and that all are heading towards a common cause: A happiness goal.
May we all be cautious and wary of the impediments along the Path, while striving to love one another, exhibiting courage, faith, resilience and a one-pointed devotion to a Higher Cause. Then we can say joyfully with the Psalmist:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. Thy rod and Thy staff shall comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall guide me along this ‘razors edge’, and eventually, by His mercy, I shall overcome, forever. (Paraphrased from the Psalms of David in the biblical scriptures.)
Finally, here are two meaningful poems to assist us on this struggle:
“It is an exceptional privilege,
To have the beauty of a serene mind,
The purity of a loving heart,
And the divinity of a humble life.” – Sri Chinmoy.
The rocks were thorny and my heart bled in despair.
I am trying.
I stumble, because the obstacles
Are almost insurmountable.
I will continue to try.
For my goal is progress,
Not success or failure, or even victory and defeat.” – Manatita 19th June, 2013.