By Suma Varughese March 2011 When Life is the Guru, There is no Distinction Between Spirituality and Life. Suma Varughese is Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive.Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org People often ask me if I have a guru and considering that I edit a spiritual magazine and come in touch with scores of such luminaries, they are quite surprised to find that I don’t. But in fact, I do have a guru, and that guru is life. For the student of life, the spiritual practice is living. Spiritual insights and truths are meant to be applied in our relationships with ourselves and others and in the way we respond to circumstances and situations. When life is the guru, there is no distinction between spirituality and how we live. Spirituality becomes the focal point with which one views life. Such an approach forces us to confront the many contradictions within our thinking and strive to fuse them. Can you love animals and yet eat meat? Should you be using plastic if you care for the environment? How does the mall culture equate with your holistic perspective? This does not mean that one immediately shifts one’s actions. Not all of us are capable of that, though Mahatma Gandhi, bless his soul, was. The moment his mind had grasped an idea, he shifted his whole life to be in accordance with it. The rest of us erring humanity must be content with increasing our levels of acceptance and awareness until the time comes when we are able to fuse our value system with our actions and motivations. Even more fundamentally, the student of life sees every circumstance as an opportunity for growth. This includes recalcitrant maids, illnesses (in self and others), relationship issues, office situations, money crises, and so on. From the smallest to the biggest situation, life does not allow me to overlook a single one. I am meant to learn whatever I can and through the ongoing struggle between resistance and acceptance, take baby steps towards transcendence. This means all villains disappear. Even though I sometimes actively long to find someone to blame, eventually I have to come down to the sobering realisation that I alone am responsible. As that saying goes: “We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.” When a relationship suddenly goes wrong, how tempting it is to blame the other. Unfortunately, the student of life never gets to use that alibi. Something within us has triggered this and responsibility must be owned and corrective steps taken.Above all, this understanding makes you realise how perfectly each circumstance in your life has been placed to guide your greater growth. And that nothing is ever an accident. Here are the insights my teacher has offered with her tough training: Good lies hidden like a jewel in the bosom of bad. Accepting the circumstances releases it. One cannot sidestep situations. One must go through them. If we sidestep them, we are condemned to repeat them. The spiritual supercedes the material. It is more important to work through the karma of any situation than it is to get to the opportunities that it blocks.
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