By Suma Varughese February 2005 A spiritual perspective on disasters. In the threshold of the New Year, a disaster of unbelievably savage proportions ribboned into our consciousness. An earthquake that began in Sumatra, billowed into a giant tsunami (a grim addition to our vocabulary) that flattened the coastline of several countries, including India. It caused a staggering number of deaths, dereliction and untold misery. And it left behind a grieving world unable to come to terms with the sheer magnitude of the tragedy. How does one continue life in the wake of such mind-numbing uncertainty? What provokes nature to unleash such an adamantine attack? And why does God watch this whole thing unmoved? It is tempting to give in to despair, doubt and fear. To burrow our heads in our hands and weep. But as seekers and strivers after a New Age, an alternative perspective is available to us, which can enable us to make sense of the whole phenomenon and use it to further propel us along the path of growth, love and harmony. Trust is always available to us. Trust in the infallible rightness of what is; trust in the Higher Power that has created the universe and sustains it. As seekers we tread the path of faith, moment upon moment. With each step we venture into the unknown, leaving behind all certainty, all safe and known avenues. We ongoingly let go of who we are so that we can become what we are meant to be. We strip ourselves of all labels and identities and walk naked and trusting into the future. And we know that that is the only way to be, and that faith is the true security in an essentially insecure world. Besides, those of us who adopt the goal of growth know that each moment is capable of teaching us, and that pain is the sternest but most effective of teachers. It is pain that shakes us awake, that stings us into action, that forces realizations and insights. We cannot reject pain. She must be embraced and we must perforce embrace the lesson she holds in her scarred and horny talon. Above all, we know that what happens is always for the best. All seekers know that the most adverse circumstances yield the most precious of gifts. As we surrender unresistingly to the moment regardless of what it holds, there comes a time when a reward will shyly alight upon our hearts or minds and set us ablaze. The tsunami is an unmixed blessing and that is the way we must see it. It has called upon us, a grim and foreboding visitor, but as good hosts, we must bid it welcome and quietly receive what it has for us. What could these be? Perhaps greater awareness of our unbalanced way of life, so heedless of the environment and the fragility of the eco-system. Perhaps we are called upon individually to evaluate our lives and tailor them along more holistic and less materialistic lines. Perhaps a greater awareness of the passage of the old age and the advent of the new. All civilizations tell us that the movement to the New Age will be accompanied with much destruction and death. Could this tsunami be but a precursor of things? The thing has to be faced. We are living in perilous times. Kali Yug is upon us and we have work to do. It is necessary for all of us to do what we can to raise human consciousness. At the same time, we should beware of being in too much of a hurry; in proselytizing and forcing people into changing belief systems. Those who are meant to get it will. The rest will not. And that’s okay too, even if the ‘rest’ include those you dearly love. A serene stance is called for. An acceptance that all is well even in the midst of overwhelming suffering. The tsunami is, above all, a rousing call to unity and fellowship. It asks us all to reach out, shed the callouses of indifference and habit and do what we can to help the millions whose lives have been splintered into shards. We are all one, and the suffering that we see is our own. The spiritual perspective refuses to allow us to look away. We must be engaged. In doing so we find meaning in suffering and thus transmute it.
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