By Anahita Sanjana
No matter what calamity confronts us, the universe will contrive to make it happen for our ultimate good, says Anahita Sanjana
What are the chances of a seed surviving and blooming into a flower when pitted against the formidable opponents to its bloom – toxic chemicals, soil pollution, soil erosion, and all the other environmental hazards? Perhaps very few….and yet bloom it does!
“His laughter of beauty breaks out in green trees,
His moments of beauty triumph in a flower,
The blue sea’s chant, the rivulet’s wandering voice,
Are murmurs falling from the Eternal’s harp?”
– Savitri by Sri Aurobindo
The unseen hand
I remember a fabric painting class I had once attended wherein a similar truth was brought home to me. I had decided to paint a pink heart on a pale yellow T-shirt. In my acolyte enthusiasm, I wet the fabric with too much water until the heart I painted took the form of a maroon pink blotch that looked like nothing on earth! My teacher, Bhavna, came to the rescue by etching the outline of a peepal leaf around the red blotch. The blotch fitted into the outline so perfectly that it seemed to have conspired from the start to transcend my will and become this leaf! Outcome: a creation far more beautiful than the clichéd heart I had intended to paint. This simple occurrence held a life lesson for me and reinforced in me Sri Aurobindo’s words:
“This too the supreme Diplomat can use
He makes our fall a means for greater rise.”
I saw in Bhavna’s hand the intelligence of this diplomat at work once again, reassuring me not to fear going wrong or making mistakes, for He would always set it right.
“If we fail in our immediate aim, it is because He has intended it; often our failure or ill result is the right road to a truer issue than immediate and complete success. If we stumble it is to learn in the end the secret of a more perfect walk.” – Sri Aurobindo
What happens when we actually stumble, when life appears to take a detour into what we call misfortunes?
Drop the burden
Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharishi used to tell his devotees the story of the wise and foolish travellers. He used to say that there are two types of people in this world. There is the foolish traveller who is carrying a heavy backpack and is afraid to release it onto the floor of the train he is travelling in, and so aches with its burden. Then there is the wise traveller who enters the train, drops his backpack down and enjoys the ride, realising the futility of holding on since life (the train) is anyway carrying both himself and his burdens!
Every time life throws a challenge, the foolish traveller will burden himself with the responsibility of solving it and get frustrated because he cannot, at least not immediately. The wise traveller, on the other hand, will surrender the difficulty to Grace and trust in its workings. The wise traveller is by no means an idler. He will do all he can to change the changeables in the situation. It is the unchangeables that he will leave to Grace.
In his inner attitude he will patiently wait for the hidden good that is being paved for by the apparent ‘bad’, to show itself.
“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be far-sighted enough to trust the end result of a process. It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so short-sighted as to not see the outcome. Lovers of God never run out of patience for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.” – Elif Shafak
A beautiful metaphor was taught to me by my Vedanta teacher in one of his discourses. There is a magnificent ten-thousand storey tall giant who is all-knowing and all-compassionate. With his height he has a view of the whole city of which a girl, Anjali, is a citizen. If this giant stood in front of Anjali, she would see only a part of his big toe because of the play of dimensions. To her, this stupendous giant would just be an unassuming skin-coloured wall! If anyone tried to tell Anjali that this wall was actually a great giant, she would never believe it! To take the metaphor further, suppose this giant with his vision sees an earthquake approaching Anjali, and out of compassion picks her up and moves her to a safe place. With her limited human vision Anjali is neither aware of the approaching earthquake nor of the existence of the giant. She would perhaps curse the hand that pulled her away from her loved ones into a strange and unfamiliar land. She may even call this displacement a calamity. Yet is it?
This giant is a personification of an intelligence that pervades everything, that manoeuvres everything towards a secret good.
“Whether it seem good or evil to a man’s eyes,
Only for good the secret will can work.”
Is there anything then in the universe which with certainty can be called evil or dark?
My yoga teacher once told me that before the discovery of the Hubble telescope there was a spot in outer space, so dark that it was believed to be bereft of any luminous heavenly bodies. That same space viewed through the powerful Hubble telescope revealed itself to be teeming with many bright extra-terrestrial bodies! So what appeared dark was actually pregnant with light! Could we then say that darkness does not exist, that it is simply a limitation of our senses?
“Our sense by its incapacity has invented darkness. In truth there is nothing but light, only it is a power of light either above or below our poor human vision’s limited range.” –Sri Aurobindo
The solution that is invisible to our seeing is already in the purview of intelligence infinitely greater than our thinking minds, the intelligence of the eternal train of life that carries each of us where we need to go. The train that constantly invites its travellers to drop their burdens onto her capable floor, sit back and enjoy the ride.
“Rejoice and fear not for the waves that swell,
The storms that thunder, winds that sweep;
Always our Captain holds the rudder well,
He does not sleep.”
– Sri Aurobindo
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