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LIVING WITH THE STORMS OF LIFE

Life is often caught up in storms and you are not yourself when you are drowned in a storm. At that moment nothing seems to work; your devotion, love, practices, ideals, everything falls apart. Even when the storms have subsided, their memory disturbs you. You feel as if you are in a burning furnace and you are unable to put out the fire. The more you try to calm yourself, the more restless you become.

You are what you are only in between two storms. So how settled you are is determined by how less frequently storms arise in your life. When the storms arise, the breath becomes heavier, the body becomes unbearable and you are not at all aware of your mind. You are totally thrown off balance.

How to free yourself from the grip of storms? This is the only basic problem in this universe. The first thing is to become aware of it and stop regretting it. Like waves come and go, storms in your life too will subside. No one storm can be there for ever. One storm comes and subsides, another comes and subsides and it goes on. As the storm subside, you experience that inner cool, soft, delicate aspect of yourself. In that space of calm, all the anxiety, fear, feverishness lose their grip on you and you become yourself again. Love dawns. Your mind is like a whirlwind and its subsiding is love.

When you stop resisting the storms of life and start accepting them with open arms, they will subside on their own. That is the purpose of all spiritual practices or sadhana and meditation. When you realise that somebody is really caring for you, you get deep rest and all fears and insecurities drop. When you relax and be yourself, you can put off the fire.

You keep running away from small things -- your feelings, sensations, desires… and this lead to more feverishness. Realise that like the ocean cannot be there without the waves, storms are inevitable in your life. Every storm touches you somewhere and makes you grow bigger. It destroys something small in you and makes you stronger every time. A storm pulls you out of your likes and dislikes and purifies you. So accept all that comes with both arms open. This is crucifixion. If you say you cannot take them, you are resisting and that leads to more storms in your life.

You are much bigger than all the waves and commotions. They all rise within you and they can in no way destroy you. So, let them be. Even when the storms come, you are still in the same ocean, as deep as ever. It’s not that your depth is there only when you are calm.

This realization is the culmination of knowledge. When this knowledge dawns, you rise above events; you grow out of them. Everybody in the world goes through crisis, insecurities, confusions, jealousy, anger, hatred, etc. It’s like drowning in the ocean of life. But the person with the lifejacket can survive even the worst turmoil. So keep your lifejacket of knowledge handy. Realise that an individual can be drowned, but the infinity is indestructible. Being immortal means looking at your infinite nature. That is why the saying, “Die before your death.”

Just observe yourself in a bigger perspective and realise that in the ocean of your life, many waves are rising and dissolving. All the waves that you see are all your own forms. It’s like watching wrestling on television and imagining that both the wrestlers are yourself. In life, you act in many forms, sometimes completely opposite. Every name and form that is given in this ocean is part of the consciousness. People are like floating shells in the ocean of life.

Do not be in a hurry to get rid of the storms, be with them. Looking for perfection creates imperfection inside you. If you are peaceful, everything around you becomes peaceful. You are the centre of this universe. Wherever you go, you carry your own mind, and wherever you go, you will create your own storms. It may appear to be calm and quiet for sometime but a storm will surface sooner or later. Unless you realise this, nothing will hold. There is no other permanent solution. Don’t resist the storms; instead see them as an amazing play of your personality.

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR The writer is an Indian yoga guru, a spiritual leader, founder of The Art of Living

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