There is a famous saying: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It is true in most cases except when you are really hurt and the damage is beyond repair. There is no charm, no hope, no promise, no light. I get scores of emails where people have been abandoned, betrayed, wronged, sometimes laid off, demoted, deprived, denied and what have you. Some manage to pick themselves up and move on, many are never healed. In majority of such emails, they are looking for answers. They write to me asking what bad karma did they do, where did they go wrong, why did it happen to them? The truth is it is not always about what you did or did not, sometimes, it is just about the other person, their own priorities. You may want to reread Why do People Love You or Hate You.

I am not writing about relationships today, my center of interest is you. Just you. When you are tired of fire-fighting, when life constantly keeps on knocking you down, when your path continues to get blocked, it often means it is a calling. A calling of change. If you resist or ignore change at that moment, the next blow will be more like a knockout punch. At that time, it will not make you strong, instead, it may cause irreversible damage. We do not want you to get hurt beyond restoration. It is better to gain your strength from inner peace than external resistance. You cannot change the economy, the government, your employer, your boss, your industry. It is childish to expect them to treat you with love. It is unrealistic to expect life to always handle you the way you like.

The flight attendant asked a passenger aboard, “Would you like to have dinner?” “What are my choices?” he said. “Yes or no.” She replied instantly.

Sometimes, the only choice you have is a Yes or a No. If you are going to keep waiting for better options, if you continue to oppose, you may miss the most significant and defining moments of your life. There is only so much analysis and thinking you can do. When you reach a stage where further thinking yields nothing more than a headache, when your mind goes numb, when understanding ends, it does not necessarily mean that the conclusion you have is the answer you have been looking for or that there is no answer at all. In the words of Thomas Merton, “It is simply a reminder to stop thinking and start looking. Perhaps there is nothing to figure out after all: perhaps we only need to wake up.”

Ultimately, everything boils down to your response to any situation. Give a thought to how you want to respond, make a choice and put it to action. If your response does not change, the outcome will remain the same too. Act!

William Henley penned down a beautiful poem called Invictus. It has been one of my favorite poems since childhood. As follows:

Out of the night that covers me, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

If you are unable to see light at the end of the tunnel, you may just be walking with your eyes closed. And if you do see light at the end of the tunnel, just make sure it is not an oncoming train.

Chaos, circumstances, obstacles may be external but conflict is always internal. Ponder over this statement for a few minutes and you will know exactly what I mean. When you know how to resolve your internal conflict, external factors bother you less and less. And how to be at peace internally, how to resolve that inner conflict? Well, most of what I have been writing till date is all about that. In short, be mindful of your actions and reactions, work on self-purification and learn to listen to yourself.

Peace.
Swami

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