Life is a challenge. Without the challenge we couldn’t grow. In fact, everything grows because of challenges. Dig a hole, put a seed inside and simply leave it like that. Do you think the seed will grow? No. You have to give it a challenge. Cover it with some soil; leave it in the dark. The seed says, “Aha! You are covering me up? Watch me come through!” It starts to grow.
You need a challenge in life. Your difficulties help you find solutions. The greater the problem, the more solutions we find. These challenges force us to dig into our own intelligence. We have all the answers there. Necessity is the mother of invention. Don’t try to escape the problems and puzzles of life. Neither should you run here and there looking for challenges. Just stay still. Challenges will come to you one after the other.
If you want more challenges, come to an ashram. Many people move to an ashram thinking of escaping life’s difficulties. However, the same challenge comes in another form there. If they run again, they will encounter the same problems. We cannot run from our own minds.
If you are married to someone and the time comes that you no longer get along so easily, immediately you will think of divorce. You run to another person. Where is the guarantee that this new one is a saint? I often advise people in this situation: “At least you have lived with him for a few years. A known devil is much better then an imagined divinity. At least you know by now that he is not perfect and in what ways he is not perfect. It is better to sit tight and find ways to work it out.”
Never run away. Escapism will never help you grow. Keep working, keep working. Then you will grow beautifully. That is what makes any life a success. When you make a commitment, stick to it. All the great thinkers said that. Face all the challenges and become great.
It is all in your hands. You can raise yourself by yourself. Your own mind can make life’s challenges a heaven or hell. If your own mind is your enemy, you don’t need any other enemy in the world. You will never have a friend anywhere then. If your mind becomes your good friend, you cannot find even a single enemy.
Sense of Adventure
Question: I hear over and over that God is the cause of everything. Then I hear that various things were caused by our own karma. Now if the ills that befall us are due to our own ignorance, then is God the cause of our ignorance? If God is the cause of all, why does he create the ignorance within us?
Sri Gurudev: True. God is the cause for your ignorance. But God gave you intelligence also. Ultimately, God is the cause for everything. God told Adam, “You are happy. You are in my image. You can always stay happy. Just be as you are— simple, carefree, unselfish. You don’t have to look for anything. You don’t have to eat the fruits of your actions.” God gave men the choice, the freedom. We are free to be ignorant or to be intelligent. God created ignorance, but He didn’t want you to be ignorant. He simply created it and left it there. “Pick anything you want. I give you that freedom.” That is His special gift to humanity. Only human beings have that freedom.
When you do certain things, is there not something inside you saying, “That’s not the right thing to do.”? Sometimes you ignore that inner voice and do it anyway. After that act is done, you realize that you shouldn’t have done it. You feel guilty, but it is really all right. That is the way you learn.
Almost all our lessons come by making mistakes. If you don’t make a mistake, you don’t take. After all, what is a mistake? You missed the take. You need to take it again. If you take it right, it won’t be a mis-take. The biggest mistake is to take (rather then give).
So you see even mistakes are good. One of the great preachers for making mistakes is Buckminster Fuller. He always goes out and says, “Friends, don’t hesitate to make mistakes. Why? We learn sooner by making mistakes.” A person who hesitates to make mistakes never learns anything. He is dull, tamasic. It’s better to do something wrong then to do nothing. If you do nothing, you never learn anything. If you begin to do something, and, if it is wrong, you will very soon know it’s wrong. That way you learn to do the right thing. That’s why something is better than nothing.
You may still ask me, “Why should God do all this? Why should He put both before me and give me the freedom to choose? Why should He do that?” I’ve said before that He, sitting quiet, was bored. He wanted to have some kind of adventure. The other parts of creation didn’t give enough fun. So He decided to create human beings and give them the choice. He always has adventure now. He is kept very, very busy nowadays.
Life is like that. Life must be a challenge. Only then is it exciting. Imagine an obstacle race. You must go through obstacles, jump over hurdles, go through barrels, climb over walls. What if you avoid all of them and go around and ask for the winner’s cup? Would they give you the cup? No. They would say, “Oh no. You go back and go through all the obstacles properly.”Then you say, “Why should I do that? If you are interested in giving me the cup, just give it.” “No. You must prove that you deserve it.” So in life we are going about proving it.
Life is a game. It keeps you interested. If life is always smooth, when you have great grandchildren you won’t be able to stretch out your legs, lean back in the chair and talk about it all. When you’ve had adventures, you say, “You know, sweetheart, my gosh, when I was a young child like you, this is what I did.” “Ahh! Grandpa, you did that? Then what happened next?” You see? How they will love the story and you will love telling it if there are adventures to share. If you say, “Well, since my birth I just sat there at home,” the children will get up and go away. They won’t even listen to your story. So have something exciting to tell people later on. You will be very proud and happy.
Recently I asked someone, “How was your trip?” He said, “Oh, everything went smoothly.” That was it, finished. I went away. But if he had said, “The car broke down! We punctured the tire; we broke the crank. We had to stop there,” then I would have sat there to hear the whole story. Life is a joy. It’s fun. We are naturally fun-loving creatures. Don’t become somber and morose in the name of Yoga. Yoga is not a serious, castor oil face. Just be happy. Even if you make a mistake, say, “Look, I did this. Wonderful!” Don’t ever lose your sense of adventure. Yes, we came to enjoy life. It’s all in our hands. Nobody is interested in making you miserable. You make yourself miserable. And you can make yourself happy. Do you understand my point? Good. Be happy!
(by Sri Swami Satchidananda, from the May, 2002 IYTA Newsletter)