Resilient Self

20 09 2007

This is an article by Eknath Eashwaran that I wanted to share since long time and kept in back burner since IMDR days. I remember reading it in Vidyanidhi, a shared folder in our college where all those thought provoking articles are kept. It presents a beautiful perspective on rigidity and on resilience. Do Enjoy!

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A tremendous amount of vital energy is squandered in the vacillation of the mind as it swings towards what it likes and away from what it dislikes. When we are caught up in likes and dislikes, in strong opinions and rigid habits we cannot work at our best and also find ourselves very insecure. At the mercy of external circumstances, if things go our way we are elated, if things do not go our way, we get depressed. It is only the mature person, who is not conditioned by compulsive likes and dislikes, habits and opinions – is really free in life. Such people are truly spontaneous.

Nothing in life is more satisfying than to be able to change our likes and dislikes when we need to. In fact, any one who has mastered this skill has mastered life and if not then they are a victim of life. When someone says “I like it so I’m going to do it” it’s a confession that, that person is not free, they are bound and have no choice. This is our conditioning, we have always been encouraged to only do the things we like doing.

People who have strong likes and dislikes find life very difficult; they are as rigid as if they had only one bone. Such people cannot bend, and if they are compelled to bend they can only break. As the Ganges flows down from the Himalayas, it uproots big trees and carries them down to the plains. A sage noticed this and asked the river “How is it that you tear out these huge trees and yet leave the willow and the reed and the tall grasses that grow by your banks?”

The Ganges replied, “The pine tree does not know how to bend. It stands rigid and won’t move out of my way, so I pull it out by the root and take it with me down to the sea. But these willows and reeds and grasses bend when I come; they do not resist me. I sing through them and leave them intact.” Just like grasses if we learn to bend too, we will find ourselves singing through life.

We can all learn to develop resilience. We can make ourselves like that Japanese doll called the ‘daruma doll’, which has a rounded base and is weighted in such a way that when you push it over, it springs back up. You can hold it down as long as you like but as soon as you take your hand away, it jumps back up again. This is the kind of resilience we can all cultivate. Whenever life tries to knock down people with this kind of precious quality, they are able to spring back; they have lost every trace of rigidity.

We should cultivate this faculty of using every rocky impediment as one more step in the ladder of our success. By sticking to our likes and dislikes, do’s and don’ts, hang-ups, bias, we only embrace rigidity; rigidity is a synonym of death. Let life flow through us with its giggling gush and make us as flexible to nourish with its vitalities, to enrich with its lessons, to sign with gaiety, as the lowly grass on the banks. Let every bit of life fill us with serenity, simplicity and beauty of its own. Let us empty ourselves of our likes and dislikes, so that life can fill us with the heavenly bliss.

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Adding my own two cents.. Ideal is always different from realistic scenarios and almost in all times, hey it would never match. Often many a times when we encounter priorities, expectations, affections and afflictions, it comes back to haunt us creating a multitude of layers of depression, despondency, regret, remorse, distrust and failure. As we tussle with those myriad experiences, that’s when we should stand up and say ‘I deal’, with those ideal dreams of heart and the realistic challenges. Be resilient, open minded and adaptable to the experiences that we encounter over the sands of time.


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