Experience the Miracle of Life: Be Surprised
Discourse: Swami Sukhabodananda
Be open to the miracle of life. Life is full of surprises and each surprise is a gift from the unknown. However, we can't relish an unexpected gift as a surprise because we already have preconcieved notions of what we should receive and what we should not. The most surprising thing in life is that very few experience moments of surprise. So life becomes boring.
We take life for granted and we are in different to the mystery of life. The soul of enlightened living is not to be indifferent to the messageof life... Learn to flow with life.
Learn to train your eyes to see the miracle of life. Is it not a miracle to see when the sun rises, the birds start chirping? Is it not a miracle to see that the seed becomes a tree and from the tree seeds are born...and this process continues? In the finite seed infinite possibility is hidden.
Those who don't take life for granted are blessed with a childlike innoncence; they participate in the movement of life with grace and joy. Success and failure become points of celebration rather than points of frustration.
Normally, when you are successful, you want more success and so you lose out on rejoicing. The greed to be more successful makes you look at the other as a threat and a competitor. Instead of learning from failure you whip yourself with self-pity. One has to celebrate one's learning and failure is an opportunity to learn. So celebrate your success; don't fill that moment with greed. Include planning of what actions you should take. Planning is not a part of greed but a part of wise living. Greed is an ulcer to the soul.
When success or failure comes, see the surprise. See the many variables that have contributed to it. Don't lose the quality of being surprised. Don't be dead to surprise. The moment wonderment is dead you are dead. In every moment bring the quality of surprise and embrace each moment with this energy and then you will be able to celebrate success and failure.
Understand that truth wins and not lies. Realize that hurt or upset is self-damaging. See opportunity in difficulty and not difficulty in opportunity. Treat every experience and situation as messages from the divine. Learn to operate from infinite possibilities; be prosperity-conscious, not poverty-conscious.
Ask: "Who am I?" We are observing the world of objects, but are not aware of the subject. Learn to observe the movement of the self. Observe the 'self'. Then you find that the self or the soul is not just the body, or mind but a space, in which the body and mind exist. This inner space has no form but appears to take the form of the body and thoughts. The space in a room appears to be limited by the room but it is the room that exists in space. So too, the body exists in this inner space.
Begin by asking: "Who is in?" This will lead you to a new awareness of your state of being. If your state of being is restless, then make it restful. You are restless and not aware that you are restless. This leads to a bigger problem. Always be aware who is inside you, a calm being or a restless being? Then this discipline will lead you to a bigger question: "Who am I?" You will begin to understand that your ego is blocking the bigger picture of who you are.
This particular 'piece' comes to me at a time when the nebulous nature of life could not make itself any more obviously apparent. Well, there have been times when I've suddenly blinked in the middle of the daily mundaness/mundanity of life. I'm sure this has happened to everyone at some point or another...and it doesn't have to be a most spectacular and significant thing. It can just be, for example, like opening your eyes while you're waiting for the bus or something and realizing that you never noticed how the rays of sunlight penetrated the foliage overhead, and how with each passing bus the birds create a momentary commotion as if to signal another arrival and departure.
But the ability to be surprised is something that I can safely say that I've retained. Of course, and we should never make the mistake of thinking that the only kind of surprise is walking into your house with all the lights off, and finding you in the midst of relatives/friends/colleagues who all burst out with a most enthusiastic "Surprise!!!" I'm going to go one step backwards from what the good swami says, and I'm going to say that there are nasty surprises too. But, and I'm sure he would say this too, good and bad surprises are surprises nonetheless, and it is up to us as individuals to realize that it is the act of being surprised and not the surprise itself which is in question.
Here's another example of a kind of surprise. Well, personally, I'm the kind of guy who has his world in his head, and I'm also the kind of guy who likes to plan/anticipate/reconsider/rethink/... all the time. Often, I'll even go so far as to play out a certain dialogue in my mind between me and a friend/relative/manager/colleague/... with all the emotions and all the words carefully chosen and placed, hours or even days in advance of such an interaction. That's pretty crazy, and I don't care how many people are out there going, "Hey, I do that too!" Trust me man, it's just the most insane thing a person can do. No wait, I guess walking into your school/college/office and opening fire/"bustin' caps" because for months you've let the fact that someone borrowed your stapler and never returned it fester into an everyone-must-die sort of vendetta, is the most insane thing a person can do. But the point is ceaseless anticipation of the events of the 'next' moment in your life is not good for anyone. I know what the good swami said about planning, but believe you me, this goes several steps beyond 'normal' planning. But no matter how much I do this, there are more than enough moments in my life that catch me totally off guard...and it never fails to surprise me that no matter how much time I spend(waste) planning, all it takes is a fraction of a second to bring my world crashing down.
So, and now for a bit of an anecdote, I was at lunch today. I went by myself to a place I used to go to more often a couple of months ago. It's called Kabab House and it's a nice little outdoor joint on Infantry Road with food of a decent quality but of a good amount; value for money. Absorbed in my own thoughts, with only minor disturbances by the guy who was serving me I was as smug as a bug in a restaurant...he he. It was a bit warm, but thank God for mechanical canopies. And then, having sufficiently stuffed myself I paid and proceeded to leave. No sooner had I left the premises this guy came up to me and said, "Sir, I need some help," in Kannada. He was just a 'random' guy who I wouldn't have normally bothered about, but in spite of the fact that I understood him, my immediate reaction was to refuse. And I've made it a point to refuse politely...not that it helps anything, but I feel better having made a sincere effort to say 'no' instead of running off like I was being attacked or something. So, when I said no after looking at him, he persisted...so I just kept moving on. With my next step I heard him shout after me, "It's not about money," in English this time. Nope. I had made up my mind, and I had made up my mind that I wouldn't help this guy. And in all credit to this guy, he even seemed to have some of his bases covered...like identifying the fact that people immediately assumed he was hitting them up for 'dough'. But no. Not this time. And then, as I went along my merry and somewhat stingy way, I began to wonder why I had just done that. There was nothing wrong with the guy. In fact, he was neatly dressed in a half-sleeve shirt and pants, and he was holding a McDonald's plastic bag with something inside it. So why didn't I take a second?
Wasn't I being a little too selfish? I mean, normally, and by that I mean every day, I don't give money to 'beggars', as they are commonly known. No reason not to, it's just that I don't appreciate being taken advantage of, on the one hand, and I don't appreciate the fact that people will put an unbelievable amount of effort into attempting to live off of others as a form of survival. Perhaps it's a 'true' inability, but being totally dependent is also another thing I don't appreciate. I wasn't always like this, but over the years, and as things got more and more difficult for me, like being flat broke, I came to realize that there are truly desperate times when you find yourself faced with the same sort of questions. But I have the ability...except without any sort of opportunity to prove it, or at least display it, I realized that I could find myself in the same situation in no time. And I've thought about whether I'd ever go up to someone and ask them for money...but I've decided this is more a matter of 'pride' or 'ego' and that I never would. Sure, years of planning and one fine day you wake up and find yourself doing the exact opposite of what you claim to have believed in and stuff....wouldn't that be surprising? So, back to this guy, and I realized that as I was 'chowing down' on some delectable Indian-Chinese cuisine (read "Chinese with an MSG overload") that he was in fact standing around and waiting for something. So why didn't he ask anyone else? I mean, I wasn't the only person on the street. The dude was waiting outside a bank and there were several people who were walking in and out right past him. So why me? I don't know, but seeing as to how that was a couple of hours ago, or unless he finds what he was looking for, gets rich and famous, and comes back to point a finger in my face while laughing his ass off, I guess I'll never find out.
Why was this incident particularly surprising? Well, I've helped people with directions and stuff to the best of my ability...if I didn't know the answer I've said so because I've had more than enough bad experiences with people going out of their way to be helpful when they don't have a clue. Maybe it was the way in which I just shut this guy out totally. Or maybe it was because no matter how different I thought I was being by offering a 'polite refusal' I had just reacted like 95% of the people out there. Or maybe it was the fact that despite all that I say about the many many injustices in the world out there, I had just provided myself with an outstanding example of what not to do by going against one of the things I've slowly started to accept...that people should take more time out for each other. So what does it mean, other than the fact that I should either practice what I preach, or shut the hell up? I don't know. I mean, I can't even begin to answer what any of this means, let alone the question "Who is in," so how am I going to hope to answer who I am? I mean, that was one of the reasons behind creating this blog...to find out, hopefully with much support and guidance, who we really are.
"Treat every experience and situation as messages from the divine," said the good swami. So what is the divine trying to tell me with this little example? And what is it trying to tell me with whatever else is going on in my life? I don't know. But I'm willing to listen. Maybe we should take some time out for ourselves before we worry about the world around us, eh? Hmm...
Be surprised all of you...but also be aware. Take care.
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