“There are no obstacles; there are only opportunities!”
There were a lot of opportunities today.
I don’t mean that as we sometimes do, using “opportunities” as a euphemism for “problems”; or at least I don’t mean only that. Today was one of the most hectic days I’ve had in a long time, but also one of the best.
My area of service at Ananda Village is in websites — my wife and I help produce Ananda.org — and right now I tend towards working on the programming side of things. If something strange happens, I get to fix it — which is good, because as likely as not, I am the one who caused it in the first place!
I used to serve in tech support at our IT department here, which was frequently more hair-raising. I remember when our entire network, around 50 people, couldn’t work because of a virus that was running amuck. It happened on Good Friday, a special, holy day.
When I was calm that day, I felt a grace surrounding the hubbub. A peace. Inner silence, devotion… and gratitude. There was a lesson.
Over time, the people running the network have learned so much that this sort of thing doesn’t happen any more. And over the years our web team, too, has learned not only fire control but fire prevention. The big explosions don’t happen so often, which is good, because it feels like I’m getting more work done.
But little fires still crop up from time to time, sometimes at what seems like the worst moment. Like today.
When It Rains, It Pours
We pay a company to keep Ananda.org online, but over time the website has been inaccessible more and more, up to a few minutes a day. This is a lot, considering that we have a new visitor every 40 seconds. Having the website offline is like keeping the door locked during office hours.
A member of our team has been working on migrating the site (that’s what we call it) to a new company, and I’ve just started helping. We’re trying to make the move tomorrow, so I wanted to spend today preparing.
It’s a project where a lot of things can go wrong, and in a big way — better to be ready, right?
But when I opened my email I saw that two other Ananda websites were completely offline. A friend asked: Could I help?
So I was working on these two projects, and discovering I didn’t know how to solve them, when we found out that the new donation page for Swami Kriyananda’s Moksha Mandir was blocking certain gifts.
After a couple of phone calls, that was fixed — but almost as soon as it was, Ananda.org went off-line for a full half-hour.
And the day went on like this, chaos layered on confusion — sometimes inexplicable, sometimes annoying, and always busy.
And yet… it was a gift.
It Was an Opportunity
Around 2:00 pm I realized, “This is more than I can handle.” So I took a little time to pray to my guru — to make a little spiritual phone call. “Yogananda,” I thought, “Please help me figure this out. I am here to serve you.”
Was it his grace? His guidance? In the afternoon, though few problems had been solved, I was able to have the attitude, “I can’t control what happens, but I can control my reaction.” It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this so clearly. I’ve been meditating more, and maybe that also has something to do with it. Perhaps it helped attract the events of the day, which gave me opportunities to learn.
Each problem (or obstacle… or opportunity!) has a birth and death. We outlast them all, but we retain what they help us to become.
There’s no point in feeling sorry for myself. For all I know it was like this for everyone today at our office. Sometimes tests come in waves like that and everyone gets wet. We grow together.
I know that what I go through is minor. It’s not the test of walking 2,663 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail facing cancer — amazing, beautiful and inspiring. It’s nothing. It’s just what helps me grow.
It’s how I become stronger in the ability to let it all go, not out of laziness, but in service to a higher purpose. How can I focus on God and complain about my problems at the same time? I see now that it isn’t possible.
The power to let go comes also from meditation, from the practice of Hong-Sau. Every time I ask my thoughts to return to the breath, it trains my little monkey mind, telling it, “The problems aren’t so important; watch the breath. Remember who you really are.”
Yogananda said famously, “An easy life is not a victorious life.” An easy life may not be a joyful life, for ease creates ennui. It takes energy to be in bliss amidst the trials of life.
Today was the most confusing, strangest, most hectic day in recent memory. But it was also the most wonderful.