I see two kinds of challenges: 1. one those are more or less throughout your life e.g. having a child who is seriously handicapped 2. Occasional or transient challenges of day to life, which we deal with and in the process move in life and maybe grown as well. Probably welcome ones as they help us grow. what is the difference between the two? How to overcome the number-1? Warm Regards Sarbjit
—Sarbjit Sahota, India
The two kinds of challenges that you mention differ only in the degree or magnitude of their impact on our life — and only as perceived by us. A child born blind, for instance, might adapt readily to his handicap and be a very loving, happy and creative child. To this child, blindness is a cause for many daily annoyances, to be sure, and a periodic opportunity for self-pity. But overall if the child accepts and adapts, he overcomes what for someone else would be a disaster.
By contrast, the day-to-day challenges that all people face, though seemingly minor by comparison to lifelong blindness, can trigger depression, anxiety, and nervousness leading to high blood pressure and premature death. For others, such challenges are trigger points for irritation and even outbursts of anger, verbal abuse, or even violence which could also lead to very unfortunate consequences.
How many stories I have learned of parents and their children caring for one, special but handicapped child who becomes a source for an outpouring of love. Have you ever heard of the story of the ugly duckling: ignored and made fun of as a child but who grows into a beautiful swan? That is the story of our spiritual tests, great or small: like the grain of sand in the oyster whose irritation is the seed in the oyster that produces the valuable and beautiful pearl.
In America we have the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That is indeed the nature of our daily and lifelong challenges. If we accept with calm equanimity the duties imposed upon us by life (by our karma) — and seek to fulfill them with attention, excellence and yet with calm detachment, and, especially, as an offering to God — we will grow spiritually. Such a victor is born someday to “take away the sins of the world,” so to speak. We grow to be a giant of soul-power, unconditional love, mercy and wisdom by the simple act of being in this world as a warrior of calmness, wisdom, and energy.
Who, then, is the real Doer in this world? Is it not He who has made it? We need only do our parts with calm joy, faith in His goodness and the rightness of our duties as gifts from the Divine. Like the cliche to “turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse,” we can, like an alchemist, transmute the mud of our challenges into the gold of soul-joy and wisdom.
Blessings and joy to you,