Wisdom often comes from an unusual source. I recently read an interview with a Hollywood stuntman. When asked what was the most dangerous stunt in his long career, he replied that it was getting hit by a car traveling at thirty miles per hour.
He went on to say that first, you have to be tall enough for your hips to be higher than the hood of the car. Then your body will roll over the car rather than be dragged underneath. The real secret, however, is to relax, to let your body become like a rag doll. If you tense up, you will likely get injured.
Few of us are destined to be struck by a car, but we will all be hit by our karma. When a karmic test comes, it is best to relax and learn from the experience. There can be different ways to face a karmic test. The first is simply to bear what comes, because we can’t change it. This attitude is exemplified by the Serenity Prayer. This beautiful prayer is known and loved by millions, and has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous. It goes,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
At its core, however, this prayer is about how to work with your circumstances, and still functions in the realm of likes and dislikes. If one is too attached to something, he will have a very hard time when faced with a loss. A grief-stricken person often goes through four stages of dealing with loss: first comes denial, then anger, then grief, and, finally, acceptance.
For yogis there is a different approach: dynamic attunement to the will of God. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote this powerful prayer-demand:
Thou art our Father. We are made in Thine image. We are Thy children. We neither ask nor pray as beggars, but demand of Thee, as Thy children, the gifts of wisdom, salvation, health, happiness, and eternal joy. Whether naughty or good, we are still Thy children, all of us. Help us to perceive and understand, inwardly, Thy will for us. Teach us the independent use of our human will (since Thou gavest it to us to use freely), attuned to Thy wisdom-guided will.
We need to practice attuning to God’s will during the little, daily challenges that come to us. Then when a big karmic storm comes, we’ll be ready.
Some years ago, a devotee friend was diagnosed with cancer. He said that at first, there was the shock of hearing the news. But because he had long ago given his life to God, it took only a few minutes to accept the situation with equanimity. When he informed Swami Kriyananda about the condition, Swami said, “Don’t be concerned. This will pass. Master still has a lot to do through you.”
Our goal, then, should be to live in complete attunement with the will of God. Let us have no secondary desire. When praying for yourself or others, pray for the wisdom to see everything as an expression of God’s love and His desire for our freedom. Then, when we are hit by karma, we will roll over the top of it and walk away stronger, wiser, and freer.
In acceptance of the Divine,