How do seabirds survive the impact of a violent hurricane? Recently a friend sent me an interesting article about this. The birds use a simple technique: they fly in the same direction as the winds, which spiral inward toward the center of the hurricane. In this way, they are drawn into the calm eye of the storm where the winds are relatively still, and can wait it out until the hurricane finally dissipates.

There’s a lot we can learn from these wise little birds. At some point in our life (usually more than once), each of us is beset by the winds of karmic storms. We have the choice of several ways to react:

1. We can be in denial and live in the fantasyland of “This isn’t really happening.” If we take this course, we end up getting battered anyway, and are unable to protect ourselves until it’s too late. We may never learn the lessons that this karmic test was meant to teach us.

2. We can blame others for our misfortune, and adopt the attitude “This is all other people’s fault.” Our thinking then moves along these lines: “I was doing just fine, and if they hadn’t acted wrongly, none of this would have happened.” We lose the opportunity to learn what our part was in creating the difficult karma, and the storm lasts longer than it might have.

3. We can begin wallowing in self-pity: “Why is this happening to me?” Can you imagine a seabird flying in the thick of a storm thinking, “Why me?” If we keep things in perspective, we begin to realize that our suffering is a mere droplet in the vast sea of human life. It’s better to rise to the occasion and think, “I myself created the karma that’s bringing me this suffering. By my right action now, I can destroy its power over me.”

4. Another option is resistance: “I will fly against these winds no matter what.” While the use of will power is certainly important in overcoming obstacles, it’s also necessary to use discrimination, gauge the strength of our opponent, and know when it’s time to take another tack. Sister Gyanamata, Paramhansa Yogananda’s most advanced woman disciple, told of a time when she knew that an unavoidable karmic test was coming to her. She prayed for guidance, and the prayer that immediately came into her mind was: “Change no circumstance of my life. Change me.” She didn’t resist the test, but asked to see what within herself drew it, and to change that pattern.

5. Finally, we can follow the example of the seabirds in the hurricane. We can use will power to fly with the buffeting winds, not against them, so that we are brought to rest in the calm eye of the storm. With this approach, we think: “I will use a power greater than my own to overcome this test.”

In Swami Kriyananda’s Festival of Light ceremony, he wrote a beautiful allegory about a little bird flying through a storm, symbolizing the soul’s journey to freedom:

“When afternoon came, it [the little bird] entered a storm cloud, and soon found itself struggling for its life. Wind and rain lashed at its wings. The more it fought back, the weaker it became.

“ ‘Give yourself into my hands!’ cried the wind. ‘To your strength I can then add my own.’ At last, the little bird heeded this counsel. Then, suddenly, it found itself soaring joyously, high above the clouds.”

The bird asked where he could find the source of this great strength to conquer fear and weakness. And all nature answered: “Seek it in the farthest depths of Being, in your own Self.”

So how do we find this inner source of strength, this calm center in the midst of life’s storm? Meditation helps us to experience the peace of our inner Self. Humility and self-offering are attitudes that show us how to transcend the limitations and pride of the ego. Faith in the power of God allows us to release the thought that it is by our own strength alone that we will prevail.

In Master’s beautiful poem, “God! God! God!” we find these words:

When boisterous storms of trials shriek,
And when worries howl at me,
I will drown their noises, loudly chanting:
God! God! God!

The calm at the eye of life’s storm is God. Our job is to go within and find Him.

Your friend on the journey,

Nayaswami Devi

Subscribe to the Touch of Light podcast. Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:54):

22 Comments

  1. Dear Devi, Thank you so much for the beautiful words you wrote.
    I understood very well now the bird’s story now in the ceremony of light
    ?? I will be like the little bird in the storm in the night?
    With love ?bhajana

  2. Thank you! Beautiful way you tied in little birds in the hurricane to the Festival. Through all trials I sing thy name, joy in thee is life’s soul aim!

  3. dear Devi,
    thank you! Your words come to me, during one of those karmic tests ….
    thanks so much
    with Love Stefania

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

    We are all little birds, flying through lifetimes, weathering the storms and growing wiser with each passing test. As I walk near a small creek where I live, scores of black birds hang out in the trees, all chirping and talking to each other, sharing their day. I’ll sit on a bench by the path, and closing my eyes, let their chorus of voices lift me up and I imagine taking flight with my brothers and sisters, free, the chains of gravity left on the ground behind us. Soar high dear ones, and remember we already have wings.

  5. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for this inspiring blog. How beautiful it’s is to learn from the Nature as Swamiji calls out in one of his saying in LWLW.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

    In Master’s Love
    Prem

  6. What a beautiful reminder, Devi. The past 3 months I have taken on caring for my 96 year old mother while working full-time, and it has been tremendously challenging. But in the past two weeks, I’ve surrendered to Divine Mother’s guidance every morning before my day begins and I am able to find my own calm within the storm. I remind myself that every challenge is a gift, an opportunity to accept divine guidance and surrender to the lesson. Thank you for your thoughtful words of encouragement.

  7. Dearest Devi Ji – so beautifully written about life’s lessons and how to deal with them. Inspiring Uplifting and Joyful reading the blog. Love love love :)

  8. Namaste Deviji,

    Thank you so much. Beautiful example, how naturally intuitive these seabirds are!

    The calm at the eye of life’s storm is God.
    Lord, change not my circumstances, change me!

    Such profound principles ever to live with.

    Love and Joy
    ilango

  9. Namaste Devi ji
    These words of wisdom couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. They have given me strength and reaffirm my resolve to move on my path and surrender to God’s will.
    Joy to everyone.

  10. Dearest Devi,
    As a member of two 12 step programs, I love how Ananda’s teachings enhance snd correlate with what I am learning about myself.
    Aum, Aum,Aum,
    Linda Hagen

  11. Dear Devi ji,

    I am deeply grateful to you for those beautiful words of wisdom from Master and Swamiji. Indeed,in times of test, how we react makes all the difference.

    Grateful!

    Vijaya

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