The Tree of Knowledge
The Art of Living
Look at the pose in which Krishna stands. He has one foot on the ground, and the other crosses over the first, just about touching the ground. This is called the tribhangi pose — one foot is firmly on the ground, the other appears to be touching the ground, but it is not actually doing so; it is elsewhere. This implies: use only that much of your mind and energy in the world as is required for your worldly affairs to go on, and not more. The perfect balance is to put one foot 100 percent on the ground, and the other foot just barely touching the ground with most of it in the air. This is the way to live life — the “Art of Living” way. Master TS Vijayaraghavan of the Charitable Centre for Natural Healing and Meditation reminds us that the Art of Living is a way to empowered life. It is an art that will transform an adversity to an advantage. Often, there is something that makes you distressed and compels you to resist and react. Unfortunately, what you resist will persist, and you will end up facing the same problem over and over again. Learn the ART: Acceptance, Responsibility and Tolerance. When you master the ART, you will find long-term solutions to the challenges of life and also discover the hidden blessings, even in adverse circumstances.
Acceptance: “Amazing grace comes from a gentle acceptance of life simply the way it is.”
Acceptance is the ability to ‘see things as they are’. Cultivate the habit to accept things that you cannot change. Moreover, no matter what the situation is, it always offers opportunities for learning and growth. Even the most painful event contains the seed of greater purpose within itself and brings benefit to all as the ‘time’ comes.
Once, King Akbar and his Minister Birbal went for hunting. Birbal was known for his wisdom and sharp wit. During hunting, unfortunately the King’s finger was cut. The King was in great distress and pain. Instead of giving solace to the King, Birbal said, “Mighty King! Everything happens for good.” Hearing this, the king was enraged. He was in great agony but the minister was happy that his finger got cut. He ordered his soldiers to put the minister in jail. After this, it so happened that the king was caught by a nomadic tribe who took him for sacrifice to their deity. Just before the sacrifice, the priest checked the king for completeness of the body and found that one finger was cut. Since an incomplete body cannot be offered as sacrifice, the nomads let the king go free.
Released from the jaws of death, the king returned to the palace and hurriedly summoned the minister. He expressed his regret over his unkind act of having him put behind bars.
Then the king asked Birbal: “It is true that my finger was cut for a good reason. But how did it serve you good for being imprisoned?” Birbal smiled and replied: “O Mighty King. Had you not imprisoned me, I would have been with you. Since my body was complete, I would have got sacrificed in your place!”
No matter how big the challenges are, there is always a greater purpose to all that happens.
Responsibility: “When you point a finger at others, three fingers point at you.” — The Bible
You are responsible for all that you experience, for it is YOU who had set the ‘cause’ for the ‘effect’ that you have to face now. As long as you blame others, you will not find solutions to any of your problems. The Master was counseling a student who was in the process of a divorce. He felt humiliated that his wife had made false allegations against him and dragged him to court for one reason or another. He was quite distressed that his children were kept away from him.
Indeed, this is very painful, but you have to look at the ‘whole picture’. If you had inflicted much pain to someone in the past and did not balance this negative Karma, you have to pay for it now. You have to pay your karmic debts anyway and the current crisis is just a means to settle it. Situations are ‘created’ to simply balance your karma. Often, people who make you suffer most are the ones who are close to you. They are not entirely responsible for what they do to you. They are obliged to settle what you had given to others in the past. So, even if they act unreasonably, they are quite reasonable in some way.
Do not point your fingers at others. Instead, do Thumbs-up mudra or hand position and silently affirm: I am responsible for this. I shall make it. This is a powerful way to remind yourself of the lessons you need to learn and the ‘debts’ you have to pay. Initially it may be difficult but with practice, you will have greater control over your life. Maintain your inner peace but take appropriate action as the situation demands. If need be, you may take legal support. Follow spirituality at the soul level but practicality at the physical level. The key is: ‘act, but do not react’. Work on your karma and heal the past wounds. When you heal the past, the present will improve by itself.
Tolerance: “Lord, forgive them. For they know not what they do.” — Jesus Christ
Tolerance stems from a deep compassion. It gives one the ability to accept people as they are, without judgment or criticism and brings long-term solutions to many problems of life. Some people keep repeating mistakes and inflict much pain on others. The Masters call them young souls. They cannot behave like an old soul who has travelled a long ‘Journey’. You will have to deal with them patiently, the way you would handle infants and nurture them like saplings until their ‘roots’ are strong. Help young souls to grow. As they grow, you also grow. This is the essence of life.
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on the occasion of his birthday on 13 May, has wished that “many more and more people in the world have this fortune to say that ‘I want nothing and I am here for you’… It does not mean imposing upon yourself that you want nothing when you actually need something. ‘I want nothing’ comes from a state of fulfillment and not of denial. Fulfillment comes through spiritual knowledge. When you focus on the highest, you see that your needs are taken care of before they arise. The consumerism, which is eating society today, can only be checked by inner fulfillment, by quenching that inner quest for the human kind, being, the self, spiritual energy or the inner joy. You can call it whatever… The very core of humanity is love. That is what the ‘Art of Living’ is all about. More and more people in world should gain this ability to say ‘I want nothing and I am here for you.’
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Source: Excerpts from ‘The Secrets of Karma: Journey to the Hidden Side of Life’, by TS Vijayaraghavan