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THE NECESSITY TO ACCEPT AND DEAL WITH LIFE LESSONS:

5
Author: 
Karnamrita Das

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[updated with new material and corrections] I am feeling very enlivened this morning having a few realizations which are fine tuning, or refinements, of ideas I have been thinking, speaking, and writing about for a long time. It is as if they unlocked an inner door that touched my heart with more and more practical understanding about my life (the “aha” factor). As always my intention is to share ideas that could be helpful for you as well. Conceptions that we may believe in a general sense are always abstract until they are applied and demonstrated in our own lives.

My basic thought for today's contemplation is that whatever we struggle with in regards to our relationships, family, occupation, state of mind, attitude, or spiritual practice, are feedback that these challenges are not to be ignored. They are life lessons shouting at us: "Pay attention here! You are required to understand why you are experiencing repeated conflicts. Please look within yourself to correct what are actually imbalances in your life, or unhealthy habits." We live in a purposeful universe, and thus every situation and every person in our lives or whom we may encounter are there for a very good reason. Our life is full of teachers who give us good feedback on how we are meant to change and improve.

There are no accidents, and those events, people, or states of mind that we struggle with or want to avoid, sometimes thinking they are the enemy, hold the key to our personal happiness and fulfillment when coupled to our spiritual practices which are designed for bringing out the life of the soul. Spiritual life isn't meant to be an excuse for not learning our life lessons or a method to hide from them, but these lessons, when learned, give a balanced support to our divine journey of awakening.

My visiting friend, Mr. Cancer, is located in the 5th chakra, and between my 5th and 6th chakra. The 5th chakra, located in the throat area revolves around our will power to decide, or have the courage, to follow our guidance about our life purposes and highest potential. When we are off track with our life purposes, we tend to negatively react to situations or people prompting us to wake up or remind us of this purpose with fear or with what is convenient, rather than by the courage and determination to do what we are meant to do.

The 6th chakra revolves around the gifts of the mind, and the wisdom and optimism required for filling our life purposes, both physically and the ultimate spiritual purpose--for Gaudiya Vaishnava's, to make progress in bhakti, or advancing toward prema. There is no true wisdom without the optimism to put it into practice—Prabhupada speaks of this idea in regard to knowledge, jnana, and applied knowledge, vijnana, which is wisdom. If we don’t apply what we know, we are only armchair philosophers.

The Buddha taught that “Wisdom arises out of effort,” and we might say wisdom arises out of bhakti or devotional service. Krishna is teaching everyone through his energies that show up in our life as promptings to take action, for example, to change course to create favorable circumstances for bhakti. We have to choose to see difficulties as opportunities for growth and make the best of them with an optimism that trusts that repeated struggles come to us for a good reason, though it may be beyond our present understanding.

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trail and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." [Helen Keller]

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Thinking about the location of my cancer shows me that I have to take action on teaching what I am inspired and called to speak and write about. I can only teach what I have strong feelings about from experience. That is why it has taken me a lifetime to be where I am today and to have the realizations and passion to teach from my experience. If we “don’t use it (i.e., what we have been given) we lose it.” This is my life lesson from cancer.

While it is true that the ultimate life lesson is that we are souls having a human experience and that our true prospect lies in awakening to our purpose as souls to serve and love God, part of that process is to learn the secondary life lessons that appear in our lives. The fact that we could consider them secondary, doesn’t means they are unimportant. Far from it, as many persons on a spiritual path are waylaid or stuck because of ignoring their life lessons.

Unfortunately, I see devotees using their spiritual aspirations and practices like an excuse to avoid dealing with their life lessons, and this manifests in their feeling of stagnation, or wishful thinking they will somehow be saved at death and by mercy go to the supreme destination. Although anything is possible, this attitude to me is like playing the lottery.

We have to spend years learning the basics or preliminary requirements of education to be able to function in college and earn higher degrees, so we shouldn’t shy away from discovering, accepting, and praying and acting to work through our human life issues. Ideally, we will do both our spiritual practices and also show up to life, and learn to read the signs prompting us to work through our life issues dressed as repeated problems with our minds, health, other people, or feeling of dissatisfaction or depression. This is my personal experience and what I have learned from working with and observing others.
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