Difficulty is nature’s act of kindness

By Swami Sukhabodhananda

 Kindness is defined as the ability to be considerate towards one’s enemies. Is nature a kind enemy? A question that haunts people is, ‘Why should there be so much unkindness in life, in the world?’ Is there a hidden purpose or is life a series of accidents? If life is to be seen as a purposeful phenomenon and not as a random sequence of accidents, we have to understand the place and meaning of difficulties in life. The only way to erase unkindness is to be kind. We should not lose this eraser.

How do we erase these difficulties? We need to understand that life is not going to be according to our likes and dislikes. The river is not going to flow according to our wishes. The rise and the ebb of sea waves are not determined by the wishes of those using its waters. The sun is not going to rise or set in accordance with our imagination.

Wisdom lies in choosing to swim or surf when the waves are favourable, working and resting in harmony with the day-night cycle. Creatures of the night prowl, prey and mate in the darkness of the sunless sky when other animals slumber. Nature by itself is neither kind nor cruel. We can look upon difficulties as nature’s acts of kindness. In the face of difficulties, we develop survival skills that otherwise would lie dormant, much as the sweat and fatigue of weight training lead to developing tough muscles. In fact, life would be terribly dull if everything went according to a pre-written script.

Most of the negative feelings we associate with difficulties are of our own making. We perceive a situation as difficult, and thus the situation shows up as difficult.  Nature is a hidden training ground.

There was once a king who had a foolish son. He tried his best to groom him for his future role, but the young prince only went from bad to worse. One day, he fancied himself to be a hen. He sat under a table, and when asked to come out, he said, “I am a hen.” A saint offered to resolve the prince’s identity crisis. He, too, joined the prince under the table. The prince said, “I am a hen. Don’t sit next to me.” The saint replied, “I am also a hen, but those people out there don’t realise that we are hens.” He built a rapport with the prince. Slowly, the saint took his seat at the dining table and made the prince eat, saying they had to prove that hens could do everything that humans could. Thus, step-by-step, the saint brought the prince back to normalcy.

Nature teaches us in similar ways – experiences that appear unwelcome – and cures us of our arrogance and vanity. We ought to recognise the kindness inherent in requiring us to pass through difficulties.

How do we get rid of problems? First, don’t view problems negatively. Look upon them as training grounds in vital skills and enjoy them even as you learn from them. When you face a problem, focus on what can be the solution rather than complaining. Be a part of the solution and not a victim of the problem.

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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