How do we thrive and prosper through adversity?
Resilient people seem to have one thing in common: an unconditional reverence and respect for existence, for Life, for Reality. This reverence and respect for Reality persists despite Reality’s sometimes seemingly cruel, evil, and unjust brutalities. Reverence and respect make up a spiritual commitment to the sacredness of existence and our humble place in the large scheme of things.
Reverence and respect for Reality are unconditional; they don’t depend on whether things are going well or not. They don’t vary whether we are in pain or not. Reverence and respect for existence generate a peace beyond understanding. This peace helps us endure adversity.
Reverence and respect for Life springs from the capacity to sense the miracle of existence—the sacredness of our existence. With that as our anchor, the trials and tribulations we suffer become secondary. They may knock us about, but we remain tethered to the truth that this moment is and always will be precious and sacred.
This knowing is rooted in mindfulness. With practice—and it does take practice—we learn to step back from our obsessive ruminations about the worries and traumas of our lives. We disengage ourselves from our immersion in thoughts about our life situation and awaken to the reality of our life in this one eternal moment. We see that our life is very different from our life situation. If we become fully present to this moment, we see that there is no problem in this moment, despite the most difficult of circumstances. Our life is distinct from our life circumstances.
If we can just mindfully savor this moment, a blend of positive appreciation and acceptance arises. Breathing in, we know that we are alive. Breathing out, we say “Thank you.” Mindfulness cultivates gratitude. We become aware of the many blessings of the Now: the miraculous capacity to experience existence, to exercise our senses, to love others, and to be loved. When we look into the Now, we see the abundance that has been afforded us, even in the darkest and most painful of times. With gratitude and acceptance we can act with intelligence and love to improve our circumstances as best we can.
Sensing the sacredness of existence, we may also intuit a loving life force at play in the mist of our difficulties. Where there is evil, there is also love. Where there is destruction, there is also healing. Many find solace in their faith that all is as it should be. Rather than asking, “Why is this happening to me,” they ask, “Why is this happening for me?” This worldview recognizes a loving life force that supports and sustains us even in the midst of evil, destruction, pain, and loss.
When we are spiritually intelligent, we are able to act with compassion and wisdom, with inner and outer peace, even under difficult circumstances. This is an important capacity to cultivate. We have compassion for our own suffering as well as for the suffering of others, even our enemies. We have wisdom to act in ways that lighten the darkness and lessen the pain for everyone. We have peace in knowing that this moment is sacred and exactly as it should and can only be. We have faith in the unseen, loving, intelligent Life force that flows through everything.
Adversity has lessons to teach. Ask what your adversity can teach you.
If someone is trying to destroy you, perhaps they are teaching you how to protect yourself in a sometimes brutal world while maintaining your unconditional reverence for all of existence, including for your enemy. Perhaps they are teaching you how to love unconditionally—even those who want to cause you harm.
If someone leaves you, the potential lessons are many. Perhaps there is a lesson on how to hold relationships reverently but lightly. Perhaps there is a lesson on how to love more effectively, or to cause less harm. Perhaps there is a need to revive your wholeness apart from your relationship. Perhaps there is a need to learn how to invest yourself wisely in committed relationships with those who have the capacity for loving mutuality.
If someone you love dies, there is an opportunity to learn to grieve and be at peace at the same time. Perhaps your loss will deepen your reverence for those you love. Perhaps the blow of impermanence will sharpen your sense of the sacredness of this fleeting life.
If you lose your fortune, perhaps you are blessed with the opportunity to find true happiness and fulfillment, freed from the need for the addictive material comforts and security that promise so much but give so little.
Whatever your adversity, see it as your teacher, for it forces you to go deep within yourself. It invites you to cherish this moment of existence without conditions. This is a spiritual touchstone of love from which all other life principles spring.
Let adversity teach you acceptance of, reverence for, and respect for this moment, so that you might act with love and peace in your heart to enhance the next.
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Image from: http://lessonsonleadership.org/learning-from-adversity-one-obstacle-at-a-time/.