Let go the Struggle
The defining quality of a Home State is the ability to let go of the struggle.
Once, a king held a painting competition, and two portraits made it to the final round. The first painting depicted a serene countryside with a beautiful sunrise, where a bird chirped cheerfully on a branch of a banyan tree. The painting evoked a sense of tranquility in the viewers’ hearts. The second painting showed a cyclone – trees were blown away by powerful winds, and rivers flooded their banks. As thunderstorms hit the fields, a crow sat peacefully and noiselessly on a branch, drenched in the incessant showers.
To everyone’s surprise, the king declared the second painting as the winner of the contest. When asked to explain his decision, he said that the second painting presented a more accurate representation of reality. Life is tough, and we are constantly amidst one crisis or another. The restful crow teaches us to find peace within, even as the world outside of us crumbles and resurrects. The unwavering connection to a reality beyond this world is the space of surrender, even as persistent cyclones attack our inner world. Thus, the second painting better captures the essence of a Home State – the ability to find peace and surrender to a reality beyond ourselves, even amidst the most challenging situations.
As we age, some people tend to become more irritable and angry, unable to let go of things that bother them. Others may tolerate situations externally, but internally they seethe with pain. However, there are a few who thrive in the space of surrender, welcoming change and embracing new situations with gratitude.
I once met an eighty-five-year-old relative who sat peacefully while his family organized a day-long prayer festivity for his good health and happiness. As different family members and friends showered love and sought his blessings, he was the epitome of grace. When I asked him how he was feeling that day, he calmly replied, “I feel grateful. I agreed to participate in this prayer program because this is how I can express my gratitude to the good Lord above for all that He has blessed me with over the last eighty-five years.” He then recounted all his blessings and I was deeply inspired because I had known him personally for over four decades and had seen that his life hadn’t been entirely smooth; yet he chose to live in the present with gratitude. He had surrendered to what was happening in his life.
During the annual pilgrimage of our community to Vrindavan, I had the good fortune of interviewing Usha Mataji, a ninety-four-year-old woman who had the exuberance of a young girl. She was the first to rush to the classes and happily participated in kirtans and visits to holy temples. While many younger members showed fatigue, she was the first to reach the venue for any event. I complimented Usha Mataji on her cheerful and unassuming nature, and she smiled graciously. I then asked her if she had experienced many ups and downs in her life, to which she replied instantly, “What can be more painful for a mother than seeing her own children die before her own eyes? I have lost three of my children to old age, but I have accepted the pain and moved on with gratitude.”
To be continued…