“Enjoying Life’s Challenges” ~ Brother Atmananda, excerpts


“Life is but a dream…”

Life is a veil of tears – and sometimes it may seem like on the road of life you just got run over by a truck!  As we follow the spiritual path and strive for right attitude in all that comes into our lives, when we encounter difficulties we come to realize, “Okay, I must try to enjoy it.”  It’s like that philosophy of the old familiar childhood song: “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily; life is but a dream….”


We have to recognize and deal with life’s challenges, but through meditation we can also recognize that life is just a dream.  Life is over in a flash – close your eyes and poof!  It’s gone.  So we need to make that inner connection with God because we will need that inner reassurance at death.  Our perception of time when we are in the body is very different than after we leave the body.  Guruji’s teaching is not about reading books or forming churches; it’s not about dogma, it’s not about rules– it’s about establishing an inner church where we can have direct, personal experience of God.  It’s about knowing yourself, knowing that God is real and that he is right within us.  We have a mind and a body, but we are pure soul.


“The loving hand of God

Joy, peace, wisdom, light, energy, bliss – these are the tangible manifestations of God that we can experience right within ourselves.  By going into the spine in meditation we can feel it.  And we need it – we need these experiences, because life is so wearying, so wearing.  We need to touch, to connect with God.  If we form the meditation habit we will begin to feel stillness in our life.  The little moments count – it’s in the little moments, the little quiet wisps of time that we can connect – this is real intimacy with God.  And you will find that if you are attuned, God is guiding you, talking to you – we will become aware of God in each moment and realize that He is giving us little messages all the time.  To be receptive to that is wonderful, and it is very real.

Why do we have problems and challenges?  One reason is because of the wrong choices we have made in the past, both in this life and previous lives – and this plays out karmically.  Our challenges are shadows of what is wrong.  It’s a mathematical flow of karma.  Those challenges are God ordained.  The good news is that they are rich territory for spiritual growth and understanding if we are attuned.  This is how the soul looks at challenges – for growth.  Through meditation and introspection we can learn to use the latent spiritual powers within us.  When the soul interfaces with material human existence, the purpose is to rouse latent spiritual energy – and the result is joy – freedom from bondage and limitations.  When tests come, take a look and ask, “What is for me to learn from this experience?”  Behind every difficult test is the loving hand of God.  Sometimes God corners us, and He doesn’t let us out until we deal with it.   And then it’s like giving birth – it doesn’t come easy!  We can take God to task about it when we meet Him! (Laughter)   God is saying, “You need this, my child.”  It may seem like a really rough experience – like the end of the world.  But when you look back at what you were forced to do, you will find it was a blessing in disguise.


“It’s okay. I’m alright. Everything is alright.”


Sri Gyanamata had the right attitude when she wrote: “I shall always remember the words of someone to me when I was undergoing the greatest suffering of my life.  He was not a friend, but a complete stranger, who had the impulse to speak to me one day when I was out for a walk.  He said, ‘It had to be. It was all necessary for you.’ And I answered, ‘Yes, I know that what you say is true. I needed it.’  His reply came quickly, and like a blow from the shoulder: ‘Then glorify it!’  That is the point.   Since it is suffering that teaches us the truth and turns us toward God, why do we not thank and praise it for the work it does for us?” (God Alone, pg 81)

Transform and reframe how you are looking at what is happening, and realize:  “Wow, this is here for a reason – thank you God!  What is happening is for a reason; there is a hidden blessing.”  When we can look beyond to the blessings it takes some sting out of the challenges of human life.  Even if you don’t understand, just say, “I don’t understand God, but You do, and I accept it.”  That is maturity – spiritual maturity.  One definition of maturity is to be able to hold two conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time.  And that’s what it is like sometimes, isn’t it?  My life – it’s perfect, it’s a lesson – and, yes, it’s a train wreck.  (Laughter)  In the middle of adversity say, “It’s okay. I’m alright. Everything is alright.”  Our troubles are limited; they are temporary.  Everything is fine.  Say it from a place of depth and understanding. ….


“Nothing can touch you as a child of God”       


Jesus gathered his disciples together at the last supper and he told them, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”  Nothing can touch you as a child of God.  We have a portable paradise within.  Troubles will still come – they may come and slam into you, but they won’t soak into that sacred place, that inner sanctum you’ve created where you and God are.  Then the troubles are seen for what they really are – learning opportunities.  Master said that when troubles come, it is your religious duty imposed upon you by life itself. …

As crazy as your life may be right now, it’s exactly where you need to be.  When tests come, it is often a time of great spiritual growth.  Life is worth nothing if it is not a continuous overcoming of problems.  Look with deeper eyes into challenges.  God is talking to you – understand that!  You may be feeling that you just slammed into a brick wall, but remember the divine reason behind it.  Drop the guilt and shame – just do the work.  Your life is just right – just look at what you are to learn – this is your next step.  Pray to God – ask God for help – “Guide me, show me.”  God does not want us to waste time in this life.  Go inside, find the divine paradise, see the hidden harmony of life.  You will get buffeted around, but when you’ve found the inner harmony you have a way to protect yourself.  This world is a testing ground for souls.  Master said, “This world will always have trouble and turmoil. Go to the shelter of God. That is where the Masters dwell.”

We ended the service by chanting together, “Row, row, row your boat.”

Excerpts from devotee notes


See also

“Do the best you can”; Dealing with fear and anxiety ~ Sister Mridani