Obstacles and Relationships
by JAREK CZECHOWICZ
Your most important destination in life is to attain your own inner peace. And you are as close to that goal as the number of detours and obstacles on your path. You can overcome your obstacles by struggling with them, or by seeing them through fresh eyes, and a shift of attention.
Take your focus away from the idea of obstacles and place it onto the idea of relationships. It seems like a great leap but its really a small step. Look at the very essence of the matter. Your sense of self is only possible in relation to something other than yourself. The question is whether you can have a peaceful relationship with that thing, or person, or situation, or whatever arises.
A very experienced yoga teacher, who has her own successful school, was on her way to satsang accompanied by a friend. A short way into the forty minute drive, and not far from home, her car broke down. Her friend thought they would have to wait until roadside assistance arrived, but the teacher knew where she was going. She left the car behind and they arrived at satsang on time.
You must know where youre going to get there. Once you know your destination you might discover many ways of arriving. You can find various maps, ask for directions or get someone who knows the way to take you there. Your goal is always attainable, even with many detours.
The lesson is both practical and spiritual. No matter what you set out to do, sooner or later, you will notice a number of opposing forces that seem to prevent you from arriving at your destination as smoothly as you would like. For example, you want to cook dinner but the pantry is empty and you have to go shopping. You have a special diet and the shop is out of the ingredients you need. You return home and remember that you forgot to send an urgent email, but your computer freezes. Youre hungry but now youre too tired to eat. If only everyone's obstacles were so simple.
These opposing forces are present even when we think things are going smoothly. To get up and go for a walk you have to oppose the force of gravity, or lethargy, thats keeping you seated. Obstacles are part of the inherent structure of creation. Once you know this you cannot be surprised or upset by set backs, failures and detours. Successful people work hard because they understand, at some level, the nature of set backs. Obstacles appear at every level of activity, and most people keep getting upset by them, including successful people. In light of the fact that this is happening to everyone why not acknowledge it is a universal pattern and laugh next time you notice it.
If your motivation to overcome obstacles is powered by fear and anger then you will experience unnecessary suffering. You will keep being upset when things seem to go wrong, and you will be less successful than you could be. If your motivation is powered by love and compassion then your experience of the very same things will change. And you will better understand why doing the right thing in the right way does not necessarily guarantee the desired outcome.
You don't have to abandon material goals but your relationship to them can be different. You can be so focused on obstacles that you overlook the many things that are going right for you. You can forget to be grateful. The moment you stop, and take time to count your blessings, you will feel a sense of inner peace arising.
Ultimately it is not about whether or not you reach your material goals; it is about your relationship with whatever arises in this moment. When that relationship embodies inner peace then subsequent moments become easier.
Look at your relationship with a person you like. Its easy because its pleasant. Now, what about someone who has lied to you or hurt you? Can you find inner peace in this relationship even as you interact with them? What about when youre running late for an important appointment and you find your car keys are locked in your car. Can you have a peaceful relationship with that situation?
If you cannot find your inner peace when things seem to go wrong then youre caught in a trap. But its a trap that releases you once you see how it works. Then it snares you again the moment you forget.
Meditation is being at peace with whatever comes and whatever goes. It is the art of letting go. When you can bring clear attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions, then you are practicing mindfulness. When you can bring awareness to your relationship with whatever happens in the course of your day then you are practicing an active meditation.
What you now consider to be an obstacle might in time prove to be a blessing, and it will more likely be a blessing if your relationship with it is one of inner peace.