Risky Business

“An easygoing life and attainment of perfection in transcendental realization cannot go together.” (Swami Prabhupada)

Spiritual life is risky business. Throughout history, we see how distinguished saints pushed the comfort zone, embraced uncertainty, and voluntarily accepted highly precarious situations. It spurred their dependence upon the will of providence. I’m not sure whether they began with concrete conviction, but they certainly ended up with it! Token religious faith is commendable, but life becomes dynamically interesting when we experience the mystery and wonder of divine intervention. Selfless sacrifices, exceptional endeavors and the willingness to take a chance are the drivers behind such experience. How can we contact the hand of God if we don’t have the courage to let go and fall back?

It’s easy to gravitate towards the ‘safe options’ in life. Don’t do anything drastic, tread the path of least resistance and keep things sweet and simple. The world has its preconceived notions – what’s acceptable and what’s not – and we just fit right in. The fear of embarrassment, failure and public opinion is too much, and thus plagued by the disease of hesitation we continually confine and limit ourselves. Yet a comfortable life is itself a hazardous disease. With it comes the danger of mechanical, ritualistic, mediocre, and stagnated spirituality. In the name of caution and shyness, we sell ourselves way short.

Beginnings are often marked by a spirit of adventure, risk and discovery, but as time goes by that can degenerate into caution, security and stagnation. This stands for the individual, a group and even entire institutions. I’m meditating on the need to take some bold risks in the spiritual journey. Life on the margin keeps things fresh. I’m not talking about anything whimsical or needless, but risks which are grounded in a sincere desire to better ourselves and simultaneously serve humanity. Such risks will always receive divine back-up and generate internal growth. There is nothing to lose. Even if it doesn’t work out, even if we make fools of ourselves, even if we ‘miss out’ on some temporary benefits… I’m sure we’ll have gained something far more valuable in the process. Only when we risk going too far can we truly discover how far we can go.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

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