Swami Prabhupada explained how an expert businessman can thrive in any economic climate. When the market booms he sells commodities and makes a healthy profit. When the market is down, he buys abundantly, remaining alert to sell when the demand rebuilds. Either way, lucrative business as usual. In the same way, the ups and downs of life are all opportunities to become spiritually wealthy. In times of peace and prosperity, we have the space to spiritually immerse ourselves, building assets of inspiration, strength and unbreakable faith. When times are rocky, we are jolted to exercise our internal muscles by practicing resilience, humility, patience and tolerance. Both experiences are necessary, and both are incredibly rewarding.
What tends to happen, however, is that in ‘good times’ we become complacent, absent-minded and lackadaisical in our spirituality. Then, when painful situations surface, we feel disorientated, frustrated and bewildered. Interestingly, armies are recommended to be extra attentive in times of peace. In that period, they can build the fortitude to deal with frontline warfare, at which time their instinctive abilities will naturally take over. Any weakness in their training will be immediately exposed.
As I mentally fast-forward a decade or two, I begin to think of the heavy experiences that I’m in for. Disease, old age, death, and the inevitable miseries of worldly life, appear in everyone’s ‘crystal ball.’ We’ll go through it, and if not, those around us for sure. Nobody wants it, but everyone is forced to experience it. Will I be able to deal with adversity in a spiritually progressive way? Peace is not an absence of anxiety, but the presence of God everywhere, at all times. Will I have the depth of consciousness to perceive that presence? It largely hangs on how seriously and sincerely I immerse myself now. I need to build up my spiritual assets.