As I navigated the winding roads of the South West Coast last week, I passed a series of golf courses. I stopped to observe an elderly player heading to the 18th hole. He stepped forward and squatted down to position his shining white golf ball on the perfectly cut lawn. There the ball sat triumphantly upon the tee, in the midst of perfect greenery, bathing in the midday sun, with the cooling aroma of freshly cut grass soothing the air. It was picturesque. Living the dream. Then the golfer stepped up, swung back his 3 wood, and gave the golf ball a mighty whack that sent it careering into the horizon! Welcome to the material world, I thought! Without alarming anyone, be prepared that life has its way of rudely ejecting us from our comforts at any moment. Change is unstoppable (it will definitely happen), uncontrollable (we’re unaware of what will happen) and unpredictable (don’t know when it will happen). How do we navigate the course of life, which is riddled with surprises beyond our control?
Here are three sutras for your daily remembrance:
1) Adjust your expectation – false expectations will bring great frustrations. We’re not designed to control the world, so don’t be surprised when things don’t go to plan. If something can go wrong it will – expect the unexpected. Disempowering? Not really, because the good news is that happiness is not outside of us. Contentment in life is not based on controlling the external world, but rather on conquering the inner world.
2) Accept your situation – every external situation can bring internal growth. Properly digested experiences will nourish us with strength, wisdom, humility and powerful insight. The unexpected occurrences are part of a master plan to reconfigure our consciousness. We only have to learn some acceptance and stop fighting, denying, or cursing a situation. Our gut reaction is to blame others, blame the stars, blame the government or blame God. In the blame game, however, we end up staying the same.
3) Aspire for connection – in the midst of the unpredictability and rollercoaster ride of life, we need a permanent anchor. By rooting ourselves in the spiritual reality, we learn to view life’s occurrences on the backdrop of eternity. Come what may, success or failure, praise or blame, highs or lows, our spiritual status remains unharmed and untouched. This connection is known as “yoga,” a process which reconnects us to home base.
Let the mantra become part of you: adjust your expectation, accept your situation, and aspire for connection.