eNCOUNTERing triaLS AND TESTS
Minor setbacks are easy to overcome — we all undergo them, whether daily, weekly, monthly. A major crisis is probably much harder to deal with.
Let us here consider and review the type of mindset we have when we are encountering trials—from minor to major, and everything in-between. Do we review things from the point of view of cause and effect (or karma), where positive causes would yield positive results and vice versa, or are we instead becoming increasingly doubtful and blaming things outside of ourself?
Even when faced with adversity, the noble (magnanimous) would not compromise their principles, because they know that adversity, success, and failure are beyond oneself, that is, they are matters of fate.
But a petty (small-minded) person would protest; the petty suffer adversity and become indiscriminate. Someone who has no self-control over their emotions and desires, they live lives of self-interest and seeking personal gratification. Their personal value system only evaluates things based upon worldly success, failure, advantage or disadvantage. If they encounter adversity, their only concern is escaping it by any means whatsoever.
Having dignified repose, Zen, or Dhyana, is a state of mind where one can stay unmoved under all conditions, meaning that one would be undisturbed in times of hardship.
You wouldn’t say that you are undergoing trials (whether if one considers them by fate or by chance) if you were able to remain constant regardless of outside circumstances, accepting whatever life may bring and responding accordingly.
Do bear the following in mind: Recognize the Truth clearly; grasp the golden-thread (the pure heart), firmly and strive for progress through the guidance of this Truth.
Remember to brighten your Bright Virtue (Inner Being) for “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.
Understand these words through your personal experience — it is up to each one to savor oneself (to realize through personal experience), and to correct and purify oneself earnestly.
Most people can only admire the composure of the Saints without being able to personally experience it; we must not only admire but live and move through our own direct human experience!
If we want to emulate the astounding resolve of the Saints and Sages, then we too must endure countless trials and tribulations while remaining steadfast and resolute—also referred to as “inner transformation.” But it is hard to reach this through abiding with situations only and having no transformation within. Abiding adversity and misunderstandings alone isn’t enough; the anger that lurks within hasn’t been transformed, and it will explode when one has reached the limit of their tolerance. But if someone can use different ways to diminish this and develop inner transformation, then they are able to remain serene and uplift their mentality from forcefully abiding (feeling restricted) to mindfully abiding (exercising one’s free will) and going further still to ultimately reaching the level of mercifully abiding, which is completely devoid of anger and resentment (non-duality).
This conflict (internal struggle) must be resolved in order to advance one’s understanding. In reviewing the lives of the Saints and Sages, learn from their examples and know that they too had to endure times of adversity and despair. So, when we are undergoing our own trials, we too can successfully persevere.
“To realize the Truth clearly; retain the heart settled.” As one endeavors in their cultivation, know that the heart is wild and not so easily tamed—it must be consistently disciplined and led toward Truth if one wants to have clarity and advancement, or Zen.
Those who are born knowing, those who know through learning, and the hard-pressed who learn, all have vastly different starting points, but after they reach understanding, their realization is identical.
A NEW CONCEPT OF THE UNIVERSE
Meditation and seeing and hearing of things within oneself, trance, samadhi, leaving the body and going out to travel in higher and finer worlds, are all to the oriental mind quite normal ideas. The actual accomplishment of such things has generally been left to such as are specially qualified. The Masters, however, tell us that the Way is open for any man to do these things if he will train himself for them. To the West this entire subject is still more or less bizarre, abnormal and fanciful. Such things are often attributed to some mental peculiarity or to some pathological state of brain and nervous system.
Kipling may have been right when he said:
"East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet."
But it will be a fortunate day for both East and West when each shall impart to the other the vast wealth that is in them both; when the West shall give to the East its magnificent scientific spirit and method, its marvelous achievements in manufacturing, in commerce and industry, and above all, its splendid and masterful forward movement in all things that make for material betterment. It will be an equally happy day for mankind when the materialistic West shall imbibe from the East its scientific method of mental and spiritual demonstration. The psychology of the Orient is just as much needed in the West as the science of the West is needed in the Orient. Today the West only thinks it has a psychology. It doesn't even think it has a science of the soul. But the point we wish to emphasize here is the importance of the oriental view in regard to spirit and mind. The very idea of "going inside" of oneself and there seeing and hearing things called occult or experiencing a state of super-consciousness, resulting in a super-refinement of mind and soul, are all difficult to the western thought. This is because the whole thing is new to the West. It has never been a daily routine among us as it has been in the Orient. Long before the days of Herodotus or even of Manu, the subject was familiar to every child in the East. Among us such notions, even today, are limited to men and women who are generally called impractical dreamers or visionaries.
It is also a fact of history, though almost universally ignored that all religions in all ages have had their own methods of silent meditation and of going inside and developing inner experiences. And they have all achieved something along these lines. Out of those experiences the various religions themselves have sprung up. Devotees of every religion in the world have, to some extent, tapped the fountains of the inner life. This is true in Christian history as well as in all other religions. It is only the Saints of the East who have kept alive this knowledge and transmitted it as a pure science. However, isolated experiences are to be met with here and there among the devotees of all religions. But they are more or less sporadic and uncertain, both as to method and results. They had no system of teaching every one how to do it. Mankind, in the great mass, have almost forgotten that they have a soul or, more accurately speaking, are souls. Let us never assume that civilization itself is the cause of the diminution of such experiences. It is rather a terrible loss which civilization has imposed upon itself through ignorance and self-indulgence. Civilization is suffering from over-emphasis upon material values. But when a civilization arises which understands both material and spiritual values and shall combine the two and carry them forward side by side, a real civilization will be born to supersede the present.
(excerpt drawn from THE PATH OF THE MASTERS by Julian Johnson)