All around the world, countries have stormy seasons. The tropical countries have their monsoons, and non-tropical countries have their yearly winter storms. The layout of the planet, along with its various climates and weather systems, make it such that there is always a storm happening somewhere on Earth. The same phenomenon holds true for people. Life is found to be caught up in storms very often, either in some part of the mind or body. You are not yourself when you are in even a small storm. By their very nature, storms take you away from your centre, and you don’t know what to do. All your practices, concepts, ideas, and ideals fall apart during storms.
Your devotion, your love, all the beautiful things you cherish in your life simply seem to be missing, or meaningless. These things happen when you are under the influence of a big storm. And even when the storm has subsided, the very memory of it disturbs you even more. So what do you do when a storm appears overhead? Nothing appears to be helpful. When you sit and close your eyes to meditate, you see that the mind is all over the place. You feel as though you are in a burning furnace and you don’t know how to put out the flame. It’s like an oil well is burning inside you. The more effort you make to cool it down, put the fire out, the more the fire comes alive, and brings more restlessness and agitation.
Storms are minuscule when compared to the ocean of the Self. In the Ashtavakra Gita, King Janaka says, “Mayya Anantha Mahaambhodau: In the ocean of my Self, many such lives are arising and dissolving.” Janaka knows that all those whom he sees are part of him and that all the lives he sees are just his own form. I have taken so many forms, and in my own consciousness is acting this way in that mind, that way in that mind; in all these different minds different roles are being played, but it’s all me.” One wave arises, and another wave comes back and recedes into the ocean of the Self. By the nature of life, different minds continually springs up into this “person”. You temporarily become all these persons and personalities and life and lifestyles and dramas and soap operas. Imagine watching wrestling on television. Can you feel that both of the wrestlers are inside yourself? If you have ever acted in a drama or in theatre, you may have consciously experienced this. You may perform a monologue in two different acts, and act in completely opposite forms. In the first half you act as one person, and in the second, you act as another person who pushes all the buttons of the first person.
Like waves, these two people clash with each other. It’s in you, in your own nature, in your own form. Different waves arise, different beings arise, different souls arise. They rise, they clash with each other, they play and they dissolve to go back into you. These storms come into your life whether you like it or not. It lashes on you and pulls you out of your likes and dislikes. Every storm that has come into your life has widened your horizon, making you deep and more powerful. Every storm has destroyed some smallness or obstacle in you. The storms that rise in you never stay in you forever.
Every storm is a blessing. It cuts you, it destroys you, and it finishes you off while you cry. If you are knowledgeable, you don’t cry—you will laugh. Even though the event is the same in either case, you now laugh at it because you know that it is insignificant in the face of your true infinite nature. This is the role of knowledge. In knowledge, you smile and laugh at all events, including the most difficult ones. You grow out of the event with the power of knowledge. Even a drowning person can hold onto a straw. It’s like holding onto a life jacket, the knowledge in the storms.
Even the smallest life jacket can save you from drowning. Everybody in the world faces these crises. They manifest as personality clashes, relationship problems, worries about the future and whatnot. People feel insecure, and as the days pass by, they wonder what they’re doing with their life. They wonder whether they’re in the right place or not, or if they have the right people around them. These thoughts bring about all sorts of confusions, jealousies, anger, and hatred. But the person with the life jacket is saved and rises above this storm. He should put on the life jacket, blow it up, and keep it well prepared.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.