When we are resilient, we have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We are strengthened with the mental and spiritual toughness needed to snap back quickly when life ultimately throws us obstacles. Here are some steps to help develop a virtue of resilience and strengthen your spiritual practice.
STEP 1) To develop sincere resilience, we need to realize what the purpose of our lives is really about.
We are not here to win some kind of game called life such as building the greatest of careers or to raise children that go to the best schools. Nor are we here to gain significant material wealth, fame or develop an impressive social status. Those things may or may not be nice if they happen, but understand they are not what God is trying to teach us and they are not the TRUE purpose of our lives. The purpose of our lives is to learn who we really are and to become aware of our souls and return it to perfect love or God.
As Rumi says in The Masnavi, “Man is a captive on earth. His body and his mind are his prison bars. And the soul is unconsciously craving to experience once again the freedom that originally belonged to it.”
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Wow Fran, that’s sounds real nice but give me a break! I understand how difficult this may sound, but let me ask you some questions:
- Why else would we be here?
- Wouldn’t it make sense that we need to learn how to return to love?
- Isn’t love the exact place that we came from?
It is a great struggle and battle to return the soul to its rightful place. St John of the Cross referred to this as the “dark night of the soul”. This is the path all souls are traveling towards. I experienced this dark night as a 21-year-old struggling to overcome a teenage alcohol problem.
[Please understand, my use of the words God and soul are just words or vibrations coming out of my mouth that I am using to describe something far beyond the human mind.Please try not to judge the words. As a spiritual seeker and lover of Jesus Christ, I have come to also love the Hindus and Krishna as well as all of their sages, the Tao, the Buddha, as well as the mystical Sufi’s from the Muslim tradition. Perfect love and the Father Jesus referred to, also known as the “Absolute” is beyond words and religion. This points to the paradoxical power of surrendering the Ego’s personal identity. Indeed, the great Tao of Lao Tzu, Jesus’s Salvation, Buddha’s Nirvana, and Krishna’s Self-Realization cannot truly be understood by the Ego mind nor described by mere words. It is reserved for the private chambers of the human soul just beyond the mind and only found in a state of surrendered silence.]
“Sought is the Seeker Himself” -St. Francis Of Assisi
- You can reach it if you go beyond the mind with a knowingness of faith.
- If you can have this model when things are difficult and remember that everything is for the purpose of teaching us how to find God.
- With this purpose in your life, you will find it much easier to bounce back from adversity.
“There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life. There is a gem in the mountain of your body, seek that mine. O traveler, if you are in search of That Don’t look outside, look inside yourself and seek that.” – Rumi
STEP 2) Know who or what you really are. Ask Yourself…Who am I? What am I?
Jesus’s words, “the kingdom of heaven is within you,” is a hint of what you really are.
According to St Francis of Assisi: “What is being sought is the seeker himself.”
The divine is playing a game of hide and seek. We are drops of the Divine consciousness experiencing itself as all forms sentient and insentient.
How could this be? In the words of the great Hindu saint Nisargadatta Maharaj, “When the impersonal consciousness personalized itself by identification with the sentient object, thinking of it as ‘I’, the effect was to transform the ‘I’, which was essentially the subject, into an object. It is this objectivizing of pure subjectivity, this false identifying of the unlimited with the limited, which can be called bondage. It is from this entity-identification that freedom is sought.”
We have confused the I of God for the I of the ego. Within the silent stillness of your own consciousness you will find what is being sought
“Know the Truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
These words of Jesus are not referring to some foreign concept of faith. They are referring to the truth of what you are beyond your titles, accomplishments, sorrows, personal story, name, body, mind, or any other form.
The message? We are nothing we perceive outside of ourselves—our wealth, material possessions, status, etc. You are Spirit itself. Thou art that.
3) Re-shape mental models and create new alternative realities for your self.
The Old Sufi Tale is a great reminder for me that nothing is ‘good news’ or ‘bad news’ per se, but that it always comes down to one’s own perceptions:
Old Sufi Tale about the Poor Farmer
The story goes that one day the farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbors hear of his bad news and come over to express their sympathy “I hear that you lost your horse. That is bad news and bad luck.”
But the poor farmer just responds: “Good news, bad news, who knows”.
Well, the next day the farmer’s horse returns to his stable, but it has brought along a drove of 30 wild stallion horses it has made friends with and they all come into the farmer’s possession. The neighbor across the field can’t believe what he hears about his friend. He decides to come over and celebrate with him.
“This is such goodness,” he says. But the old farmer just calmly responds, “Good news, bad news, who knows” .
The next day the farmer’s son decided to ride one of the new wild stalions, to break it in. As luck would have it, the son was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. Of course, upon hearing this sad news, their neighbor came over to offer condolences. “This is such bad thing,” he said. “Your son has broken his leg. This is sad news.”
“Good news, bad news who knows,” said the farmer”
On the following day soldiers came by commandeering and army. They took sons from most of the surrounding farms, but because the farmer’s son had a broken leg, he could not go and was spared. When the neighbors came over talk about it all the farmer could say is “good news, bad news, who knows”
If we change our mental models of what we perceive as good or bad, we will be more resilient when things appear bad. This story is a powerful reminder of the reality that we really don’t know what’s always best for us. In my own life, my greatest adversity at the age of 21 of having to accept a life without drinking alcohol in retrospect has turned into the greatest thing that ever happened to me. When it was first thrust upon me, it seemed like the worst day of my life. I thought I would never be happy again.
Remember the Old Sufi Farmer’s Story to help you resist allowing the mind to judge what something means. If you can change your mental models and create alternative realities to counter what appears as bad news, you will quickly snap back from adversity and enjoy the virtue of massive resilience.
Go in Peace!