Mercury has been in retrograde for at least a week now, and Saturn has been sticking his disruptive fingers into all of my pies. Over the last two weeks, I been beset by constant delays, aberrations, changes of plan, cancellations, obstructions, and complications; and, I’ve no doubt, many of you reading this have been too.
But the serendipity of obstruction and misfortune should not be overlooked. It is very easy to meet frustrations by becoming frustrated; very easy to meet complications by allowing our thought patterns to become complex. What these trying times really demand are patience, fortitude, clarity, acceptance, and farsightedness. If you are able to cling to these five virtues, no matter what, then no disruption will be able to unbalance your stability, no delay will be able to obstruct the free-flow of your spirit.
Delays and obstructions only upset us because we get too attached to our self-created notions of how the future should be. We tend to order our idealized futures very precisely, like a Japanese Zen Rock Garden, with every event, occurrence, and happenstance in its perfect place. So, if something happens that we have not planned, we find it difficult to compute. Our minds struggle to comprehend it, because, logically, it goes against the structuring of our beautiful, perfect plans.
But nature is not structured. Or, at least, not structured in the way we think of structure. Nature moves at its own pace and by its own set of immutable laws. It understands the serendipity of destruction and delay; it knows that every event and occurrence has its part to play in the never-less unfolding of the cosmos.
If a tree grew to its full height in a day, it would likely be lacking in complete strength and stolidity, and tumble down as quickly as it arose.
Plans function in the same way. Very often, we are impatient, and as soon as we visualize a new plan or aim for ourselves, we want it to come into effect immediately. But just how think how dangerous it would be if our intentions worked that quickly!
Imagine you want to be a rock-star. How would you cope with the transition from being an unknown amateur playing empty pubs to performing for millions overnight, and being hounded everywhere you go? Or say it’s your ambition to be great businessman and entrepreneur running a global conglomerate. How you would deal with from being self-employed on a small basis, to suddenly being responsible for thousands of employees, and billions of dollars worth of investments and business transactions? Very likely you would be overwhelmed in a moment, and feel like shitting your pants. Dreams that haven’t been properly prepared for can often seem like nightmares. We need delays and slow developments sometimes so that we can mentally develop the patience, fortitude, and responsibility necessary to bring these long terms goals into fruition. It also gives us time to consider if we truly want the thing we believe we are striving for.
One good example is in a story from the Hare Krishna cannon, told to me by a monk friend of mine.
There was once a young prince who was the scion of a prestigious ruler. But his talents went largely unnoticed by his father, who much rather fancied his brother to be his kingly heir. Upset at being thwarted so, the prince renounced courtly life, and determined that he would one day become the ruler of his kingdom, and that it would be far greater than his brother’s or father’s ever was.
But first, he realized, if he was to be an effective ruler, in control of many people, then he would have to learn how to control his own mind.
So, he gave up his possessions, and disappeared into the forest to spend years meditating and practicing austerities. Eventually, his hardship and effort paid off, and he became enlightened. Krishna was so moved by his devotion, that he appeared to him personally, congratulated him, and gave him a kingdom of his own, even more glorious than that of his father’s.
But the young prince was enlightened now. He had no interest in becoming a ruler. He knew the external world was but an illusion and a fist full of dust. Why would he presume to have the wisdom and power to rule the lives of others?
But Krishna insisted, and he became his own king, imparting the lesson that: only once we have disciplined ourselves, and overcome all selfish ambitions and desires, are we truly in a fit state to live out our dreams.
So do not despair at delay. Accept it, and let it be the weight you lift to improve your strength and fortitude. If you ride it properly, things may turn out far more joyously than your mediocre and silly plans ever could have allowed.
I leave you with these words of Lao Tzu:
The way forward seems to retreat
The level road seems rough
The bright road seems dark