Recession. Economic crisis. The air is abuzz with these words, from the concerned whispers of colleagues and friends, to the speculation and predictions of the media. Who will sink? Who will swim? How bad is it? How long will it last? Although it came as a shock, the current economic crisis serves as a reminder of the oldest, most pervasive and predictable aspect of life itself: change. The only thing that is certain, is change. In our society, our attitude toward change is often of sticking our heads in the sand. We try to pretend that it doesn't exist. We become rigid, seeking the illusory permanence of routine to make us feel safe, to feel in control. Many of us spend our lives dedicated to creating a stable environment; a solid career, a dependable spouse. But even the longest marriages can end in divorce, the largest fortunes in the world can dwindle down to nothing.
Striving to achieve material gain and trustworthy relationships is a wonderful thing, yet if we place our own sense of security in these things, we are setting ourselves up for a fall, we are building our house on a fragile foundation. However much we try to ignore it, we are not in control of the shifting sands of the world, and we never will be. In order to find true stability, we must first come to terms with the unstable nature of the things we rely on. When we become aware of the impossibility of external permanence, we can begin to cultivate the only thing that can give true security: inner peace.
There was once a king who announced a great competition, to paint the perfect picture of peace. The winner would be awarded a prestigious title as well as land and unimaginable riches. Everyone in the kingdom started to paint! Even people who had never painted before, in the hope of winning the prize. After many months of consideration, the king brought the selection down to two paintings, which were displayed in the palace for all to see.
The first painting was of a pristine lake, stretching serenely across the canvas, its expansive surface reflecting the snow capped mountains behind with perfect clarity. All those who gazed upon the painting gasped in awe; surely it had to be the winner.
The second painting was quite confusing. It depicted a similar lake in the throws of a great storm, wind thrashing through the trees, the lake's surface a choppy, swirling chaos. Where was the peace in this painting? Everyone agreed, the first painting was perfect; how could this one possibly compete against it? "Look a little more closely" said the king, in response to these queries. "At the end of the branch of that tree there, is a bird. He is sitting, perfectly still, in absolute peace."
This is true peace; when we can find peace within the storm of life, then we have found perfect peace.
Coping with the recession is not about what you're doing, it's about what you're being. In the midst of uncertainty, are you getting lost in the worries and concerns of the intellect? Or are you using this opportunity to cultivate a deeper internal anchor, a more stable foundation of love and trust within yourself?
The world is changing at an ever increasing pace, no doubt about it. With change comes uncertainty, which often leads to fear. We are moving into a new precedent, a world with elevating values and hopes. If we cling to what has come before, we will suffer. The old must die to make way for the new. Birth and death are the nature of evolution.
The world is delightfully unpredictable, and just when we think we have everything nicely boxed and categorized, the queen goes and hugs Michelle Obama. Rules are made to be broken, and the laws we often live our lives by can unravel in an instant, in the right circumstances. In our quest for self discovery, we must be willing to question our ideas and convictions, and challenge our own opinions about the world around us and indeed life itself. If we can remain flexible and adaptable in the face of change, we can embrace the new opportunities of a world that none of us can envision in its entirety.
The financial crisis is what you make of it. You can see it as a threat on your security, or you can use it as a tool to find inner stability. Sometimes our greatest losses can become our greatest opportunities; whether you wallow in the ashes or rise up transformed depends on how you make use of the situation to grow.
Do you have any stories to share about how a bad time in your life has ended up being a gift? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section. You can receive notice of this blog every Wednesday by clicking on "Become a Fan" at the top of this page.
Isha's latest book and movie, "Why Walk When You Can Fly?" explains her system for self-love and the expansion of consciousness.
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