Someone once asked me, “I often feel overwhelmed by situations. How to face life’s challenges?” To that, I replied: Your only problem is that life and the world are not happening the way you think they should happen.
Is there any other problem in your life? If you look at your thought process, is there any consistency to it? Looking at it from that perspective, aren’t you glad the world is not happening the way you think it should happen? “No, no, but my situation…”
The situation is not the problem. Even if you are placed in the most horrible situation, you can handle it gracefully. People have, haven’t they? People have even walked to the gallows gracefully. Let me tell you an incident.
This happened in Austria in 1939—at the time when Hitler was picking up Jews and packing them into concentration camps. There was a girl who was 13 years of age. She belonged to an affluent Jewish family of about 17 members that lived in one large home. One fine morning, soldiers walked into their home, occupied the house and took the adults and children away separately.
The 13-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother were taken to a railway station. It was the beginning of winter and it was cold in Austria.
Children of an affluent family now on a railway station platform for three days… their parents were gone and they didn’t know where…soldiers with guns pointing at them. It was bad, but children are miserable only for a little while.
After that, they find something to kick around and start having fun. So the boy started playing a little bit of football. After three days, a train came—a goods train, not a passenger train—and everybody was pushed into the wagons. At the next station, the boys and girls were separated and taken away.
Five-and-half years later, in 1945, the girl came out of the concentration camp to discover that all members of her family had perished, including her little brother. At that moment, the only thing that she remembered was the last moment she had spent with him; how ugly she had made it for him.
She had boxed his ears, punched him in the face and said ugly things because he had lost his shoes. This made her resolve, “From today, it doesn’t matter whom I meet I will speak to them in such a way that if it happens to be the last time I speak to them, I will not regret it.”
So even the most horrible situations can make a human being what she or he is; no matter what situation you are placed in, you can make it either your boon or your curse.
If you are aware, if you are in touch with your self, you can make your life even if you are placed in hell. Otherwise, even if you are placed in heaven, you only make a mess out of it. Who told you that you are not already in heaven? Is there any confirmation that you are not already in heaven? Can you prove you are not there? No.
So why do you think there is another place which is better than this? This horrible idea that there is another place better than this has been created by people who have made a hell out of themselves.
You made a hell out of yourself so now you want to go to heaven. If you make a heaven out of yourself, if you are ecstatic, why would you want to go anywhere? Wherever I go, it doesn’t matter to me.
So see how to make a heaven out of yourself. Otherwise, even if you are living in heaven, you will only suffer. Especially if everybody is happy, if all your competitors, your enemies, your neighbours and your mother-in-law are having a good time, you may suffer a lot.
A lot of people are suffering because somebody else is having a good time. This does not apply just to a few sick people; it applies to the majority.
If you are walking on the street and somebody is driving a car, you suffer. If everybody was walking, you would be okay, isn’t it? If everybody was poor, you would be okay; somebody is rich, that is a problem.
You are suffering somebody’s joy and somebody’s wellbeing simply because there is no joy within you. You think pulling that man down or getting on top of him is going to bring you joy. No, that is not going to happen.
This is like Shankaran Pillai. He had a baby in the house but didn’t have livestock. His wife constantly nagged, “We have a child but we don’t have a cow and no milk.” Frustrated, he went for a walk and then he came across a house that had eight cows and two children.
He thought, “Why eight cows for two children?” He walked in, took one cow and walked away. After some time, the police arrested him and took him to court.
“I didn’t steal anything. This cow has been with me for a month; this is my cow,” Shankaran Pillai emphasised. The lawyer insisted, “See, this cow was in somebody else’s house.” Shankaran Pillai said, “Wait! Two years ago, my wife was also in somebody else’s house—her father’s—now she is my wife.
Are you disputing that?” “No,” said the lawyer. “Then what’s the problem with the cow?” The lawyer said, “It’s not the same.”
The owner of the cow added, “I can produce two witnesses who have seen you stealing this cow.” Shankaran Pillai said, “That’s nonsense! I can produce 100 witnesses who have not seen me stealing this cow. How is that?”
So, you don’t know whether this is really heaven or not. What if it is and you missed it? Suppose this is heaven and you never realised it—what a horrible way to live. And I am telling you, it is, because the basis of your experience is within you.
If you take charge of that, you can make heaven out of it right now. Your intolerant neighbour, the noisy child next door, your mother-in-law, all these people have been added so that there is a little spice in your life, for excitement—but it is actually heaven.