Explore the essence of spiritual resilience and learn practical ways to navigate life's challenges with grace, strength, and inner peace.
In a world of uncertainty, spiritual resilience emerges as the beacon guiding us toward inner peace.
Today, we all need resilience like we need air. The horrific war in the Middle East breaks our hearts and lays bare how small and fragile we are, how small and fragile the earth is. Where do we find shelter? Where do we find peace? Where do we find the strength to heal and respond with compassion?
To be resilient is to be able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions, how we can "bounce back" or regain our strength.
For the CSE community, recovering from the fire in our temple has shown us how spiritual practice and engaging in community supports resilience and how divine grace can inspire us to come together, deepen our faith, and find the strength we need to do what seems beyond us, but must be done. There is no question that we need spiritual resources to be resilient.
In light of Kriya Yoga teachings, I would define resilience as our ability to be anchored in awareness of our spiritual nature as we act skillfully amid challenge and change.
Life expresses as constant motion—light, shadow, pleasure, pain, joy, sorrow. Within that motion, within that activity, is a still point of perfect, unchangeable, unconditional peace, which is the experience of the changeless, eternal divine Self—the light of Supreme Consciousness, our spiritual nature.
Accessing that inner stillness is our greatest resource for resilience. Meditation practice shows us how to find and know that still point—and discover the equilibrium, harmony, and inner peace that opens our vision, understanding, wisdom, and capacity for compassion.
No matter the situation, the solution is this: go straight to the goal—reconnect with your divine Self and live from your soul—respond to the situation from the promptings of the soul, not from the reactions of the mind or emotion. No matter what problem his disciples brought to him, the Kriya Yoga master Lahiri Mahasaya would recommend: meditate more.
But meditation in and of itself is not it. Meditation is not a panacea; it doesn't cure or fix everything. What it does is provide access to the soul, the divine Reality—and That is the source of healing and resilience.
Meditation is only training wheels on the bicycle we ride through the experiences of life. With meditation, we learn how to keep our balance while in motion.
Once we know how to find that still point and recognize it, we can return to it again and again amid the great whirling of this turning world. We can learn how to live from stillness.
A short while after the fire in the CSE temple, I wrote this:
I am contemplating the message of the temple fire—what it might reveal to us. I do not have an insight. Only that, in the aftermath of the fire, there is the experience of "not as before." As in the wake of Covid, we are recognizing that the river of life does not flow backward—there is no "restoring" to a former state, only evolving to what is next. What remains the same? The Truth. The commitment and the vision that underlies the ever-changing form.
Resilience doesn't depend on having answers; it arises from the vision of truth within us.
Then, a poem emerged: When Someone Sets Your Temple on Fire
(The temple in the poem can be this temple, our temple, or it can be whatever we hold sacred—collectively, the earth as our temple; individually, the temple could be our body, our work, marriage, friendship, something, or someone we care deeply about.)
When someone sets your temple on fire
You must let what is burned speak to you.
Stand in what was lost, what remains,
and what is now open to moonlight.
Don't move. Don't rush to rebuild.
Open the eye of your soul and the ear of your heart.
Listen: a holy place always has something to say to you,
In the charred hush, you will learn how to mend your life.
Others will want you to do something,
Begin again, go back, start over, rebuild.
There will be a time for that,
But it is not now.
(The "others" may literally be other people, but often those others are the inner voices that judge, assess, and shout, "Do something!")
Wait for this:
In the deep silence of the soul's fire
In the heat of not knowing, there is a still point.
Through it, you will see a vista of the land
opening for the purple wild hollyhock,
The rare flower that only blooms after a fire.
This morning, Venus has wings,
Swans fly over the rooftops.
Their call beckons you to water,
Go with them. Go with them now.
Insights into spiritual resilience provide practical strategies to gracefully navigate life's challenges, fostering inner peace and strength.
The mythological supreme swan, the "paramahansa," is said to be able to drink from milk and extract the cream, leaving the dross behind. The metaphor points to our capacity to raise our consciousness above seeing only conditions and perceive the unchanging reality of the divine presence.
Skillful action is based on that paramahansa ability to raise our consciousness beyond conditions, remain anchored in awareness of Reality, and act from the soul's guidance, not tossed about by any reaction—anger, fear, or insecurity.
When the temple was burned, many actions were required immediately. But we knew and reminded one another that the most essential requirement is always remembrance of God. Remembrance of God brings resilience.
Close with some words from Paramahansa Yogananda:
Although I am planning and doing things in the world, it is only to please the Lord. I test myself: even when I am working, I whisper within, "Where are you, Lord?" and the whole world changes. There is nothing but a great Light, and I am a little bubble in that Ocean of Light. Such is the joy of existence in God. (Spiritual Diary July 26)
Such is the joy of existence in God.
That joy is rebuilding this temple. That inner joy of remembering God's presence is what we need to heal our hearts. It brings us together to manifest the soul's dream of peace—a great light of Love shining into our lives and into the world.
I'm glad you are here with me, and we are together, near and far, in the Temple of the Eternal Way—in the heart of the One.
© 2023 Ellen Grace O’Brian