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29. Opportunities and Obstacles

Often I hear from devotees, "My prayer is always answered, most of the time at once. Sometimes the answer is delayed, but occasionally I get into a familiar situation. Mother grants me some unheard of rewards, more than I have been thinking of. I am overjoyed. Then one after another difficulties crop up. I am afraid of losing what has come. I pray. Things take a positive turn. A couple of days later again fresh difficulties arise. Each time difficulties arise I pray. Things change. What has come is so far out of my way that I am unable to remain calm. Constantly new problems arise. Things alternate and the end is constantly postponed. I am torn between two sides. The anxiety is so great that I even say to myself that it is better it comes to an end, let the opportunity be cancelled, I don't mind. I am unable to stand this constant anxiety."

I would like to explain what a devotee can do on such occasions to help bring about the best result. I shall quote the experiences of some devotees and comment on them.

"I am an American who has come to Pondicherry for a short visit to the Ashram. I have read Mother's works and am devoted to Her in my own way. A visit to the Samadhi is uplifting, fills me with a peace I have not known before. I feel like sitting there for hours on end. My general tension comes down and disappears. My mind falls silent. My heart is full, full of pleasant, happy feelings. A strange fulfilment creeps over me. A friend engaged me in conversation and casually, without any intention, I mentioned to him that I have a pain in the back. At once he asked me why I should not pray to Mother for the pain to be removed. It never struck me. During my next visit to the Samadhi, I thought of taking it up as a prayer. This pain is very painful, being a back pain at the base of the spine. Several years ago when I was lifting a heavy bundle from my car's trunk, I sprained my spine. I had medical treatment, but doctors say it cannot be fully cured. Day and night I live with it, though it is now within tolerable limits. My father has had it for over 15 years. Perhaps it runs in the family. I have learned to live with it. As a result, my general posture is slightly slanted to avoid the most painful position. It is much less now than in the beginning, but even at this level it is really painful.  I wouldn't wish this suffering even on my enemy.

"I visited the Samadhi the next day, concentrated, meditated and after some time, remembered to pray to Mother that my pain should go away. I fell into deep meditation. When I came to myself, I stood up and walked to my room. My friend came to visit me that evening. As our conversation began to touch upon many issues, we came to my pain. Suddenly it dawned on me that for the first time since it began, my pain had not been there at all that day. I was unable to believe my senses. How is it that I did not notice it for the whole day?  Mother had given me a gift, really a wonderful gift. My mind began to work. I thought of all the works I used to shun because of this pain. Now I could do them. I had an intimate friend who had this pain. I could tell her too about this. I could tell my father too. I thought, but I hesitated because there in America people may think I am crazy if I speak like this. My mind was full of a million thoughts.

To my surprise, I found that the pain started coming back after two days. Again I prayed at the Samadhi. It left, but this time it left only half way. What a tragedy after that wonderful relief!  I was unable to control my thoughts. I didn't want to lose this relief. My mind has been on fire, not being able to go either way. I just do not know what I should do to make my relief permanent."

Let me quote another man also:

"I am a retired government servant who at the time of retirement was sanctioned a pension of Rs.45 per month. After retirement I started selling casurina firewood for a living. Over the past 15 years I have progressed in my business and purchased lands and raised casurina myself. Now I have a good property and I am 75. I would like to sell the casurina lands and take rest, but the 27 acres are worth only Rs.10,000 in the market. I could sell it if someone offered me Rs.27,000. I have been trying to sell the lands for the last five years. Once a buyer agreed for Rs.27,000, but the sale did not come through. After great efforts, a buyer came to me, anxious to buy it at my price of Rs.27,000. At this point I was invited to Mother's Darshan by another old man of 70. When I returned home, to my utter astonishment, my lands had become very valuable. A fertilizer company wanted the lands. I finalised the bargain at Rs.81,000. The man was writing the agreement but stopped in the middle. He said he would come back in a week. Two months have passed. He has never come back. I am almost mad. Every car that I pass looks like his car. Every person who comes to my house looks like that man. I have lost sleep and my peace of mind. What an opportunity came my way and how quickly it faded away. My mind considers thousands of possibilities. Finally I have decided to give up and go to the man who had offered me Rs.27,000. This opportunity has become like a torture and I would rather not have it."

Surely the man's plight is pitiable. It is one thing not to have the opportunity. It is another thing to get it and lose it. On these occasions, the more the mind thinks, the more the opportunity is cancelled. What can we do?  Is there anything that can be done to save the situation?  Is there anything we can do to control our thoughts?

A girl of 31 says, "No one who has looked at my face or even photograph has wanted to see me again. So far dozens of grooms have come and gone. The last man, a man of property, a graduate, came to our house with his parents, saw me and agreed to marry me. This was a surprise to me. Between now and the wedding my one fear is that the groom's party may cancel it. My mind runs in all directions. The anxiety is so great."

An engineer says, "I am working in a simple situation. People who are starting a factory for Rs.1.5 crores have offered me a share. This is too great an opportunity for me to lose. My one fear is they should not change their minds before the documents are signed."

We can give a dozen more examples. As a rule, on these occasions the mind is activated, one is beside himself, daydreams, builds castles, plans for the future, and again, as a rule, the expectations cancel the opportunities or shrink them to a tenth of what was first offered.

I would say that Mother gives, but Man cancels. This is to reverse the proverb that Man proposes and God disposes. It is true that I would suggest that one should keep the mind calm so that Mother can act effectively. It is not reasonable for me to advise a person in this situation to keep his mind calm, knowing it is nearly impossible. Is there a way out?  There is.

We know it is Mother who brought this great opportunity to us. We also know that She cannot act through impatience, anxiety, excitement or nervousness. We know Mother acts best in calm, quiet steadiness, firm faith, and great patience. People who are in such anxious conditions should try to understand this truth and resolve to be calm and unthinking. They must resolve not to be excited, not to activate the thoughts in a hundred directions. If thoughts persist, one should try not to indulge in the thoughts. Mind will become partially calm. In some cases, this resolution makes the mind fully calm, too. If, in spite of this resolution, the mind is still restive, pray to Mother for calm and patience. She certainly gives it. One by one the difficulties recede and the originally given opportunity always emerges in full measure. All who have consulted me, including those mentioned in this article, have happily and fully solved their problems in this way.

book | by Dr. Radut