It was a bright, sunny early evening when I left home to head out for the Friday evening lecture hosted by our local Vedanta group. By the time I got to the highway a few minutes later to head east for a few miles, the skies had suddenly darkened. A mile or so later, it was pouring down, torrential downpour – severe enough for me to consider pulling over and let it pass.
I slowed down but decided to keep going, hoping that the thunderstorm would pass through. By the time I arrived at the venue, I realized that I had arrived at the eye of the storm, which included the steady drum-beat of pelting down pea-sized hail. I decided to wait it out in my car, for to step outside would surely mean an instant shower. Maybe I should have stayed home today?
The speaker was a young monk from Hollywood, California, who had arrived in the USA from India, less than two years ago. As he started his lecture, it was apparent that his (very good) English was still heavily tinged with Indian accents. However, his two-part message, of which, “flexibility in spiritual practice” was the second part, was unmistakably clear. With story after story of how to practice spiritual flexibility in life with respect to time, to people and to situations, he held the audience in rapt interest.
The gist of his message was that spiritual flexibility is one of the best ingredients to create inner peace.
Have you ever read or listened to spiritual and religious material(s) (books, essays, lectures, scriptures) and wondered why some of the messages within them seem anachronistic (out of time and place) with modern life? If yes, then his suggestion was to put a ‘time context’ to those material(s), and allow for temporal flexibility of the message(s) contained within them. The message(s) that made ‘sense’ then may not necessarily make ‘sense’ now. We may have to re-visit, re-classify, re-evaluate, and maybe even reject certain old doctrine(s), so that we do not become prisoners of dogma. This is called spiritual flexibility in time.
Have you ever wondered why certain people get attracted to certain spiritual practice(s) while some seem totally disinterested in them? Some may prefer yoga or chanting, others may prefer going to places of worship, while others may choose meditation or something entirely different. To each their own. There are also those who have developed a variety of such practices. Such people have the ability to be flexible in their understanding of, and their response to, different types of people. Diversity of spiritual tools allows us to practices flexibility with people.
Have you ever felt that your beliefs, your responses, and your outcomes to seemingly similar life situations have changed over time? An event or situation that would have sent you into a tail-spin a few year ago barely registers a blip on your emotional radar – this is a sign of growth in emotional intelligence. Similarly, our ability to respond with equanimity to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ events in our lives, and keep on doing good for the greater good, is a sign of spiritual flexibility in life situations.
Spiritual resilience is a benefit of developing spiritual flexibility. We learn the art of being flexible, and adapting with time, with people, and with life’s situations. What other pros (and cons) may be the result of practicing spiritual flexibility? I invite you to come and share with us in our weekly gathering. Namaste.
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering on twitter – Sunday, June 30 at 9amET. I will bring some questions (and answers), and we can help each other build resilience as we walk our paths forward. Namaste – Kumud
The tree trunks, the branches, the leaves, and the not-visible roots… they are flexible, they all bend to the light and the wind… and hence transmit peace