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August 2013

Learning from the Train ride

-Karthik Gurumurthy

I usually take the train to work.  Today, there was a quiet, modest middle aged lady sitting next to me. Right opposite to her was a young clergyman, probably in his early thirties. I was trying to read my book, hoping to kill time on my way to work.

I will admit my crime: I couldn't concentrate on the book. I was listening to the conversation between these two people. I know, my behavior was totally unacceptable, but I hope that the quiet lady and young priest will forgive me..I hope!

"Why me again, Father? Why is this happening to me? Is there any answer to my question? Tell me, please, what have I done so badly in my life to 'deserve' such poor health"

A Thousand-year old question: " Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Who knows the answer?

The words were an expression of emotional pain and a cry of anguish. I knew any rational explanation would be irrelevant; he knew an expression of pain required empathy.

What was he going to say?

"All events serve precisely for what we need at that time. Sometimes in life adversity can be a wake-up call, encouraging us to learn, not to punish us. If you have an acceptance and understanding that a human life consists of moments of happiness and moments of sadness, during the time of sadness you will know there is another side of it. Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. There is purpose and meaning to the difficult times we face. It is part of our soul's journey. Some experiences may seem bad at that moment, only because we lack the perspective of the bigger picture."

I couldn't stop thinking about that conversation. No, it wasn't a conversation; it was a sermon in the metrolink train.

"What's this? Is he teaching her the lesson or he comforting her?"

It was not up to me to make any judgmental thoughts. I was there as an "intruder".

After I got down from the train, I was thinking about the conversation that I just overheard.

What he said is so true. Events in our life are not mere coincidences, nothing just happens; there is always a powerful lesson to learn. When something bad happens, the first step should be to try to understand the message, not to suffer. It is our obligation and wisdom to figure out the message, and move forward. It is hard to understand and accept, but it is true.

I am realizing that the emotional healing will take place only when you learn to accept and experience the full range of your feelings. The true healing lies in self -acceptance. Every individual has a unique mission to fulfill. Our soul has a purpose in life. No matter what happens, look for the good. When you seek it, you will find it. The best question we can ask ourselves when we encounter these kind of situation is " Life is trying to teach us exactly what we need to learn. We should take it as a gift and a lesson to learn.

My dad always used to share a story  from the epic Mahabharata about Kunti (mother of three Pandavas, when she prayed as she was upset that her sons were banished to the forest. Lord Krishna appeared and asked what "boon" she would like?. She replied back, "Lord, give me more suffering, more difficulties, for it is in suffering that I remembered you."

Tough situations are there to make us better, believe it or not. Life without difficulties is a wasted life, because there is no incentive to grow and take on a larger understanding. It is the adversity or suffering that encourages us to reach for the divine (inner strength) within us.