During her battle with ovarian cancer, my sister Sun used to tell me that God gave her a cross she could bear inspite of all the mental, emotional and physical pain she endured. I always thought it was so admirable of her to say that, but it was hard for me to comprehend and accept at that time. Over the course of 10 years after Sun’s death, I realized the truth in it. Knowing that the Universe is perfect in its creation and design, including that of us, humans, I am convinced that there is a reason for everything. So when we are given hardships, there are good reasons for them.
No matter how much we’re in control over our lives, we all get caught up in the chaos of living and, at some point, we all experience overwhelming feelings. When I get overwhelmed, I can just feel my body tensing and my head spinning where I can’t think straight. If this state continues, it can have the potential to spiral out of control. Emotions of frustration, resentment and anger arise because we ask ourselves, “why is it happening to me?” For me, the answer to this million dollar question is that there is a lesson to be learned from every obstacle we face. In Buddhism, the concept that we re-incarnate into another body is because we have not learned all the lessons in our past lives, so we return in flesh in order to do so. As we all know, we do not learn in happy times but in hard times, so our coming back into flesh, which in Buddhism is called suffering, provides an opportunity to be spiritually educated to move toward an enlightened being.
The Universe places us in the right situation to learn a specific lesson because, in its infinite wisdom, it is balancing all the energies — the yin and yang. My husband tells me how hard his work in engineering is, but I always tell him that he would never become a better engineer if the work was easy because then he would never learn anything. My husband should be thankful for the hard engineering problems, rather than view them as a nuisance. So instead of seeing our obstacles or lessons in a negative light, we can look at them in a positive way, knowing that the challenges before us are designed to help, not hinder, us.
The best way to bear the cross God has given us is by surrendering and accepting to whatever the Universe provides. By surrendering to a situation, we are able to shift our focus on what needs to be done, rather than on the already spilled milk. By resisting surrender, we obsess about what wronged us in the past, so it does not allow us to move forward, which makes us mentally and emotionally stuck. So accepting allows us to shift our energies and focus on what can be done now, which makes us very productive and moves our life in the forward direction. Not too long ago, I spoke with a young lady in her 20’s who, after some years of pain, was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. At one point, it became so severe that she was hospitalized for 3 days. She told me that she was initially angry because of her disease, but realized that she had to surrender and accept to her situation if she were to have any chance at healing. How wise of her to realize this, because our bodies respond directly to our thoughts and mind. So if she could accept her pain and disease, she would have a much better chance at physical healing.
I believe it is very hard for us to see our obstacles in a positive light because the fear of the unknown overcomes us. It brings out the worst qualities in us, like selfishness, ego-centrism, greed, rather than the best, like love or compassion. In order to quell our fear, it is important to have faith in the Universe and accept its ways. Otherwise, we leave everything up to our own devices, i.e. our ego, which only dictates fear, so how can we operate in such an unhealthy state? While we may not be able to see, in front of our eyes, that there is a much larger, wiser plan, if we tap into our higher spiritual energy levels, we can know in our core Being and in our mind’s eye that such a divine plan exists. When we feel these higher energies, we know with certainty (like knowing that gravity exists without seeing it) that our Universe is always looking out for us, and we can take enormous comfort in that. So, we can also take comfort, and even rejoice, in the cross we have been given, no matter how large or small it is.
I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for our internal strength. If we review our lives, there are countless times when we can confidently say that we rose to a difficult situation. As Jesus was provided with the cross he could bear to save humanity’s souls, we can certainly bear whatever God has planned for us. In bearing that cross with surrender and acceptance, we can live in our own optimal balance of life: the yin and yang.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living