The fifth maxim advises, “Be truthful. Take miseries as Divine Blessings for your own good and be thankful.” The first thought that comes to mind is one from my days of dabbling in Buddhism. For a brief moment I tried on a form of Japanese Buddhism founded by the monk Nichiren. Nichiren Buddhism is a practice founded on chanting of a mantra which is actually the title of a book – a sutra. I won’t go into that here now, but something that is often talked about in the SGI (Sokka Gakkai International – Nichiren Buddhist organization) is turning poison into medicine. To turn poison into medicine requires an elevated state. An internal adjustment. It required being able to see past the sting of the poison. The substance (poison) is not different – doesn’t change. And one’s individual essence is also unchanging. In basic terms, the perspective can really make a difference. Be able to separate the temporal from that which will remain.
Being able to separate and recognize the difference in perception / perspective is where the truth stays put. This is being truthful. Yeah, it means being honest – but truthfulness isn’t that shallow. I’ll try to provide an example: Years ago, I was shopping in a Marshall’s store. It’s been long enough ago now that I forget all of the details, but I was called over to the counter – a non-register line. And as I arrived and placed my items on the counter, the employee helping me pretty well thrashed my things around. She was huffing and puffing, rolling her eyes, not smiling or even making normal small talk with me. She slammed clothing around as she removed the anti-theft tags, etc… She was actually being quite rude to me. But was she?
I was separate enough from the situation to realize, quite easily, that I’d literally done nothing to elicit this behavior from her and so I just watched. Anyone who knows me, knows I probably had an expression on my face that would have clearly communicated to this young lady that I wasn’t about to have any of that from her. At some point, she made eye contact with me, and her expression softened instantly. So did her other behaviors. She then sighed softly, paused for just a second, and then quietly said to me, “I’m sorry.” Without breaking eye contact, I gently replied to her, “You’re okay. I promise.” The rest of my time in the checkout was quick and peaceful. And that was that.
Someone else might have gotten pissed because she was roughly handling things they intended to buy and the situation would maybe have gone from bad to worse. I was briefly able to discern the truth of the situation – which had nothing to do with me – and then extend grace to her as a result. And much needed grace, so it seemed! This is what truthfulness means to me in this maxim – setting ego aside and turning a poisonous circumstance into something medicinal.
When we talk about taking miseries as Divine Blessings for your own good and then being thankful, we usually think of bad karma. I get a flat tire. Labs come back from my doctor’s visit all wonky. My child breaks her arm playing at school. I lose my job. I lose my spouse. All miseries, surely. But usually when we try to consider these occurrences we resign ourselves to an understanding that we simply don’t possess. We blindly assume that God has a higher purpose for our misery or perhaps that we’ve transgressed God’s holy will in some way and are being punished – which then forces us into trying to be glad god is spanking us. Again … kindergartner’s notepad. God doesn’t have an opinion and also doesn’t punish us. Those are human traits alone. Seeing miseries as divine blessings requires the truthfulness I mentioned earlier. It requires a higher awareness – even if only temporarily. It’s based on the heart full of love and devotion and also harmony with Nature from the earlier maxims.
The natural response in all of this is gratitude – which is what this maxim ends with. What are we thankful for at this point? That’s easy – realization. Of what? The Self, Nature, our Center and Source. These first five maxims really could be it. If these are followed one morning, then they can apply to the next morning and the one after that. The foundation for a productive and peaceful life has been set. And with practice and even the smallest amount of dedication these become so easy! Think about summarizing these five and you will see how effective the Sahaj Marg Heartfulness practice can be at stripping away the baggage that keeps us bogged down, un-integrated, perpetually on the wheel of death and rebirth. These five alone are fairly complete. Luckily we have five more. We’re half way through!
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti