The Gifts of Struggle
“If you are in a relationship struggle, ‘Congratulations!’, you are gifted a living classroom”. I have often heard this sentiment from my guru, Acharya Shunya, and she gifted this to us again during a recent Vedic Spiritual Studies class on power and relationships. This seemingly contradictory sentence has provided many opportunities for contemplation (mananam) for me over the years. In truth, I have never really understood it and have felt resistant. Yet I have always known Acharya Shunya to be clear when it comes to spiritual discourse, so I realized any confusion or resistance necessarily is mine to sort out.
It seemed to me that I have often been in relationship struggles: with family, at work and most recently in my marriage. I don’t want to paint a picture that I have discord everywhere, but suffice it to say there has been a consistent theme of relationship struggle in my adult life. Mostly this has NOT felt like a gift but a burden, a taxing frustration that I would rather not have to deal with. Over the years, I have teetered on the edge of “why me?”: I am a good person, I help others and try to be kind so why all of this? Needless to say I have spent a TREMENDOUS amount of energy to try to get rid of all of these struggles.
Fortunately, I have been able to not fall into the abyss of staying small through being in Satsangha with Acharya Shunya. That being said, I have experienced myself in a tension between shrinking down into victimhood, and acting from that place, and bursting forth with Shakti (divine energy) and acting from that place too. In other words, I am emboldened and lifted by the words of my teacher but this is a transitory state that gets deflated in the face of trauma and abuse by others. It is the gift of the Guru to prevent our collapse because the guru knows our true nature is Power. But is this really true that ‘I Am A Powerful Being’? Am I just borrowing the power from my teacher? How can I experience this Shakti not just in some fleeting moments?
These types of contemplations, necessarily, would not be at the forefront of my mind if I was not experiencing struggles. If life was flowing along easily I might actually ride the wave of semi-conscious living and not give too many thoughts about my inner strength as it would not even need to be tapped to live day to day. With my most recent, and most difficult, relationship struggles I have held onto the wisdom that struggles are opportunities for our own contemplation and growth. It has been a strange and beautiful process to stand in the Observer consciousness and apply the teachings I have received over the years from Acharya Shunyaji. In the last six months, after being a student of my guru for seven years, I am only now truly understanding the teachings. Certainly I have intellectually understood the words and sentiments, but through these struggles I have been able to truly live the knowledge.
This embodiment of Divine Power has been scary and I see all the ways in which my small self, who has dominated much of my interactions in my life, continues to try to stay in the driver’s seat. I really appreciated when Acharya Shunya said that we need to love our small self, our Ego, as it is like a child that does not know what to do unless guided. If you have ever engaged with children (teenagers in particular) they may resist or scoff at your guidance but with time you see that they actually have listened and are willing to be supported. This is the way too with Divine Power and the Ego, with our Divine Power guiding the actions of the Ego.
I am every day turning more to the gratitude of the relationship struggles on my path to moksha (spiritual freedom). They are allowing me truly realize my inherent power and letting my Ego transactions change from battles to moments of joy and love. My Ego has been in the driver’s seat for a LONG time, so I have much work to do. I am ready for the struggles ahead, knowing that I AM A POWERFUL BEING.
The author Janya Tuere Anderson is a long time student of Acharya Shunya, and serves as Co-Director of Vedika's Awakening Community Circle program.
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