How to Face Obstacles in Life

Embracing Life's Challenges So We Can Soar High

June 2008

There was once a man who noticed a beautifully woven cocoon on a tree outside his home. He carefully watched the cocoon every day in order to catch the first glimpse of the beautiful butterfly he knew would emerge. Finally, one day he saw a tiny hole in the cocoon which grew quickly as the hours passed. He sat watching the butterfly break her way out of her cocoon. However, suddenly he noticed that it seemed the butterfly had stopped making progress. The hole did not get any larger and the butterfly seemed to be stuck. The cocoon was bouncing up and down on the branch as the butterfly tried to squeeze herself, unsuccessfully, through the hole she created.

The man watched in dismay as it seemed his butterfly would not be able to emerge. Finally, he went inside, took a small pair of scissors, an carefully cut the cocoon, allowing the butterfly to emerge easily. However, the butterfly immediately dropped to the groung instead of soaring gracefully into the sky as he imagined she would.

The man noticed that the butterfly's stomach was swollen and distended but her wings were small and shriveled, explaining her inability to fly. He assued that after some time, the stomach would shrink and the wings would expand, and she would fly in her fullest glory. However, this was never to be.

The man didn't know that it was the very act of forcing her body through the tiny hole in the cocoon which would push all the fluid from her stomach into her wings. Without that external pressure, the stoimach would always be swollen and the wings would always be shriveled. The butterfly would never fly.

In life, too frequently, we avoid the challenges, looking for the easy way out. We look for the people who will "cut our cocoon," so that we never have to work and push our way through anything. However, little do we realize that it is going through those times of difficulty which prepare us for the road ahead. The obstacles in our path are God's way of making us able to fly. With every bit of pushing and struggling, our wings become fuller and fuller. Without successfully navigating our challenges, struggles and hurdles we never learn how to fly. We are never able to leave the chains that bind us. We never become that beautiful, final product that God has envisioned for us. A butterfly's ultimate destiny is to soar gracefully and beautifully, yet in order to do so she has to push herself through a tight cocoon. We can never know our own ultimate, highest destiny unless we are prepared to face and overcome the struggles that life puts in our path.

So frequently, people come to me and say, "Oh, why has God given me so much strife. Why has He put so many obstacles in my path? Why is He punishing me?"

We must realize these are not punishments. Sure, karma plays a large role in what we recieve in this lifetime, but even the things that seem like "bad" karma, are actually opportunities for growth. Even an extra small hole to squeeze through is actually an opportunity for our wings to expand to great lengths.

So, let us learn to take our challenges for what they are, rather than looking around for a "different" hole, or for someone with a pair of scissors. These things may help us quickly through the cocoon, but we will be unable to fly in life.

With love and blessings to you all,

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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