“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability
to choose one thought over another.”
- William James
At some points in our lives we go through some form of stress, and during those times it feels like we’re being hemmed in by it. It’s as if we can only be at peace if the source of stress vanishes. When one searches for any remedies to stress or anxiety, some of them may work, but they do not provide a long-term fix. For example, say your personal treatment for stress is spending time with friends and family. What if something changed in the dynamics of your friends or family; this meant you couldn’t spend as much time with them as you would like. We have all heard the popular saying, “Friends come and go, but family is with you forever.” This can be extended to include a third dimension: Friends may come and go; family may also come and go, but Shriji Maharaj and the Satpurush are with you forever.
In Gadhada III 8, Shriji Maharaj describes how we can stay eternally happy. Amongst other things, he mentions that we need firm vairagya and love for God to achieve this. With all the temptations in the world, these two are more difficult to attain than we care to admit. Typically, we are brought up in this exciting but intimidating world. Right from the beginning of our school lives, this sometimes unmanageable pressure gets loaded onto us. The need to impress and get a good job and earn lots of money are at the forefront of our minds, whilst sometimes satsang lingers in the background. Despite reading countless times that we should distance ourselves from worldly pleasures, we don’t. Maybe we’re not ready or maybe it is just too difficult. Nonetheless, it is still important that we at least try. As Mahant Swami Maharaj often says, “Do your best and leave the rest.”
Of course, we should all work hard and strive to get a good job. Those are things that satsang encourages. However, getting good grades and a good job should not be the building blocks of our lives. Religion should be. If and only if, intense love for God is present in our minds and our hearts, then all the rest will fall into place. On 23 August 1988, Carlos Vega, a 62-year-old American, went to meet Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Los Angeles. On meeting Swamishri, Carlos said that he experienced peace like no other. He then said that he had everything: cars, money and a beautiful home. Swamishri interrupted him and said, “I have no money, I have God. When you have God, you have everything.”
Rather than thinking that we have got this human body to get a good job and earn lots of money, we should think that we are primarily here to attain Akshardham and not materialistic things. You have probably read that line or something very similar a thousand times and are probably thinking to yourself, “I get it!” True, it is easier said than done, so why not start to think like this in small steps. Any time we get stressed or nervous or overwhelmed, we should think to ourselves, “I am atma and not the body.” The main purpose of our life is to follow niyams and attain moksha. Essentially, detach yourself from worldly activities and attach yourself to Bhagwan. Keep your worldly life modest and your satsang above all else. Strive to earn a successful living but whenever you feel life is too much, don’t become absorbed in that journey, but rather become absorbed in your efforts to attain Akshardham. By doing this and changing your mindset, stress will slowly disintegrate.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had encountered a myriad difficulties. In 1987, permission to build a mandir in Harrow, London, was denied. Naturally everyone experienced stress, anxiety and disappointment upon hearing this. However, on the other side of the leaf, Pramukh Swami Maharaj remained calm. His response was, “Whatever Maharaj does is beneficent.” There’s failure in this story, but there’s also resilience and composure.
In the Satsang Diksha, Mahant Swami Maharaj writes, “Bhagwan je kare te sadāy sārā māte hoy. Temni ichchhā e ja māru prārabdha chhe. Teo ja mārā tārak chhe.” This translates to, “Whatever Bhagwan does is always beneficial. His wish alone is my prarabdha. He alone is my liberator.” Although success in our world is important, it should not override our aim to achieve moksha. Bhagwan will do what he wills. Our priority should be to attain moksha and when we physically depart from this earth our atmas enter Akshardham. With this thought, stress won’t enter our minds and through this mindset, our lives will become much happier.