Sunday, October 22, 2017

Anxiety of the Unknown

“As is the Hukam of Your Command, so do things happen. Wherever You keep me, there I go and stand.” (Ang 523 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji)

Times of uncertainty can sometimes even be more challenging than bad news. In a bad news scenario, one deals with the emotions and slowly moves through them. When you don’t know what’s next, it makes it challenging because your life is emotionally on hold. You can't deal with the emotions because you don't know what to feel- happy because things went one way, or sad because things went the other way. As a person that is used to making plans, I find this type of pause in life to be a huge test of my patience. There’s always a time in life when everything that was in your control has been completed and now you wait. The easiest example that most people probably relate to is waiting to hear back about a job opportunity or university acceptance, etc. This also happens in other domains of life, sometimes related to our health, finances, housing, or relationships, etc.  Waiting to see what happens can take its own toll on our mental health if we don’t deal with it properly.

It is during these times it is important to ground ourselves spiritually. Perhaps trusting Waheguru was more difficult than you’ve ever realized. The first step is having faith so you aren’t angry if things don’t go your way. Giani Sant Singh Maskeen Ji gave this example in his katha. There is a small child trying to reach for the fire on the stove. His mother stops him, and to that child, his mother feels like his enemy because she is stopping him from catching the fire. Since he desires to touch the fire, she is getting in the way of his desire. When a person grows up, they understand that their mother did right and was protecting them. Similarly, those who do Naam Japna understand that Waheguru is our parent, and when our desire is not fulfilled there is benefit for me in that as well. We are being saved from dangers that we do not see. Instead many people get angry that our wish is not fulfilled, similar to the mindset of the young child who wants to put his hand in the fire. Maskeen Ji continues and tells us if there is dukh in life, then it was needed, if there is sukh in life, then it was needed as well. Waheguru is the ultimate parent and knows what we need when we need it. Perhaps there is dukh at this time because you need to wake up from the illusion and make some changes in your life.

“Whatever my Friend does, I accept” (Ang 187)

I have written about this topic in the past- about not having your ardas answered, about not having life go your way. Once you learn how to move through that, your faith deepens and you no longer get angry anymore. I find that the harder thing is not even being at that stage yet and sitting in the realm of the unknown. It creates doubts that challenge the trust in Hukam. Just a sliver of doubt can create thousands of anxieties for anyone, because doubt is maya. Maya takes us away from God, away from peace. One of my friends wisely said that it is during these moments of uncertainty, that we tend to start mentally creating an agenda of what we want and try guiding God to our direction. In fact, we are creating more doubt in our minds and fighting against the natural flow of what God is doing. Instead we wear ourselves out trying to fight with our minds. If life is moving slowly, there is a reason for that also. It is our mistake to try to force a rush.

I have realized now that the opposite of carefree is that one is doubtful in their trust of Waheguru’s Hukam. Guru Ji tells us “Under Guru’s Instructions, hold your mind steady; O my soul, do not let it wander anywhere.” I find that once you get into a cycle of anxiety and doubt it becomes harder and harder to do the paath and naam simran that is the necessary medicine to make it go away, and the less paath and naam simran, the more the feelings grow. Therefore it’s nice to have a solid foundation for spirituality in the first place so that when those times of uncertainty and challenges come in life, we have at least a routine established. Then the mind remains steady. If you are already stuck in the anxiety of the unknown, it’s important to remember what Guru Ji has taught us. Listening to kathas and reading books gives us real life examples of when other people have had their lives changed through Gurbani; it gives us inspiration on how to live our spiritual life. Doing sewa and hard work allows us to meet other sangat to develop support, allows us to feel good and lets us give back. Doing kirtan and simran lets us connect directly to Waheguru and put peace in our minds. When we combine these actions, we can move our way from anxiety to acceptance of Waheguru's Hukam and we can at least move forward spiritually while we wait to see what's next in life. 

P.S. completely changing topics, I'm super excited that our 11 other English educational plaques for our Gurdwara Sahib have arrived! They will hopefully be up in the langar hall at the end of the week. 

References (short Maskeen Ji katha clips):

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