Years ago I heard a spiritual teacher say that suffering is grace because it brings us closer to the Divine.
While I have had this experience, lately I have come to realize more and more that this is not always the case.
Sometimes we suffer and distance ourselves from the Divine. We may become angry or give up on the Divine. Or feel as though the Divine has given up on us.
This is never the case.
The challenges we face can be stumbling blocks that take us off our path (whatever that may be), or they can be stepping stones that lead us further down the path. The choice is ours. Whatever we are facing can be fuel for the journey, or it can completely derail us.
I shared in one of my first blog posts about a difficult time I went through years ago. I was newly divorced with a young son and I lost my home. I held onto my spiritual practice more than ever, and not only made it through those times, which lasted a few years, but they were pivotal times in my life. Despite being some of the more challenging times in my life, they were some of the most beautiful. Truly. They were times of such incredible beauty and expansion. My practice at the time was devotional chanting. I had the Names of God in my heart and on my lips for hours every day. And everything was okay, no matter what it looked like from the outside.
Master Sha teaches about having an unshakable heart. We have to be solid so nothing can shake our heart.
In the Immortal Tao Classic, two hundred twenty sacred phrases for the spiritual journey that Master Sha received from the Tao, there is one line in particular that deeply moves me:
Lian Xin Bu Dong
Pronounced lyen sheen boo dawng, this means the Xiu Lian heart cannot be shaken. Xiu means purification and “Lian” means practice. “Xiu Lian” (pronounced sheo lyen) means practice to purify soul, heart, mind, and body. If you are a serious spiritual practitioner, or if you wish to live a peaceful, balanced life, an unshakable heart is a must.
There is much negativity and pollution on Mother Earth. There is pollution of all kinds, not only environmental pollution. You cannot let it shake your heart. Walking a spiritual path can be challenging at times; to not be distracted by the pollution, and to always be aware of how easily we can create new karma by what we speak, what we see, what we think, what we do.
One of the benefits of spiritual practice is that it purifies the heart. With a pure heart, the negativity and pollution around you won`t shake your heart. It won`t derail you. It cannot distract you from your journey. What`s more, when faced with challenges big or small, you can stay on track, or more easily get back on track.
Use everything you can as fuel for your journey, and your journey will keep moving forward.
Everything you do, and everything you experience, can be a way of coming to God.