The external circumstances do not affect one who knows one’s true nature of being the Atman – this is how Hinduism answers to the question as to who to face adversity.
A clear understanding of who we are and what we want helps us to face times of adversity. Are we mere structures of flesh, bone, blood, and filth? Or are we something beyond these perishable contraptions? Reminding ourselves who we really are is the best antidote to any episode of stress or panic. When Arjuna was afraid and deluded upon seeing his kith and kin in the enemy army of the Kauravas in the battlefield of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata War and when he gave up his arms and desisted from fighting the war, the first thing Sri Krishna did was to remind Arjuna that he was not the body, but he was the Atman that cannot be killed by sword, burnt by fire, or dried by wind. This is how Sri Krishna’s instruction starts in the Bhagavad Gita.
Reminding our true nature is exactly what we need to face adversity. We are not mere bodies or mere minds even. We are the Atman, a reading of the ultimate truth, the Brahman. We exist eternally, we have infinite bliss, and unlimited consciousness. The history of humankind is nothing but a microscopic dot in the eternality of Atman. Every human being has seen thousands of lifetimes, has incarnated over and again as lowly life-forms to intelligent birds and animals. The present birth is only a passing station in our journey to the destination of understanding that we are Brahman.
When Arjuna asks Sri Krishna what are the qualities of a person who has realised one’s true nature, Sri Krishna’s answers have one cardinal aspect – the external circumstances do not affect one who knows one’s true nature of being the Atman.
Adversity reminded us of the inevitability of the impermanent. The perishable will perish. That is why it is called the perishable. Our bodies are perishable. This should not come as a surprise to us.
We have to constantly remember that adverse times are opportunities to examine ourselves to see how much we have imbibed the teachings of the Upanishads that we are not bodies and minds. These are times when God tests our faith. It is in times of crises that we find out the extent of our faith and dependence on God. The wisdom that God or Brahman alone is real and all the names and forms of this universe are unreal will help us sail smoothly through this test of faith.
Originally Published: www.hindu-blog.com