By Sarvesh Mehrotra
All the reading that we do, the education that we get, and the experiences that we go through are to one end: to help us to live our potential. Life wouldn’t have created us, if it didn’t want us to bring an aspect of it to life, or if it didn’t believe in our capabilities to do so. If we’re here, it is because we’re endowed with the ability to manifest an aspect of the Divine in this three-dimensional world. So basically our main objective in life should be to find out what our unique abilities are, and set about bringing them to life.
Instead, we get lost in distractions. These come in many forms: money and the things it can buy; family, friends, relatives: all well-meaning and good-intentioned but driving us away from what we should be doing at any moment; job and responsibilities taken to impress other people; TV, Internet, social media; habits like smoking and drinking; sleep. Society around us isn’t set up to help its constituents shine. It’s set up to keep them alive and well-fed and clothed, and we have invented numerous and amazingly complex mechanisms to ensure survival.
Staying alive is important, of course. Keeping our bodies fed and clothed is too. However, getting lost in just ensuring these is like keeping a car well-oiled and serviced and sparkling clean, but never taking it out of the garage. Things are getting better and better, to the point that we don’t really need those improvements. Our cars are getting faster and more powerful as the space to drive them in shrinks. Our phones now have more technology than a space-ship of a few decades ago. We’re creating better software and spending money and time to create better robots and artificial intelligence. And while our problems have only become different from the generations before us, our state of mind as individuals is the same as, if not worse than, before. I think as a society, we’re getting carried away with our ability to keep “the car well-oiled and serviced and sparkling clean” so to speak, and are solving problems that needn’t be solved at the expense of those that should. What point better and “smarter” phones, when our relationships are breaking down and divorce rates are going up? We have trouble communicating with and understanding each other, and we’re busy making it easier to speak, text, or tweet.
However, there’s a reason why we’re like this. The Divine Intelligence that permeates us and all that we see didn’t make a mistake by planting in every individual the desire for heroism, while letting us create a society that is dead against it. The reason for that is simple. We’re able to walk only because there is friction between our feet and the earth we walk on. Movement is possible only through pushing against a force that resists it, and only when we push against a resisting force, do we learn our lessons such that they’re never forgotten. If discovering and manifesting our deepest potential were easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything at all. And if it’s the reason we exist, there’s got to be a formidable force set up against it, which must be overcome.
Individually too, if living the courageous and superlative life of a hero were easy, there would be no joy in success. The whole journey of running into opposition, failure, criticism, and doubt yet persevering makes success that much sweeter. It creates the stories that inspire generations, and keep the world running. There would be no Mahatma Gandhi if there were no British Raj, and Martin Luther King wouldn’t still be remembered if the society that created slavery didn’t exist.
And so it’s important for those of us who aspire to live a fulfilling life, one in which the potential that we hold within us has fully come alive, to remember that the world and people around are meant to be the distractive forces that they – sometimes despairingly so – seem to be. They are the frictional force that we push against and learn to walk. They’re the rules of the game of life, the boundary and the court within which the game must be played and mastered. Without the rules, restrictions, and opposition, where’s the game?