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2016, Crossing Through Pain

Where Are Those Rose-Colored Lenses When You Need Them?

Hari Prasada Das


When I met a dear friend who came to our monthly Reset program, he was wearing a pair of pink sunglasses that caught my attention.

Now, Rasanath is well versed in my hijinks with the pink sunglasses of yore I used to gallivant around town as an NYU student wearing against the city-lights at night.

That was quite a statement! And Rasanath promptly communicated this to our friend. But I additionally noted that mine were tinted pink with silver arms that extended to my ear, rather than the pink-rimmed and armed glasses with black lenses donned by our friend.

Our friend immediately gleaned that rose-colored lenses can go a long way… Yes, indeed.

I often miss those glasses and try to summon them through the proverbial route.

When you find yourself arguing with your loved ones, unable to locate the time for what you really want to be investing in, insecure around certain persons, uncertain about how to make the future work, and dealing with the weight of the world on your shoulders, who doesn’t miss those rose-colored lenses? Who doesn’t want to just get out and gallivant around town?

The latter may help for some time, but ultimately, we arrive back to our lives. It’s the lenses that help us to see our lives in a different light altogether. And the real thing is hard-fought and hard-won. It’s not a mere momentary shift in attitude.

When I have felt that I’m inadvertently causing trouble to those I care about most, when I’ve felt the aching for a sense of direction in how to grow, I’ve pondered thoroughly how to conjure those lenses again. Only the real thing this time, not just the symbolic air…

And what I see today is that there’s a four-step process to developing the divine vision we crave:

  1. Tolerate
  2. Trust it will be okay
  3. Count your blessings
  4. Fix yourself on a higher goal

1. Tolerate

Someone very close to me passed a kidney stone a few years ago. I told him I could not believe his courage through the wrenching pain. I’ll never forget his response.

He told me there was no choice. He didn’t have to have courage. He just had to not die! If he had his way, he’d have never gone through the ordeal in the first place.

He’s no masochist! (My extrapolation!) He got through it the same way we each get through our wrenching pains. He just didn’t die!

That’s the tolerance that life asks of us, whether we like it or not. It’s a hard fact. But it leads to enormous character if we can modestly go through it without resentment. That is tolerance.

And it is a skill more relevant than anything taught at the ivy leagues… But it comes at an even higher cost, thus we must really invest.

Tolerance is a deep meditation.

2. Trust it will be okay

There’s scarcely a light at the end of the tunnel that tells us: “Hey, the darkness ends here!”

That’s the worst part of going through the dark. There’s simply no sign of light… If we knew for how long we’d have to go through step 1 of tolerating, it would be that much more tolerable! But when there isn’t that light, faith is all we’ve got.

The good news is that faith is a virtue, which truly can move mountains. Talk to anyone who’s ever succeeded at anything great, from the painters of past to the entrepreneurs of today! From a worldly perspective, no one knows better than they the value of steady faith. It’s the difference between the one who makes it and the millions who give up. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that won’t work!”

That’s faith.

And there’s no way around it to get to greatness. The same applies in our moments of darkness, failure, and fear. Reaffirming this deep, abiding trust is an exceptional art.

3. Count your blessings

When we’re feeling bereft, we lose touch with what we possess.
Krishna speaks a mesmerizing verse in the Bhagavad-Gita that stays with me always:

"From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool."

I could never understand what this meant until I experienced it for myself.

Think about the moment you get angry with someone you love. What’s the first thing that happens?

The happy times feel like ages ago! A distant memory. A fading memory. That is actually what’s happening in those moments! Our memory is fading because our minds are bewildered.

The only antidote to losing grip on what we possess is by holding on tight! Don’t let go!

That’s the other greatest secret to success. And to love.

Kierkegaard puts it beautifully: “Love abides…” Simple as that. Love abides…

So count your blessings. It’s the most sacred practice. And within the heart of this practice lies the power to overturn all misfortune…

4. Fix yourself on a higher goal

The lynchpin to all of this is to find your purpose and to stay rooted in that purpose, come what may, hell or high water…

There are no riches in the world worth the price of purpose. It’s the true currency of the heart. And it is intimately linked to love.

A purpose you love is an experience of love. A loved one you love is an experience of purpose. It’s the North Star in the black sky…

It’s the only thing that empowers us to tolerate, trust it will be okay, and count our blessings, along the way.

If it’s all about us, we sink with the ship when the going gets tough. If it’s bigger than us, we can’t afford to go down, for we owe it to love to fight hard. Moreover, it’s not about us anyway, so when we sink, that’s really okay.

We can just tolerate and trust and count away! That’s the true test of what a man or woman is made of. The goal on the altar of the heart. How big and how abiding… Never forget the why…

As Martin Luther King said

“There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

Find what lights you up that offers the deepest benefit to the souls around you and fix yourself on that higher goal with all your might. That will be the Polaris which offers light in the dead of night. It’s the constant in the world without constancy. It’s our immortality in utmost humility.

So when it seems like things don’t add up, there’s no way to win, the pain too palpable, or the uncertainty unbearable, remember those rose-colored lenses, and more importantly, remember how to rightly invoke them for the long run…

  1. Tolerate
  2. Trust it will be okay
  3. Count your blessings
  4. Fix yourself on a higher goal

If you do so diligently, then you’ll truly see, in the way our eyes have been designed to see.

You’ll see that even the seemingly futile serves its purpose and advances you to places you could have never gone prior. In fact, you’ll see this whether or not anyone else has the vision to see it too.

No doubt, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice tolerance. I hope you’ll trust and take stock of what you’ve been given.

But above and beyond, the growing and lasting empowerment behind these otherwise isolated and austere actions in the heat of the moment is your ability to get fixed on that higher goal.

As cutting-edge organizational thinker and remarkably successful Christian leader, Andy Stanley, says, “your mission should be written in pencil; your vision should be written in pen…”

In other words, how you execute to achieve your vision is an ever-evolving process. But your vision itself must be so deeply anchored in you, something so absolutely worthwhile against the test of time, that you can be unflinchingly devoted, always, and in the heat of the moment.

What’s your vision that will bring you to life in rose?

Hari Prasada Das

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