From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

William cannot help but see his future in a bleak way. His mind is constantly worrying. When he is at work, he worries about his personal matters. When he is not working, he worries about his work. He constantly pictures himself suffering in the future. For a single subject, he will imagine how things can go wrong in a number of ways. When asked why he worries so much, he often justifies that by thinking about the things that can go wrong, he can prepare to face them. But pressed further about how he prepares to face them, he goes blank.

We have been trained to worry from young. Parents cannot help but to instill fear in their children to stimulate action especially when their examinations are approaching. Creating fear in them seems to be the fastest possible way to solve the problem. We do not have to keep this habit. In almost all cases, the thing that we worry about never happens. 

In the rare occasion when it does, it is never as bad as it we picture it to be. Even then every event has a positive twist to it. The negative event may seem bad at the time but we will see the positive side of it when we look back upon it a few years later. Whenever, I catch myself creating an imaginary future suffering, I will stop and breathe. I tell myself that I will deal with actual problems, not imaginary ones.

This does not mean that we do not take precautions but we do so objectively. For example, if we are concerned about a project at work, we sit down and intentionally focus our attention on the project and plan our next steps. This is planning. Worrying is not planning. If you are concerned about thefts in your neighborhood, do not keep expensive jewelry in your house. These are objective decisions made without any negative emotions.

To allay one’s worry, one may look to astrology and other means of fortune telling. Personally, I find that fortune telling tends to strengthen the ego’s hold on me. It does this by creating imaginary future events in my mind. Be it good or bad, either way, it disturbs my peace of mind. For example, when the fortune is good, it strengthens my craving for more and destroys any contentment I have in the present. When it is bad, it creates worry.

That is why MG Satchidananda said that a practitioner should not rely on astronomy or fortune telling but develop a mind of equanimity. He wrote, “A yogi prefers to cultivate equanimity and willpower, come what may. Over reliance upon astrology makes one a slave to one’s karma, through fear and self-fulfilling prophecy. The right use of ‘will’ coupled with reflective insight and yogic discipline is generally a better use of one’s energy and intelligence. One learns to master each situation as it comes. A yogi seeks to surrender to what may come, to purify himself of desires, preferences and fears, and so become a perfect instrument for the Lord. “Not my will but Thy will be done,” allows “the jiva to become Shiva” ultimately, as Divine Grace descends in the form of Self-realization and other siddhis.”

However, this does not mean that one should ignore warnings and advice provided by spiritual masters. Nothing happens by accident. If one have the good fortune to receive such warnings and advice, one should follow them. There is nothing to lose. But after all the necessary precautions have been taken, we rest in equanimity and in the spirit of surrender. We tell ourselves that we will face actual problems as and when they arise; not imaginary ones.

The main argument for reliance in fortune telling is that one can prepare for any bad situation such as financial difficulties. However, why should we only prepare when we are expecting bad fortune? Why don’t we just live simply and have a generous heart so that whatever happens, we will not be severely affected. Even in the aspect of health, just prepare by eating healthily, getting enough rest and perform hatha yoga exercises.

There is no better preparation than devotion and surrender to the divine. We do not limit ourselves to our mind and body. Divination is only in respect of this mind and body. They are our tools. We are not our mind and body. It is like spending time to check the fortune of our cars to figure out when they will breakdown etc. It is a waste of time. It is better to maintain the car the best we can. Any issues that crops up in the future can be addressed then and there, not now.

We are not our mind and body. We only use our mind and body to interact with this world of duality. The self is only one entity. Our families are only small parts of the big family – the universe. It is better that we spend the time meditating and spreading thoughts of love and peace throughout the universe than to worry

We sometimes turn to fortune telling in the effort to protect our loved ones. Again, there is no better protection that our own spiritual practice. We are also benefiting our loved ones in our practice. Concentrating on our practice is the best preparation we can make for our loved ones. Don’t be distracted by fear. Trust in the divine and let us rid ourselves
of the doubts that confuse us. The Divine is with us. There is nothing to fear. Enjoy the peace that we now have. Let us not let anything take that away from us.

When something bad happens, know that it will not last. After suffering, only joy can arise. Accept both with equanimity.

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