The question came in the course of a very interesting discussion about sacrifice and discipline, the theme of the recent post from Hazrat Inayat Khan. “People get terrible shocks in their lives. Doesn’t the Spirit of Guidance ever teach with kindness?”
It is true that we all get unpleasant surprises and difficulties, and it is also true that we can learn from those blows if we have the right attitude. But is every stroke that falls on our back given to correct a fault? And does the Spirit of Guidance ever offer a gentler form of training?
When two hands clap together, it is their opposition that makes the shockwave of sound. If someone throws a bad word at another person, the shock comes from the reaction against the word and the feeling it conveys. But if the target of the abuse is indifferent, if that person has risen above caring about such a thing, if they shrug their shoulders and let the remark roll off, then there is no shock, and the abuse goes nowhere–only leaving a mark on the one who threw it. From this we can see that our reactions to events in life can show us everything we need to know about our condition, and the knocks and blows of life can be very instructive.
But being willing to learn doesn’t mean that the blows will stop. The world of manifestation is one of borders and limits, and therefore we will always run against a rock, no matter which direction the wind is blowing. For example, our physical bodies are subject to imperfection and illness; if we develop some disease, we need not see it as a sign that we are spiritually deficient. Perhaps we can learn from the illness, yes, but it is not necessarily a punishment for our ‘defects.’ Although we are often our own worst enemy, not every difficulty in life is a consequence of our shortcomings.
And then coming to the other part of the question, whether the Spirit of Guidance ever teaches with kindness, with gentleness: here it is a question of our attitude. In truth the rain of love and mercy and compassion is infinite and never stops, but mostly we are unaware of it. If we would open ourselves to be aware of the constant blessings offered to us every moment of our lives, we would learn, in a Divine flash of understanding, all that we needed for our whole life.