Overcoming the Obstacles on the Path of Life
I heard a beautiful story of an ancient village where one day the villagers found a large boulder in the middle of their main pathway. The busy, rich businessmen and merchants had their servants carry them around it. Others simply turned back and returned in the direction from which they’d come, realizing that to try to pass was futile. Others gathered around the site of the boulder to criticize the King of the area for not taking better care of the roads. They stood by as the boulder obstructed passage on the road, condemning the King and his ministers for their laziness!
Finally, a peasant came by who was carrying a load of vegetables to sell in the market. He needed to pass the boulder, and so he calmly put down his heavy load and tried to push the boulder out of the way. However, the boulder was quite heavy. The peasant, though, just kept pushing from different angles and finally the boulder rolled out of the road. As he bent down to pick up his load of vegetables, the peasant noticed something lying in the road where the boulder had been. It was a wallet filled with gold coins and a note from the king. The note said, “This reward is for he who has the commitment to move the boulder from the road.”
So frequently in life we see that the “King” has thrown obstacles in our path. Our natural instinct is to bypass them – using our influence or wealth – or to simply turn around and go a different path. Or, we give up the path altogether, seeing the obstacles as insurmountable. Perhaps we find ourselves criticizing life, circumstances, or the great “King” who is making our lives difficult. Yet, for he who has the commitment and dedication to conquer the obstacle, the rewards are great. Not only will the path be clear, but we will also become far richer (whether spiritually, mentally or financially) by having the tenacity to overcome the hurdles in our path.
Life is not always a clear path. If it were, we would learn very little. Rather, to test us, to teach us, to mould us and to make us stronger God challenges us. He – as the King of kings – places obstacles on our way. And, just like the king in the above story, He watches to see who will have the courage and the commitment to overcome these difficulties.
There is a beautiful saying in our scriptures which says:
Prarabhyate na khalu vighna bhayena nicheeh
Prarabhya vighna vihata virmanti madhyah
Vighnei Punah punarapi prati-hanya manaah
Prarabhya chottam-janaah na parityajanti
This means that there are three types of people in the world. The first type, the lowest on the hierarchy of evolution toward God realization, contemplate the possibilities of failure before undertaking any task. Then, realizing that some obstacle will inevitably arise, and fearing the difficulties inherent in overcoming the obstacle, they decide not to act. Thus their lives pass in vain, and they perform no good deeds at all, for they are paralyzed by thoughts of hurdles which may arise.
The second type of people begin to perform good deeds but as soon as they encounter any difficulty, they turn back and relinquish the task. These people have good hearts and good intentions and they want to perform worthwhile deeds; however, they are unable to gather up the inner resources necessary to overcome any challenges. Thus, their lives also pass in vain, and although they have innumerable projects which were well-begun, they have not even one which was completed.
The third, and highest type of people are those who just keep going, no matter what obstacles they find in their path. They are so committed to completing their duties successfully that they steadfastly remove all hurdles from their way. They are entirely focused and centered on the ultimate goal, and they keep God’s image in their mind, knowing that He is with them and that He will help them achieve their noble goals. These are the people who succeed, not only professionally in life, but also spiritually and mentally.