Obstacles and Opportunities
The Greatest Opportunity We Shall
Ever Have is the Fulfilment of Present Duties
Weakness overcome is strength,
ignorance dispelled is knowledge,
obstacles surmounted are opportunities.
Human existence, according to the average conception, consists in a ceaseless flow of varying events, in a constantly changing array of circumstances, which each man classifies as good or evil, as favorable or unfavorable, as obstacles or as opportunities, according to whether they seemingly further or hinder the attainment of the particular goal upon which his heart is set.
The natural result of such a conception is an incessant struggle to seize opportunities and to avoid obstacles, and man calls this the “struggle for existence”. A struggle it is indeed, and a hopeless one - as long as any distinction is made between favorable and unfavorable events and circumstances, as long as such a basic misconception is held in regard to the meaning and purpose of human existence.
If this is a Universe of Law, then whatever events and circumstances a man is facing, are the exact result of causes set up by him : they are nothing more and nothing less than the means, and the only possible means, for him to consciously experience the nature of his actions, and thus gain first-hand knowledge. Events and circumstances are merely self-created lessons which make it possible for man to ascend under Law the various grades that go to make up that great School of Self-learning which we call human existence.
To recognize that this must be so is comparatively easy for anyone who has come to see the inherent reasonableness of the teachings of Theosophy in regard to the absolute universality of the Law. But to actually realize that this is so, implies far more than a mere intellectual understanding of Law - it implies complete self-identification with the Law.
If any events or any circumstances have still the power to affect us as “bad”, as “unfavorable”, as “obstacles”, we have yet to learn the ABC of Life. We may mentally recognize that Law rules the Universe, but we have still to realize its rule within ourselves.
If present events appear to be obstacles, if present circumstances seem unfavorable, if the fulfilment of present duties is felt as a hindrance, there is something wrong - not with our present duties, but with our conception of duty; not with present circumstances, but with our use of any circumstances; not with present events, but with our attitude towards all events.
Do we believe that some events are favorable and some unfavorable? If so, both favorable and unfavorable events will forever cloud our true Power of Perception. Do we imagine that circumstances are a matter of good or bad luck? If so, we shall ever remain the slaves of circumstances, and fail to realize our Divine Power of Choice. Do we regard Duty as something enforced upon us from the outside? If so, our every duty is bound to be an obstacle, preventing us absolutely from arousing the Spiritual Will. Do we think that Life is made up of obstacles and opportunities? If so, we shall go on forever grieving and rejoicing, rejoicing and grieving, instead of learning from both - learning to realize the meaning and purpose of human existence.
From the point of view of the Soul, there is only one real obstacle, and that is our failure to see in whatever befalls us a lesson to be learned - and therefore a golden opportunity to grow in strength and understanding. Would we gain knowledge, without dispelling ignorance? Would we acquire strength without overcoming weakness? Would we have opportunities without surmounting obstacles? Weakness overcome is strength, ignorance dispelled is knowledge, obstacles surmounted are opportunities; to learn instead of to enjoy and suffer is Wisdom.
The greatest opportunity that we shall ever have is the willing fulfilment of present duties, the right use of present circumstances, the cheerful acceptance of present events, regardless of whether they seem favorable or unfavorable. The greater our difficulties - the greater the opportunity to become stronger, wiser, and therefore more useful members of the human family.
Life does not consist in a succession of obstacles and opportunities, but whatever comes to pass is either an obstacle or an opportunity according to what we make it. To turn seeming evils into powers for good is the beginning and end of Wisdom.
 Not necessarily. In fact, one must share the karma of other individuals, and must share the human and planetary karma, too. Karma is much less “individual” than it seems, therefore. All beings interact all the time, and new karma is being planted at each moment by them. New injustices occur every day that are not the necessary result from anything of the past. Circumstances are often unjust indeed. Yet karma will correct every injustice, and each undeserved suffering will be compensated, if not in the short term, in Devachan and in future lives. (CCA)Obstacles and Opportunities
The above text appeared at “Theosophy” in its edition of July 1932, pp. 394-395, with no indication as to its author. An analysis of its content and style indicates it was written by Mr. Garrigues. On the criteria used to identify texts by this author, see the article “Life and Writings of John Garrigues”, which is available in our associated websites.
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