By Nayaswami Narayan
November 19, 2017

“Oh, I’m so sorry the elevator did not work for you!” I was apologizing to a woman who was confined to a wheelchair. We had spoken on the phone a few days before and I assured her the elevator in our plaza was in service. For whatever reason on that Sunday it malfunctioned. Since we had already started our service, no one knew she needed help downstairs.

She left a voicemail letting me know what happened. I felt horrible as I was so sure about the elevator. Without any tinge of complaint she said with calm understanding, “That’s okay. It wasn’t meant to be. I’ll try again.”

To be sure it worked the next time, I checked with our property manager and they fixed the elevator. I called her back to let her know she could come the following weekend. She came and the elevator worked! She never complained, or said anything about it.

My new friend’s even-mindedness inspired me to go on a complaining fast. Dharmadevi and I started together this week. We had some fun moments. “I noticed such and such…not that I’m complaining.” We also joked to each other, “I’m not complaining, I’m observing.”

Now rather than complain, I do my best to abstain! As Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita, “To you, who are free from the carping spirit, I shall now reveal wisdom sublime.”

In addition to abstaining from the nay-saying tendency, we also need to add in positive motivation. Remember Indiana Jones left the bag of dirt and took the gold. So leave your complaining behind and feast on the gold of gratitude. Since we are coming up on Thanksgiving, you could think of this as a complaining fast in exchange for a gratitude feast!

Why can’t we be grateful under all circumstances? Paramhansa Yogananda tells us how to resurrect the hero within and overcome discouragement and sorrow through these words:

Tears and sighs on the battlefield of life are the liquid cowardice of a weak mind. Those who give up the fight become prisoners within the walls of their own ignorance. Life is nothing if not a continuous overcoming of problems. Every problem that waits for a solution at your hand is the religious duty imposed upon you by life itself.

There can be no life that is not full of problems. Essentially, conditions are neither good nor bad; they are always neutral, seeming to be either depressing or encouraging because of the sad or bright attitude of the mind.

When the individual sinks below the level of circumstances, he surrenders himself to the influence of bad times, ill luck, and sorrow. If he rises above circumstances by the heroic courage that is in him, all conditions of life, however dark and threatening, will be like the blanket of mist that disappears with the warm glance of the sun. The sorrows of the normal man are not inherent in the conditions of life. They are born out of the weaknesses of the human mind. Awaken the victor in yourself, arouse the sleeping hero in yourself, and lo! No sorrow will ever darken your door.

–Paramhansa Yogananda from How to Have Courage, Calmness, & Confidence