Compass of the Times 203

Compass of the Times 203

Living Through the Time of Trials

Keiko Takahashi

Paradox of Life

Immediately after New Year, a second declaration of a state of emergency was issued in 11 prefectures including the Tokyo metropolitan area in Japan. This put restrictions on people’s lives and caused difficulties in the operation of many businesses and stores.

This year, 2021, the momentum of the coronavirus crisis does not seem to cease, and we will be continuously tossed around by its influence.

In such a situation, no-one has the choice but to face various hardships as they are swayed by the reality that is out of our control. 

We all seek pleasure rather than pain. We feel that joy is more desirable than suffering, and we want to have fun and joyful times rather than live through difficult and tough times, if possible. All human being are born with such feelings and desires and they are quite natural.  

However, no matter how much we humans desire, there are things that cannot be obtained just by being in a circumstance that is favorable, joyful, enjoyable, or fun. We cannot experience the true pleasure of life merely by being in that situation.

This is because, in many cases, it is the time that we are in pain or suffering, rather than the time when we feel pleasure or joy, that our lives truly deepen and evolve as human beings.

When we suffer or are in pain, we are moved to no longer repeat our usual way of life. We are called upon to find a new way of life that is more fundamental and that brings new solutions and creativity.

There are times when realities appear that we do not want and we wish to avoid them. However it is only at such undesirable times that we, as humans, develop our lives and evolve to radiate a special brilliance. What a paradox that is!

In other words, we cannot live our original life if we are only in the  pleasurable, joyful, fun, or enjoyable situations that humans always seek.

Life = X × Y

Many things happen in our lives. To put it simply, our lives are characterized by the manifestation of X factors (pleasure, joy, and benefit) and Y factors (pain, grief, and loss) in a jumble.

As I mentioned earlier, we all tend to welcome X and do not want to face Y if possible. The greater the number of X factors and the fewer the number of Y factors, the happier we are. Conversely, the fewer the number of X factors and the greater the number of Y factors, the more unhappy we become. This is how we think.

In other words, many people unconsciously live their lives with the sense that “X is good, and Y is bad.”

But is it true?

No matter how much we want to attract X and keep Y away from us, our life does not allow us to choose X or discard Y as we wish.

To begin with, there is no such thing as a life with only X or only Y. 

Our lives are complete for the first time only when we have both X and Y.

Life is created by the multiplication of X and Y. “Life = X × Y” is an unchangeable law.

We are given the growth and evolution of ourselves in times of suffering and ordeal. This means that what actually exists at the core of our lives is the Y of life.

The way we face the Y of life determines the depth of our life and the dimensions of our life.

Living Through the Time of Trials

Those who open their eyes to the paradox of life and awaken to the law of “Life = X x Y” begin to live life with a different sensibility than when they live with the sensibility of “X is good, and Y is bad.”

They try to listen to the calling in every situation so that they can find the clues leading them to a new way of living, a new resolution and developing creativity in adversity. In the midst of difficult situations, they will begin to move toward new approaches and take on new challenges.

Solely in the midst of trials we will sense for sure that we are invited to live in a way we have never lived before; only then will we try to respond to it. We are now beginning to acquire the power to live through this time of trials.