MLK Interpretation

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - MLK

It can be easier to smile, laugh, say and do nice things when everything's going our way.  But that happy go lucky state of being is very tenuous, subject to change the moment things stop going our way.

Unless we've trained the mind.

Losing our balance of mind when we meet with what we don't want can be a waste of precious time.  The more time we spend wallowing in any resentment that might arise, the longer it takes to arrive at a resolution.  The trick lies in not letting the initial reaction stick (if steeped in aversion).

Say we go to pick up a catering order just hours before the event.  We arrive, the associate looks for our order for some time, returns, then apologizes, informing us that the order isn't there.  It's very natural for disappointment and stress to arise, but we're aiming to be supernatural, in that we're training ourselves to transcend habitual reaction. In this example, we could lash out, yell at the employee, demand to speak to the manager, cause a big scene, and stew in our misery.  But what a waste of time and energy!  Our coarseness might even burn a bridge between ourselves and the associate, severing their willingness to go the extra mile to satisfy our needs.  Then, in addition to losing time in seeking an alternative food solution, we'd be carrying the resentment with us to the party, regurgitating the story to one guest after the next, leaving us unable to enjoy the event itself.

Instead, practicing mindfulness, we recognize the changes that arise within the body and mind on account of encountering the unexpected.  Watching them objectively, we can turn our awareness toward relaxing the body, then relaxing the mind through the breath.  We carefully choose our words and actions in order to reach our goal, letting go of the disappointment, perhaps not even making mention of what had transpired, unless we're celebrating the happy ending,  sharing how everything worked out.

It's in these instances, when we're challenged, that we can truly measure our growth along the path of transformation, from being led by the base impulses of the mind, to guiding the mind and our lives in the direction of the peace that arises through understanding.