One youngster comes to me very depressed and asks this question "Why is God creating so many difficulties for us? How to handle stress?" I tell this youngster to reflect on this beautiful story:
A man goes to a shop, picks up a beautiful cup and says "my god this cup is so beautiful" and suddenly the cup starts talking to the man. The cup starts saying "O man, I am beautiful right now, but what was the state of my being before the pot-maker made me a beautiful pot?
Before I was sheer mud and the pot-maker pulled me out of the mud from the mother earth and I felt why that pot-maker is so cruel, he has separated me from mother earth. I felt a tremendous pain. And the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me and churned me, when I was churned I felt so giddy, so painful, so stressful, I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me into a oven and heated me up, I felt completely burnt. There was tremendous pain and I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait."
Then he poured hot paint on me and I felt the fume and the pain, I again asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then again he put me into an oven and heated it to make me more strong, I felt life is so painful hence pleaded the pot-maker and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." And after that the pot-maker took me to the mirror and said, "Now look at yourself". And surprisingly I found myself so beautiful.
When god gives us lot of trouble, it appears god is very cruel but we need patience and we have to wait. When bad things happen to good people, they become better and not bitter.
So, all difficulties are part of a cosmic design to make us really beautiful. We need patience, we need understanding, we need the commitment to go through in a very calm and wise way. So, all difficulties are not to tumble us but to humble us.
With this understanding, let us not be against difficulty. Understand difficulty is a part of a purifying process. A purifying process at present which we cannot understand and hence we need faith and we need trust.
Let us understand how to handle stress with this background. You can be affected by stress from two angles. There is an internal stress and there is an external stress. Nobody can avoid stress; one has to only manage stress. Managing stress can be internal and also external.
The internal stress is; your thoughts can create stress, your values can create stress, and your beliefs can create stress, meaning thereby your stress is coming from your mind more from the outer world. Many people suffer not from heart attack – they suffer from thought-attack.
For example, when somebody says you are an idiot, we get so hurt, we get so victimized. My boss has called me an idiot and I am feeling tremendous pain. Now where does this stress come from? If my boss has called me an idiot, I have to ask myself "am I an idiot"?
If I am an idiot nothing to be upset about; and if I am not an idiot, then also nothing to be upset about! It is the perception of the boss. But why do we suffer from that stress? I suffer not because my boss has called me an idiot but because of the thought-attack.
I may say the boss has called me an idiot; therefore I am suffering? It is true that the words are unpleasant. But what hurts is the interpretation of the unpleasant word. The thought in me interprets. That is pain and therefore it becomes pain. Much of our stress is our mind interpreting it as pain. So we suffer from thought-attack more than heart attack.