Why We Must Be Thankful for Difficult Times

by Pulkit Mathur, The Spiritual Bee

Many years ago, I came across a saying in a Chinese fortune cookie: “A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner.” In those days, I was facing some difficult times and so these words bolstered my spirits considerably.

Still later, I chanced upon the same wisdom, expressed in even greater detail in the writings of Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet, whose life was full of intense tragedy. By his own account, death was a steady companion, having lost his wife, daughter and youngest son in quick succession.

But through it all Tagore maintained an unwavering composure and faith in God, and emerged from this painful period, to write the profoundly moving and Nobel Prize winning poems of the Gitanjali.

The lesson to learn, as Rabindranath Tagore beautifully explains below, is that life’s turbulent phases serve an important purpose. They are the nurseries in which the hidden buds of courage, determination, self-confidence and patience can find the right conditions to blossom within us.

Just as we do not become a skilled captain, until we have mastered the roughest seas, so too in life we never truly attain everlasting mental calm and spiritual strength, unless we have overcome difficult times.

More importantly, as Tagore explains below, without having developed such profound inner strength, courage and will power, we are simply ill-equipped for life’s real journey into the infinite – in which each of our souls must traverse through numerous cycles of births and deaths – in every birth, facing unforeseen challenges, learning new lessons and working out old karma – till finally at long last we attain liberation.

A quote about the importance of life’s difficult times by Rabindranath Tagore.

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