A traveller sets out early one day on a long journey with the hope that it will be through pleasant and verdant pastures. The day is still young and the sky clear. The crisp landscape lies before him as if painted with the light strokes of a brush. But as he proceeds he suddenly realizes that he is losing his way, and after a while finds himself in a desolate and arid area bereft of pastures and trees. The scorching sand is beneath his feet and the blazing sun above, blinding and choking him. The lonely tracts of the arid sands haunt him and the hoot of the owl frightens him. He despairs and is frightened that he may have to pursue this journey forever. But as he moves forward, the sun goes down and his senses come back to him.

Who is this traveller and what is this desert through which he moves? I am the traveller, the human being, the pilgrim of eternity in my sojourn on Earth. The desert is the wheel of samsara–the life of births and deaths which seems never ending. There are times when life was too big for me, when all things conspired to frustrate, obstruct and destroy, and I felt that I had lost my bearings. I felt lonely and lost deep within me. In such a situation, experience taught me that I can only pick up and keep moving with faith and courage even though I may not know where I am going. But as I moved on, the sun did set on the scorching sands, due to some collected merits of the earlier births, and my faith and confidence gave me a feeling of relief.

Each one of us is a weary traveller who is tossed in the sea of samsara, and during our sojourn on Earth we must strengthen our faith in the Lord.

Faith and doubt are the two sides of the same coin. The flame of faith sheds light upon our life, enriching it by bringing true understanding, while doubt sheds uncertainty through life, creating misunderstanding and unrest. In moments of doubt and despair, it is faith that sheds light and comes to our rescue. This flame must burn every moment, especially as we move forward in life, radiating beautiful positive qualities and helping us to walk without fear or doubt.

When the problems of life take the better of us, we seek consolation and help from outside and forget to look within. “Have faith in God and in yourself,” were the magnetic words of Swami Vivekananda, based on the conception of the Divinity in man which should help us to tap our faith within and enter into the inner realm of life where the Atman resides.

In life we realize that as we have faith in ourselves, we bring the outer material world and the inner spiritual world together. Strangely, the outer material life then becomes more beautiful, acquiring a grandeur that is influenced by the inner spirituality; and we in turn become calm, peaceful and steadfast–attributes that make one truly beautiful.

Thus, when sorrow and misfortune, fear and depression come our way, our faith in God and in ourselves should not waver. There are no chance happenings in this world. It is our karma working itself out. During the dark moment as we cross the scorching desert tracts of our life, genuine faith is the greatest reformer which accomplishes miracles. Therefore, instead of rebelling against these adverse odds, we should try to convert them into benefits, from evil into good, which will make the process calm and peaceful.

Mrs. Sivanandini Duraiswamy, 60,is the coordinating secretary to the Minister of Cultural and Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka.