Whether you are rich or poor, you need a lot of strength to be able to go through life. This world is merciless. To live in it you need a heart that is both cold as a stone as well as full of compassion and kindness; one needs to practise two opposite qualities together. On one hand, completely relaxed and on the other completely alert all the time, completely capable. Most people would have experienced that they need to co-ordinate such opposite qualities in order to go through life. But the question is, how does one do this?
Living in the ashram teaches you how, because it makes you come to a point of realization. There is only one basic thing in life worth realizing. You know it, you also believe it, but you have not realized it. It is the fact that the story of your life has already been written out. Everything will happen according to that script; no one, whether your father, uncle or guru can do anything about it. There may be a fraction of variation sometimes. It is said that a great yogi can change the direction of karma, but even he cannot change the basics. Rama was destined to exile. Dasharathas love, Vashisthas advice and not even his mass popularity in Ayodhya could stop that. And Kaikeyi who loved him more than her own son became instrumental in his exile, she initiated it all.
Try to understand this. Everyone knows it, they even believe in the idea, but realization is something else. The realization comes when you live in an environment such as an ashram. The ashram is not anyones home, you wont find your relatives here, you have no connection with the people here. When people come to the ashram, they find peace of mind because they realize the inevitability of destiny. That is one thing.
The second thing that should be realized is that God is watching everything. No one can escape from Gods eyes. You know all your actions and thoughts, whether good or bad, you know everything about yourself. However, God knows even more. Is it not enough that you are before Gods graceful eyes twenty-four hours long, all your life through? Is it not enough to make you happy and grateful to realize that God is always looking at you? If you realize that God is aware of you all the time, you are never absent from his mind or eyes, that itself is enough.
To wish that you should not experience any sorrow, there should not be any death in your house, is absurd. These are laws of nature. You may ask, If God is watching over us, then why did our father die? Such questions do arise in the mind. If God is all merciful, why did my mother die, why do I experience sorrow, why do I suffer from disease? Ramakrishna Paramahamsa suffered from cancer, Shankaracharya died of fistula, Vivekananda had diabetes and Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. There are many such examples. Gods grace does not mean eternal happiness; it means both joy and sorrow. If the season in your city were the same the year round, it would be so boring. Seasons change. You must always remember that seasons change. Rahim says:
Raheemana chupa hvai baithiye, dekhee dinana ko phera
Jaba neeke dina aaihain, banata na lagihain dera
(Rahim says) Sit quietly and watch the changing times,
It will not be long before bad days are repaired.
This is the principle that sages and saints follow.