Step Out To Step Up

posted in: English

By Achyut Gopal Das
Don’t live the same day over and over again and call that a life. Life is about evolving mentally, spiritually and emotionally. -Germany Kent
We all have our own comfort zones which we don’t want to leave. Why? Because life is very predictable and set according to our convenience. “Why should you leave all this to embrace a life of risk, unpredictability and inconvenience”, reasons the mind. This may be true but it also true that life without challenges is not life at all – it is just survival. We are born not to survive but to thrive. Thrive means growth and growth means the growth process. And the growth process is always not easy but the result is always amazing. 
Just like a caterpillar goes through a struggle to come out of the cocoon, but that struggle, that growth, transforms it into the most beautiful butterfly similarly coming out of our cocoon of comfort may be difficult but the fruits are exceedingly wonderful. Or just like when we climb up a stair, we move onto the next step by leaving the previous step, similarly in order to escalate higher in life we need to relinquish the previous, comfortable step and move onto the next. As it is rightly said – Only those willing to leave comfortable shores discover new lands and only they are recipients of glory.

Believe me, real life begins outside our comfort zone. But the problem is – we don’t experience the truth of this until we agree to step out. In our science lab we know that result comes after the process but in the life lab we expect result before the process. This is neither fair nor scientific. We just need to have a little faith and give it a try. It’s natural to be a little nervous when making a change, that’s just the part of the growth process. Once you understand this the mind becomes a little peaceful and cooperates with you. This whole process becomes much easier when you understand that the only difficulty in this journey – is the FIRST STEP. Here are few examples that may inspire you to take that first step out of your comfort zone into a new exciting world of challenges and fun. Stay put. 

The first example is that of Devaki and Vasudev, the parents of Lord Krishna. In their previous life as Pṛśni and Sutapā they underwent great sacrifices and austerities to get the boon of having The Supreme Lord born as their child. The Lord being pleased with their sincerity of purpose agreed to be born as their child in their next life. Their story of struggle doesn’t end here. In their next life as Devaki and Vasudev, they had to face more difficulties and tolerate all the atrocities inflicted on them by Kamsa. They were put in jail, tortured and had to see all their six children being mercilessly slaughtered by Kamsa. They knew at the bottom of their hearts that all these inconveniences had to have a great purpose and were willing to play their part. They wanted to give birth to Krishna not only for themselves but for the whole world. Their logic was – “If the whole world is going to be benefited by their hardships, they were ready for it.” Because their purpose was broad they were blessed with a broad heart. The result – even after 5000 years, people still remember both of them with immense gratitude. 

Lord Krishna, as if inspired by the selfless example of His parents right from His very birth lived a life of constantly moving out of comfort zones. The day He was born, He left the secure company of His parents to enter a new place, Vrindavan to reciprocate with His devotees there and to kill the demons sent by Kamsa. When He understood that His mission in Vrindavan was done, He left that most relish-able and dear place to return to Mathura to help in the administration there. He killed Kamsa, but did not occupy the throne, He handed it over to Ugrasena. 

When there was need of His services in Hastinapur, He at once left His palatial comforts at Dwarka to help Yudishtira get his rightful throne. And interestingly when Yudishtira was crowned as the emperor of the world, Lord Krishna didn’t wait to enjoy the comforts offered to Him, He moved onto His next responsibility. He is not only the God of love, God of beauty but the God of challenges and fun too. That’s His greatness. Lord Krishna through His life is showing all of us that if He who is the Supreme Enjoyer can lead a life of responsibility than we too can. There is no reason why we can’t. 

The best example I can think of in recent times which shows the power of stepping out of comfort zone is that of Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-acharya of ISKCON. At the ripe age of 69, when people plan to retire, he left the most comfortable and holy land of Vrindavan to go to foreign country without any contacts and without any money to start a worldwide mission to spread the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita world over. Now, that’s super ambitious and super daring. This is the peak of stepping out of comfort zone. At an age when one can’t handle his own body, he left to handle the world.

How did he get the courage to take this bold step? Because he had such deep compassion for the world, for the suffering of others that he couldn’t stop himself from taking this step. He was fully convinced that he had the solution to the problems of this world and felt responsible to share it with the world. It was that natural for him to make that decision to step out of his comfort zone. Because he made this sacrifice, the Lord reciprocated with him by making him and his movement a grand success. Now, 50 years later ISKCON movement is growing and growing stronger by the day, with thousands and millions of people’s lives being transformed. What would be the fate of all these people had Prabhupada not taken that risk. You see, when he was taking that step out of his comfort zone, he didn’t know if he was going to be a success or not, similarly we will not know how much impact we can have in the lives of others until we take that first step. Remember, that by taking our step out we may or may not be a success but if we don’t take that step we will surely be a failure. In other words – There is no bigger failure than being stuck in our comfort zone.

I could keep going on and on, giving innumerable examples both from ancient times and contemporary times of people who made a deep impact in this world but to keep the length of this article short, I would like to stop here and summarize. In all these examples one thing is common – When you feel bad about seeing the suffering of others and feel impelled and responsible to make a difference, then stepping out of your comfort zone is effortless. 

When Jatayu saw that Sita was being kidnapped by the demon – Ravan, he essentially had two choices to make. One, be a mute witness and do nothing because he was too old to fight Ravan and the other was, to fight Ravan knowing that in all probability he would die fighting him. He made the second choice because he knew that it was better to die fighting for the right cause than to be a silent spectator for the wrong cause. Even though, Jatayu lost the battle against Ravan, he won the battle of life, won a place in the heart of Lord Rama and a place in the hearts of millions of people for generations to come. Similarly in our lives, we are not meant to be just silent spectators, we are meant to enter the game and play our part and play it well. The world needs our light. It’s time to shine, time to STEP UP and STEP OUT. 

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