When life gets topsy-turvy it can be difficult to make sense of it all. This month, Robin offers some deep and heartfelt reflections on the lessons available during personal challenges. We hope they are helpful.
Life Events – Suffering Is Optional
By any measure, October was a personally challenging month. All around me, family and dear friends experienced a series of unwelcome calamities: death, serious and sudden illnesses, terrorism, and a house fire, to name a few.
Each was a shock and several continue to linger as noise in my mind and nervous system.
So why do things like this happen? How does one make sense of bad things happening to good people?
Over the years, through reflections on what I know about the design of the human system, I have found solace and grace in a realization that continues to deepen: there is profound intelligence behind life. Two concrete examples of this intelligence:
- I have found myself in difficult situations and experienced the thinking I needed most in the moment coming through my mind without my volition. I’ve seen the same thing happen for others, too.
- Often things I wanted or intended did not go according to plan. I have noticed in hindsight that it was incredibly wise that it happened that way.
As far as I can tell, the intelligence behind life does not seem to account for or even acknowledge my preferences, but why should it? After all, my preferences are really my ego wanting life to look and evolve a particular way, the way I “think” life should be.
As far as I can tell, life is not designed around our preferences but instead meant to flow in a deep and mostly invisible intelligent way. And if we look or at least orient ourselves to consider this, it becomes possible to see this intelligence at play. For example, the death I mentioned above led to a deep reconciliation of two long-estranged relatives.
Life seems to be designed for us to learn things, individually and collectively. We do not choose what we learn or when, and if we don’t learn the lesson, life simply sends us the message again.
So what emerges from all of this? Well, the lessons have been numerous and overlapping and in some cases, they’ve reconfirmed things I knew but had forgotten. Here are a few:
- When I remember the absolute power of thought it allows me to take my own thinking less seriously, which opens me up to new/different/helpful ideas.
- When I forget that life is inside-out, I suffer in the following ways:
- I fuss and react or feel bothered by things that have little to no real consequence.
- My ability to do what is needed gets clouded and harder.
- I forget to love and cherish the things I have.
- I often forget to be grateful for all that works and is good.
- My humanity and its expression depends on me alone – not others. We all have the capacity to stay rooted in a kind and open feeling, even in the face of “bad” situations or “bad” people.
- There is always a silver lining. Everything works out in the end, despite our desire to judge and assess things before the end.
So, what is there to do? I’ll speak for myself: to go through life awake to how my mind works so I can be as graceful as possible, trusting the intelligence to teach me what I need to learn with an open mind and heart.
When you realize the inside-out nature of reality you can see that there is nothing “out there” that can harm you psychologically. For me, this allows me to feel touched by the grace of life and realize that all is as it should be.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the famous French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher, articulated this more elegantly: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Wishing you much grace and peace.