I recently, in a moment of faux-spiritual overload at the Bali Spirit Festival wrote: ‘Enlightenment?? How about let’s just start with not having reactive tantrums day after day – or enjoying 24 hours of the luxurious abundance we’ve been born into without ruining it with endless worrying and complaining? Could you?
Let’s try a week of never once painting our predicament as some victim scenario or focusing on the ‘version’ of the events where we frame life as unfair or unjust to us?
Could we maintain a perspective of gratitude and optimism for 7 full days?
Enlightenment?? Give me a break‘
Yes, I was feeling a bit self-righteous. But I also mean it.
Someone wrote underneath:
‘Nice idea. Abundance? How can a dying,starving child in Africa consider his abundance?????’
Well…I wouldn’t challenge such a child to be grateful for their abundance, only us pampered Westerners on facebook…but…
…one possible answer is that the experience of being a human is two-fold – we might be both a ‘soul’ and a ‘human ego’ which is having a finite life at the same time. Both could be happening at once. From this perspective, when a human suffers, from the earthy ego place it is pain but from the simultaneous soul place it is learning, even grace. There seem to be (at least) 2 planes of reality running alongside each other. Duality, upstairs and downstairs. This doesn’t mean that in the face of terrible suffering you only run upstairs and say ‘that’s perfect!’ – that would be escaping and denying the simultaneous suffering which is going on for the human but neither do we stay only downstairs and say “no no no this is totally wrong!” – although faced with much of the World’s suffering it’s an understandable response – the skilful and brave human life is lived with the intention of existing in both planes simultaneously, where we can feel our heart break for the child, feel compassion and a call to action, and even help and give and try and ease suffering down below while at the same time acknowledging that from the soul’s perspective this suffering might be grace, it might be learning, it might be processing karma (not punishment) it might be part of a bigger pattern that we can’t always tune into from our incredibly limited human letterbox view of existence. The above ‘Nice idea. Abundance? How can a dying,starving child in Africa consider his abundance?????’ comment is written from a perspective that can only perceive reality from the lower, letterbox perspective – and yes, when reality is only viewed from that one place, and when the human has never been educated or lucky enough to have a glimpse of another possible plane or frame of existence, it’s the only comment you can make, and what I’ve written here will seem like an obscenity.
Ram Dass inspired me when he said (paraphrasing) ‘Right now in this moment there’s a starving child taking it’s last breath, so do I feel sad? Yes. Also in this moment there is a baby being born into a joyful family. Do I feel happy? Yes. Can I hold the fact that both these realities exist in the same moment?’
Could there be more going on that just the human experience of suffering?