We live in a world that seems to have an endless stream of chaos, mad governments, injustices, violence, suicides, social imbalance, the rich get more toys, the poor crave basics, really bad coffee and many people see no end to the suffering.
I live on a busy Melbourne street, the other morning a guy was doing somersaults on the road, oddly enough hardly anyone noticed. I wasn’t sure whether to report the event to help keep the guy safe from himself but when I thought it through, logic told me the fellow survived this long without my intervention, so I just let it roll. (‘Scuse the pun)
The Wise Ones
We are very fortunate in our lives, wise people come and go. Sometimes we miss them; if we are alert they become part of our transformation, they leave us gems to ponder, it may be years before their wisdom unpacks. I had a very great teacher. Some people want the sparkly-eyed guru or master in Indian or Japanese pyjamas or dressing gown, to each their own. But I know from experience, often the truly wise pass us by without a fuss, no exhibition of spirituality or devotion, they can touch our lives very deeply. My greatest teacher acted and looked quite normal, it wasn’t obvious, he was understated … when I had a conversation with him about the Dharma or consciousness, I found the mat was pulled out from underneath me whenever I sat chatting with him. Transformation is about our known world dissolving, it has an uncomfortableness about it. Many of us eventually come to the conclusion that our story of the world is not exactly correct, this can be troublesome to say the least, we hold ourselves together because we assume coming apart is a problem. But coming apart is the doorway to transformation.
Dialogue with the Wise
During a conversation with my dear friend he once said to me, “God doesn’t have problems.” Oh okay, yeah right… Embedded in this simple one liner was a healing balm. Obviously if someone doesn’t have ANY concept of a God it won’t mean much and will be bypassed. My childhood God died years ago, the bloke with the white beard and floating entourage keeping a sense of order and handing out door passes into heaven to the good guys and go straight to jail cards, do not collect a hundred dollars and get ready for an experience of hot coals for the others. Fear of God or a negative outcome keeps a lot of people in check. I guess even without a God watching out for any misdemeanours or serious breaches, people would probably still realise that being a dumb-ass wont get them too far in the long run and a sense of natural order will come about. But my viewpoint of God is different, not better, I said different.
My friend said, “God doesn’t have problems.” So do I make him an authority on God? We know from experience many Gods have come and gone, civilisations sunken under the oceans and they buried their deities with them, wars fought over different religious ideologies, crimes committed against humanity while forcing a religious elitist agenda. So God doesn’t have problems?
Religious – Maybe, Maybe Not
I guess I will have to step out of the land of the Gods and come back to myself and attempt to do the impossible, rethink what God might be, temporarily place the mystery into a box and deal with the ‘doesn’t have problems’. We do know religions at times can be a problem and we also know there are many good kind happy religious people; and also there are people without religions who have problems and where as others live beautiful abundant lives as atheists. A healthy minded atheist will ask the right questions, an annoying one has a cult mentality.
I had always in the past referred to myself a religious man; and mind you one who is at odds with all religions, the arrogance of the clergy, their crimes against children, the exhibitions of devotion and flaws within their twisted-to-suit-them scriptures, the holy elitism and superiority complex they have in relation to non believers and outsiders. I will maintain that loosely I am a religious man so I can sort the issue and explain why the gem of wisdom has been so critical in my life.
Lighting up the Shadows
When we have a traumatic or negative experience we generally look at the shadow and this is a very reasonable normal human response. Losing ones wallet, or breaking a leg is never really a fun experience, an emotional reaction is not unexpected. As a rule we don’t question a normal emotional response to an experience unless we are one of those people working on ‘mindfulness’ or some other Buddhist technique. There are people who have had the experience of missing their plane flight and later found out the plane crashed. Or in other situations somebody’s new heart-throb date didn’t turn up but by coincidence they met there future partner instead. There are numerous ‘follow on’ events that come out of what we may originally perceive as negative events. I am not saying we do not need to feel the emotional response to experiences; however, if we see them as transitional and things to ponder or doorways to other experiences we will have much happier lives. Developing a type of thinking that can maintain a sense of balance is definitely a worthwhile quest.
My Response to Trauma
When my oldest boy died, like every loving parent and balanced human being I was broken, confused and also I felt betrayed by my God. How could MY God do this to me? It was a moment when I totally forgot that there was a natural order to human existence and my sense of feeling safe with my imaginary or real God disintegrated. But thinking more broadly life does its thing with or without me and it doesn’t take a University degree to know full well that people come and go from planet earth every minute. If we look from above and I am not saying God is above, if we step away from the small window we look through, lift the whole roof off and see the open sky, our perspective changes. When I look at the passing of a human being it is quite normal to see it as tragic, there is a sense of loss, we hurt, we bang walls, yell, feel abandoned, the ache in the chest is unbearable, we seem crazy, everything is fragile, we are vulnerable. But then if I look through the other eyes from the totality of beings there is not such a problem, nature which we are part of has a way of regenerating, the seasons and people come and go. Look at the pavements or between the stones and rocks, grass and weeds gradually start to appear after a while; when there is stagnant water the rains eventually come and a sense of harmony returns, the clouds pass at will and the beauty of their aloofness is natures poetry.
The Way Out
We often get stuck in a world view that is bordering on self-obsession, attachment to the way we assume things should be, we push against the river of life and tread water. The Tao Te Ching reminds us that the Tao (Way) is inexhaustible. Our exhaustion comes from thinking, when we sort the thinking the actions will come into harmony. We have removed ourselves so far from nature, there are layers protecting us from life; we require a constant body temperature, walls to shield us from the outside, many of us like a tepid world – not too hot not to cold, we quickly run to safe zones when we feel we are out of our depth. And yes there are adventurers who push the boundaries.
Those words “God doesn’t have problems” for me was an invitation to think outside the box that holds the human drama in place, a reminder that even in suffering there is more than that moment going on, the totality requires change for life to unfold, the rising and falling of events on the screen of life are the natural order; and I am not one of these people who believe that we are puppets on a string that some giant God manipulates for his pleasure, that is something I cannot subscribe to, I do not see ourselves as slaves, we are creators. However, there is an underlying TOTALITY that does have a loose unfolding destiny that is not written but it feels its way into forever-ness; as constellations arise and dissolve over eons, the various species of beings adapt to the unending journey of love.
Although my emotional responses are real, valid, very human, the wisdom of “God not have problems” allows me to relax a little, to trust in something that I cannot define but feel in the depth of Silence, and what I see in the stars that scatter the sky like drops of paint on a living canvas…I can step away from the ‘imaginary me’ with its story, its tragedies and feelings of lack and hard done by-ness and when I feel ready, jump out of the prison-house of the known.
Other People’s Gods
And if I changed hats and said there was a God that many others have, one who shapes the destiny of people and engraves it into the palm of the hand and follow His Will, well then I would know still know that I was safe, there was a sense of order that I can’t quite understand or see yet and trust that time will reveal its wisdom. However, I am not that person, that is not my worldview or vision, I will come back to myself and recognise I have choices, there are options in the way I live my life and respond to the passing fortunes and events that emerge out of Emptiness that sometimes surprise me and at other times leave me feeling fragile, inquisitive, joyous and curios.
May all beings in all worlds be happy
May all people live in love
May all suffering fall away
May all beings be free from the agendas of others who lack in compassion