“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.” ~ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
“We cannot control what emotions or circumstances we will experience next, but we can choose how we will respond to them.” ~ Gary Zukav
“There is a divine purpose behind everything – and therefore a divine presence in everything.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
“Non-attachment is about not being attached to anything – including non-attachment itself.” ~ Peter Merry
I must apologize if there are mistakes in this post. Shortly after I wrote this rough draft I had to go to the ER with severe abdominal pain which turned out to be gall stones. Needless to say, my preparation for this week’s post was delayed. Thanks for reading anyway.
Ideas fascinate me. I’m kind of an idea collector. I pay attention to the ideas in books, movies, TV shows, what my acquaintances, family and friends say. When a new idea comes my way, I love to pick it apart and examine the many layers that it expresses. Throughout the years, I’ve made connections from one idea to the next and sometimes the pattern blesses me with a deeper understanding of one or more of those ideas.
Last week I posted a quote, “There are no victims only volunteers” that our friend John Berger stated years ago in a small group meeting. One of my readers didn’t agree with the quote. I completely understand why she didn’t. We’re taught that the world happens TO us and all we can do is react or respond. On one level that is true on another level I believe that we have a hand in what happens to us, kind of like the sacred contract that Caroline Myss writes about in her book of the same title. Our soul knows that what is written in the contract is there to help us grow, if we choose to do so. However, our ego selves sometimes balks at this.
See what I mean about ideas? Since that last paragraph may be baffling to you, let me make it more personal.
In the ‘90s my husband and I were restless and felt constrained by the church we’d grown up in. The story is rather long and involved, but it ended with our seeking a deeper spiritual connection elsewhere. There were several of us in our home congregation on the same journey. John Berger was one of them. We were all reading the same authors, M. Scott Peck, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Gregg Braden, and many more. We even attended a new thought church together for a time. That’s where I came across the notion that what we call reality isn’t reality at all. It’s more like the quote from Shakespeare about all the world being a stage and all the men and women merely players. The idea was that if we can understand that there is a much larger plan for humanity throughout the ages than just being born, living and dying, then we might be able to see that we volunteer to participate in events so our soul can help us gain wisdom.
I have to admit this idea that I volunteered for all the things that happen to me was disconcerting. That meant I would have to take responsibility for my life on all levels. On the one hand it was nice to believe that I had volunteered for the good thing that happened, but not so much the bad. I mean, who deserves for bad things to happen to them right?
Yet I contemplated that idea, and one related to it, “nothing matters.” How could nothing matter? What was the purpose of being then? What was the purpose of going through the motions of living?
As I approached my fortieth birthday I got the answer in an unusual way. Every month I went to my naturopathic doctor for chiropractic treatments. During the one right before my birthday he and I were talking about what it was like to turn forty. He was only three months older than I. He told me about the skiing trip his friend had gifted him. They had gone up to Mt. Hood where they used to ski when they were both younger and had fewer responsibilities. The experience could have been a disaster. Their equipment was old and kept breaking making skiing impossible. When he told me how they had laughed in spite of the fact that their ski trip had been ruined, I got it. In fact that’s exactly what I said. “Oh, I get it now!” He asked me what I was referring to and I told him that his story helped me see that no matter what happens to us, it is neither good nor bad. It’s just what happened and we are the ones who put a value on the event. He got it too when I said, “You and your friend could have been bummed about the broken equipment but you weren’t you both decided to have a great time being together not matter what.”
From that moment on it was as if I could see the dividing line between our ego reality and our soul reality. Not long after my epiphany, there was a terrible earthquake in India. Many hundreds of people died and I could see that all those people had volunteered to be a part of that event. Something about their suffering and deaths affected all of humanity in some way. I couldn’t say exactly what we could learn from it, except perhaps to have empathy and care more for each other, but I was sure there was a much larger purpose to the event than I could see with my ego eyes.
Of course, there were some people who thought I was the complete opposite of empathetic because I wasn’t wallowing in tears and sorrow. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sad about what had happened, it was that I saw an eternal plan at work.
From that moment on when disturbing things happen, I see them from that dual vision. When I lost my beloved job teaching drama, I knew I was meant to go down different path than one I had been on. Was I hurt, angry and vengeful? Oh you bet. I was encouraged to sue the school district for age discrimination because I had just turned fifty years old. But what I’d learned on my fortieth birthday stuck. To bring a lawsuit would be trying to stay stuck instead of moving forward to the future my soul was trying to get me to see. Deep down I didn’t want that. I have never wanted that. I’ve always wanted to evolve, so I gritted my teeth and found a new teaching job to put food on the table until I could heal enough to be able to be open to the messages about what I was supposed to learn. Losing that job led me to a job teaching English, which led me to realize that my true purpose was to be a writer. And here I am today writing about important life lessons.
I know some of you won’t understand the concept of what the Buddhists call non-attachment, which is what “nothing matters” and “there are no victims only volunteers” has to do with. To me non-attachment to events leaves me open to hear the voice of God leading me ever closer to my purpose.
Trying to practice non-attachment isn’t easy and doesn’t take the pain out of the bad things that happen to me. It just gives me hope that there is a larger purpose to it all.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016