It was only 6:00 AM and the roads were already covered with snow. I was slated to present at a conference in New York the next morning and my flight was at 3:00. The weather channel said the storm would be over by noon, but Delta had canceled several afternoon flights already. I thought of […]
‘Twelve adults and children were killed when a gunman opened fire….’
‘I am leaving you for someone new.’
‘The cancer has spread to the bones.’
Life is hard. People disappoint. Bodies are designed to fail. The difficult and painful cannot be avoided. If the definition of happiness is loving what is, to be happy, you have to make peace with unacceptable circumstances. Grit and resilience are helpful for swimming through troubled waters but don’t engender peace. Peace and happiness require a larger context; something that explains why bad things happen to good people.
Science offers little. We are born; we live; we die. It is the cycle of life where we are asked to accept our part in the perpetuation of the continuous cycle. Small comfort for the lonely and those who want to know more. Religions fill in the gaps left by science with stories and promises to sooth our anxieties and threats to control our worst impulses. Behave now and later God will reveal the plan that makes all the difficulties and pain make sense. These explanations are suspicious. What kind of God sets up an insane obstacle course full of suffering where nobody can agree on the rules?
Kindness tends to generate kindness but no amount of good behavior prevents unacceptable things from happening. Ask anyone who lives in one of the 49 countries run by a dictator. Life does not necessarily get better for the innocent. Only the sheltered or faithful believe everything works out in the end. Everyone else looks around and thinks, “I don’t think a loving God is responsible for this mess.”
Yet it is possible to be at peace. If our nature is a love that endures no matter what happens to our body or the bodies of those around us, we can accept the unacceptable. We can see life not as a reaction to the whims of a capricious God but a dream where we forgot who we really are. A dream where a God is not punishing anyone. A dream of duality, as a Buddhist might say, where we are separate from the love that connects all of us. We are miserable because we forgot and feel separate from the field of love that connects all of us.
Bodies get sick and die. People will leave our shared dream and we will miss them but they are not lost or in pain. Mediums who talk to the dead consistently report they are at peace and do not wish to return, no matter how violent or premature their departure. They are not suffering.
You don’t have to believe in mediums or God or the Buddhist idea that life is a dream, but to accept the unacceptable, believe in something. Something that does not suggest the crazy things that happen mean you or someone else is unloved or deserves punishment. Something that leaves nobody out.