Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Hardest Thing in the World.

They say when you are told that you are dying there are five stages you go through; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I don’t know how comprehensive that is but it will do for our purposes today.

It seems to me that the hardest thing in the world is accepting that God is intimately involved in even the slightest detail of our existence. Even those of us who have no doubt concerning God’s existence -and I am one of them- have difficulty believing that God’s attention to us and to our lives is focused down to the most superficial and forgettable event. Most would think that God is somehow more actually present in the moment of our prayers and our trials than during our visits to the bathroom or chatting on the phone.

Wherever our eyes move, whatever activates our thoughts, all of our judgments and resistance to circumstance are a particular dealing of God with our souls. Our reactions to every condition and problem are all part and parcel of the process of learning one thing; that God is the essential reality of our existence. Everything that happens to us is designed to awaken us to this fact.

For those who have come a greater distance in understanding, life is not the same as it is for the general population. For those, there is the more or less intermittent awareness of ‘cooperative engagement’; Buddha’s, angels, demons and sundry move among us daily in human garb. They are not ‘always’ in the particular form in which you may encounter them. They have been known to look through someone’s eyes, perform a particular action and then go, leaving the participants no wiser in the aftermath. Then again, in some rare cases they are fully resident most times. We’d be better off thinking of our bodies as a house, a car or a horse rather than the entirety of our being, which it is surely not.

We are all in one of these five stages concerning the reality of divine presence in our lives and we will assuredly pass through all of them. When Christ said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” he was speaking of this.

It is pointless to ask why God permits all that we have seen and heard of because you cannot interrupt the stream of life and identity, the totality of life’s intentions by a single segment. Life goes on, life moves on, even if life seems to have disappeared. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It makes me smile when I observe people reasoning out life’s meaning according to the narrow bandwidth through which they perceive and reason. If conditions here were the ‘be all and end all’ of life it might make some kind of sense to rail against the seeming injustice; loss, outrage, pain and suffering and the lot. This is not all. And if you think otherwise you are in one of four of those five states I mentioned.

Do you want to live a more fulfilling life? Learn to consciously cooperate with and learn from the events and results of your every encounter; no matter how seemingly mundane. Yoga, provided you can learn it from someone who understands it, is a process directed at this. There are many forms of Yoga that one might not identify under that name. Yoga means union, or- yoking or joining to.

For those who are bounced like pin balls in the maelstrom of existence there is the certain evidence of a mind in separated defiance to divine will. You can go along or not go along but you won’t influence it. You will only alter your degree of suffering. Some sleep much more deeply than others. The events needed to awaken them can be harsher than that of a light sleeper. Surely, across the vast reach of time, enlightenment is your destiny. Do you wish for such a length of instruction? Don’t be like a dumb beast that is beaten into the direction it must go... and you will surely go.

We truly see through a glass darkly. In the outer world, the various, larger identities of politicians and world figures; artists of all stripes, celebrities of birth and wealth and relative beauty appear to hold a magnetic power in the minds of those who perceive them. They seem to possess more value and significance. But these lifetimes are themselves only an instruction for those living them and those observing them. They have no lasting meaning. They are important in a way entirely different than that which we give them.

Bruce Springsteen is there because he wanted badly to do that. Those who appreciate him wanted badly to hear that. But everything he was and said emerged from divinity blowing air through a flute constructed to make a particular sound. The spirit of God sings through everyone but sometimes it carries a tune. It was the interaction between Bruce and God that got the flute and the life to that point. We, the actor, are the vehicle through which the expression comes. We are each no more than a flute. We are just a pack of cards, the same as the cards in Alice in Wonderland.

There are moments when we are in serendipitous engagement, when we see a certain something in the eyes of another; in the eyes of a dentist, or a clergyman, or someone we encounter on our way that changes our course. There are moments when we know we are experiencing the hand of God in our affairs. These moments, although exceptional in our perception, are just those times when we were objective or focused enough to perceive it. It is happening ALL THE TIME. Sometimes we see and feel the magic and sometimes we don’t but it is ALWAYS happening and there to be seen and felt.

There are moments when we feel a compelling attraction, when we fall in Love. Certainly there are larger reasons for this specific encounter but that reaction is possible in ALL our encounters. This is why some used to intentionally embrace lepers. We all need to get past the aversion thing; the resistance thing. It’s all part of us. We should be grateful to those who have given us evidence of a depraved existence; the alcoholic in the alley, the whore on the corner and we should always be charitable in our contacts with them. There but for fortune you go and indeed, that is you. That is you coming or you as you were once. The casual generosity of the moment does not go unnoticed. Prayers to the advantage of another are always heard.

Everyone you see and hear of is engaged in the same process as you. Each of them are handling it with a lesser or greater degree of success. Practice watching others with this understanding. All failure is but the failure to respond in a divine manner to circumstance. There is no other failure that has any meaning or consequence. No avocation or employment matters except this. This is ‘job one’.

Surely we should read the scriptures and those evidences left behind when God played a particularly well designed flute. Surely we should behave according to what we have learned from our errors. Certainly we should aspire to a deeper understanding at all times. However, all of the yogas and disciplines and passionate intensities of which we are capable come down to this same thing. We need not ever practice any of the formalized routes. We need not be concerned with anything we might miss in the vast libraries of human record. We can succeed by only accepting that ‘everything’ in our lives is connected to our progress to the same place. Whether you are blessed with high intellect and awesome talent, or whether you are unschooled, unlettered, unconnected and unknown does not matter. A conscious desire for union and a willing acceptance that everything works toward it will suffice in every respect. Brother Lawrence wrote a little book called, “The Practice of the Presence of God” and all you need is the title.

We are not what we think ourselves to be. The events of our life are not what we have interpreted them as. It is the hardest thing in the world to allow and to cooperate when appearances war against this method. Our Star-Wars defense system needs to come down. Like anything, our efforts will be increasingly successful only to the degree that we persist. It says in the Bhagavad-Gita; “success is speedy for the energetic.” How much pain do you require?


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I checked back in. You've been showing up later than you usually do and this time you stayed away longer too. This is a super example of focused writing. I don't know how you do it but I am awful glad you do.


Anonymous said...

I read the Brother Lawrence book years ago and it impressed me with the same points you make today. Good work!

Anonymous said...

This essay could be aptly titled "The Handbook For Life". You hit the high points and don't waste time with all the b.s. As usual, to the point and powerful.

By the way, I thought you did great on Meria's show. I listened to it in the archives. You speak much like you write...very articulate, clear, and genuine sounding. It was good to hear you.


Anonymous said...

The usual spotless elegance.


Anonymous said...

Great work Les.

Anonymous said...


Thank you.


Braja Rani Devi Dasi said...

hey les!

wheh i began reading the essay i was wondering if i was dreaming, you never start your essays like that. you had me fooled.

plus i checked it after a long time so it was more of a surprise.

glad to see that the essay is just what i needed to read.




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