A day or so ago, I had the following request from somebody I know and respect greatly:
“If you have ever wondered why there is so much suffering in the world and felt overwhelmed by it I would love to know how you moved on from that.”
This lady is going through a great deal of suffering of her own at the moment. I’m awed that she has the time and energy to concern herself about the world’s suffering, when she already has plenty to contend with. The least I can do is to offer her my own response and, given the news items and social media posts we are all seeing at the moment, I thought there might be a wider audience for my reply.
So what follows is very much my personal truth. I’m not suggesting that anyone else should believe it or follow it, but if anything here feels right to you, by all means feel free to adopt whatever sounds helpful.
To start with, this is what I DON’T believe:
- I don’t believe in The Devil or any of the ‘forces of evil’ humanity has enjoyed blaming for its problems through the ages.
- I don’t believe in a vengeful or ‘just’ God who behaves like the worst sort of patriarchal Victorian father, setting up an impossibly high standard of expectations and punishing us for our sins when we fail to live up to them.
- In fact I don’t believe in sin.
- I don’t believe in Karma. In my truth, we are not here to atone for things we or the ancestors did ‘wrong’ either in this life or another.
- I don’t believe humanity is intrinsically bad, wicked, cruel or evil.
Now for what I DO believe:
- I believe that everyone – each single human being – does what feels and seems right to them, given their situation at the time. If they are coming from a position of love, they will give, share, help and benefit the world around them in whatever way they choose. If they are coming from a place of fear or want, they may bully, torture, attack or destroy; they may seek scapegoats (racial minorities, politicians, corporations, the rich, the poor…) to vent their anger and frustration on; they may believe themselves to be powerless and controlled by forces beyond their control.
- I believe we create our own reality. Yes, I’m still struggling with this one. My ego keeps telling me there’s a solid, unchanging basic world here and I’m just a bit-part player who can’t do that much to change things. Other sources tell me otherwise. They tell me the keyboard I’m typing on is almost entirely empty space. They tell me I have complete control over the world I’m living in and that I use my own energy – the power that comes from my thoughts and emotions – to create it.
- I believe that every atom in the cosmos is a tiny holographic part of GOD. That makes the universe a living, expanding, creative, vibrant web of which you and I and everyone and everything else out there is a vital and perfect part.
- So yes, I believe that we – individually and collectively – have tremendous power and are able to form our own reality, by focussing our energy where we choose.
- I believe that ‘I’ (in the eternal soul sense) chose to be born and to have this particular life, with all its attendant heartbreaks, terrors and difficulties, because that’s what being a human is all about – just like the computer game I used as an analogy in my book. We all select a storyline beset with puzzles, problems and difficulties in order to find ways to solve and overcome them, to bring love to them and to expand as the divine beings that we really are. The bigger the problems, the greater the opportunities for growth and expansion – for ‘spreading the love’ if you like. As Kahlil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
- I believe I’m not acting alone; there is infinite help available from the cosmos. Whether we call this help god, goddess, saints, angels, spirit, guides, nature or muse is irrelevant. We can interpret and visualise it any way we like, but it is real and there for us, always and all ways.
- I believe this is tough to grasp and work with, because we’ve just emerged from around 2500 years of giving our power away and expecting others to solve the world’s (and our) problems, while we sit subserviently and wring our hands in despair.
Several people have asked me recently why I don’t feel bitter towards those in my life who have caused me suffering on a personal level. It’s because I know that at some level, I consciously drew those experiences to myself. They didn’t feel good at the time; they hurt like mad. It’s those experiences, though, and the ways I finally found to work through them, which have made me the person I am today. And I haven’t finished growing yet.
So to answer the lady’s question (finally!) I do see the suffering in the world and yes, I could easily become overwhelmed by it, on a personal and a global level. However I can make choices as to where I put my energy. I choose to put it into feeling positive, because that helps to ‘grow’ more positivity. I choose, in my very small way, to spread hope and light and love, because – according to my truth – I am a holographic spark of God and that means I am powerful enough to change the world. So, of course, are you.
PS A dear and wise friend reminded me yesterday of Anita Moorjani’s amazing story. In case anyone reading this is interested, click here for her Ted Talk: Dying to Live. It explains with far more eloquence than I can muster the relationship between life and suffering.