Are we puppets moved by some divine hand? Is our every thought and act already planned? Or are we independent souls able to make decisions and create our own destiny? Or is the truth found in a merging of these two opposites? In this Chapter we will investigate some possible answers to these questions.
CAN BOTH BE TRUE?
We are conditioned to believe that opposites cannot be true. The new discoveries in modern physics force us to accept the possibility that seemingly opposite concepts like void, consciousness, energy and matter are united and connected at some level, and that time and space are relative to the view point and velocity of the spectator. In the same way, the concept of fate and free will may be simultaneously true. On the one hand, it is obvious that we think, make decisions and act accordingly, and thus move voluntarily towards certain goals. There seems to be a relationship between effort and result. We decide to become a painter,or lawyer or engineer, or musician or salesman and we make the effort and we become one. We decide to get married and have children and we do so. We decide to stop smoking or loose weight and we do so. These decisions involve discrimination, will power and effort to move towards a goal which we have decided. Thus there seems to be free will. On the other hand, many of us make decisions which we are not able to fulfill because of various events or circumstances in life. Some may not even have been given a decision. They may have been born very poor, blind or paralyzed or in a minority group in a hostile environment. Their choices may be few if any. Others make choices but are never able to fulfill them because of various «accidents» and natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, drought, fire or man made disasters such as economic depression, violence or war. Others loose a loved one very early in life, or suffer a car crash or disabling illness which greatly limits their freedom of movement. Ten people make the same effort toward the same goal such as starting a business, getting married, making money, having children, raising their children harmoniously, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to dance, or to play a sport, or to relax, or to meditate etc. But these ten people, although they have made the same effort in terms of time and dedication, do not have the same results. Some have met only with failure while others found it quite simple and easy from the beginning. Still others proceeded with varying rates and differing degrees of success. Since they made the same effort, what is that factor which has limited some and helped others? What is that factor which has made one born blind and the other see, one materially poor and the other materially rich, one weak and sickly and the other full of strength, one quick to learn music and the other stone deaf, one predisposed to happiness and the other to depression, one to the arts and the other to the sciences? What is this unknown factor which seems to have so much control over our lives? It seems on the one hand that we have free will to make choices and to strive to fulfill them. If we sat and did nothing, we would starve to death, and we would certainly not develop along any lines. We would become stagnant physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Yet our efforts are not the sole factor which govern the results of our efforts. What is this other factor?
This invisible factor is, for the most part, the past. You will remember that our past is recorded in a morphogenetic field which is a subtle field of energy and consciousness which gives birth to our physical body and to our material, emotional, and mental reality. This field, or causal body, is the cause of our mental and physical forms. It is not the creative cause, but the forming cause. The creative cause is spirit, or God, but this morphogenetic field molds and forms this spiritual consciousness as it is projected through the field onto earth dimension. That is what we call incarnation. Thus, as long as we are identified with and attached to this physical form and the ego, the present is never actually the present. The present is shadowed by the past. It is as if we are moving into the future with the past chained around our legs obstructing our free movement. In some other cases, however, our past may be a positive helpful factor in the efforts.
THE CONCEPT OF REINCARNATION
We are left, however, with some basic questions. Where do these past impressions or tendencies come from? How could a man born blind, or paralyzed, or poor, or seriously ill, have acted wrongly or sinned before his birth? How can Christ’s words «He who lives by the sword will die by the sword» be true, since we see many innocent men, women and children who have never acted violently, die apparently unjust, meaningless, violent deaths at the hands of others? Yet some of those who have lived violently harming others live on into old age without problems? How can we understand this? Since all are God’s children, how is it that one is given greater abilities or talent at music, dancing, mathematics, business and some are given very few, if any, abilities? What is that factor in God’s judgment which makes one «lucky» and the other «unlucky»? Or is there perhaps no such thing as luck? Perhaps God does not involve himself in the process; but we create our talents, «luck» and misfortune. Over and over again in the New Testament Christ uses parables to make people understand that they must use and develop their abilities, that they must become productive and creative or else they will loose whatever abilities they have. In the parable about the fig tree, which did not produce fruit, and in the parables about the servants who are given a certain amount of money (talents) to see how they will use them, we are made to understand that we create our future and develop our talents and abilities and that if we do not, we will loose them. There could be a variety of answers to these many questions: I can only give the one which seems most logical to me. The most reasonable explanation I have heard until now is the concept of reincarnation. The idea that the soul does not really die when it leaves the physical body, but eventually returns again creating a new human body, so as to continue its evolutionary process towards union with God. This concept explains so many otherwise unexplainable phenomena. There is no space to discuss that here, but those who are interested can refer to the book “THE MYSTICAL CIRCLE OF LIFE” by the same author. Since probably 80% of those reading this text are likely to be coming from a Christian background, it would probably be worth while here to say a few words about reincarnation and Christianity. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. I love Him. I am grateful to Him, His teachings, His life, His example and His sacrifice for our sake. I try to see Him in each person and in each situation. When I need to make a decision, I try to think, what would Christ want me to do in this situation? However, I do not reject other spiritual leaders. I accept them, I respect them. I learn from them. I am grateful to them. But my Spiritual Focus is Christ. I feel absolutely no conflict between my Christian focus and my belief in reincarnation. After reading and studying the New Testament cover to cover a number of times, I cannot find any sentence which says that there is no reincarnation, or that the soul did not exist before this lifetime. On the other hand there are many phrases which can be interpreted as inferring the concept of reincarnation. In the last analysis, however, it is not important whether one believes or not in reincarnation, but whether he acts with love and unity in relationship to his fellow man.
LIFE IS A SCHOOL
The following models may help us understand the balance between fate and free will. No model, however, can be perfect in its attempt to describe a reality which is actually beyond time and space. Every model will have flaws, but each will help us to understand this enigma in a different way. The first model is that of a school. When we first go to school we have no choice about the subjects we are going to study. We do not even have a choice whether to go to school or not. We must start in the autumn and finish in the fall, and must study exactly what we are told at each point along the way. We have no freedom of choice, no free will. As we grow more mature, we are allowed to make decisions as to when we want to study and what we want to study. There are still limitations. We still are required to study, but there is greater flexibility in choice and timing and we can even change our choices occasionally. Life is the school. We spirits incarnate into the school of life. A lifetime is like a year at school. In our earlier incarnations, as souls with little experience on the earth level, we are forced to incarnate at certain times and to take certain basic lessons concerning how to function on the earth plane. As time passes and we become more capable, more spiritually evolved, we have greater freedom of choice concerning how we are going to proceed. Our eventual goal of self realization and reunion with God is fixed, but the way in which we are going to approach this destination is variable, and each takes a different route. In school, however, our freedom to choose among professions and lifestyles depends on how much we have studied and worked in the earlier grades. Our past performance limits or enhances our choices in later years. In the same way, our performance in previous lives and in the past of this present life limits or enhances our freedom of choice in the present. If we have behaved in an egotistical way or have done nothing to develop our inner abilities, then we will have limited degrees of freedom in this life. Thus, not everyone has the same amount of free will. Some are more limited by their past than others. This will depend partly on their past and partially on their way of thinking today, and also the degree to which they are really conscious or whether they are functioning mechanically based on past or childhood programmings. If someone chooses to be a doctor because his father was one, or because he is programmed to feel secure only if he has a lot of money, and not because he really loves to be a doctor, then his choice is not made of free will. It is a mechanical choice made through social programmings. Thus, each person experiences a varying mixture of fate and free will based on his previous actions, his present attitude, his will power and the degree of his freedom from his childhood programming. It must be remembered that even the factor of fate is self created and not the will of some other power.
LIFE IS LIKE A MOVING CAR
Our life is like a moving car which has a certain direction and momentum, depending on its speed and weight. If the car is moving very fast and has a large weight, it will be difficult to change its direction. If we do not have a good hold over the steering wheel we may not be able to change the direction of the car in the case that it might be headed for danger. If we cannot see clearly, we cannot steer the car effectively so as to avoid obstacles, and arrive where we want. We are like the car. Our body is like a car’s body; our energy body is the engine, our mind is the steering wheel, our higher self is the driver and the spirit is the owner of the car. Most of us have little control over where our car is going because the driver (the higher self) is asleep, undeveloped. Thus, the steering wheel is unattended and is turning at each bump, moving downhill along the path of easiest motion. We follow the senses, avoid whatever requires effort and lose control over where we are going. We seek after the superficially pleasant and avoid the unpleasant, even though it may mean greater joy and health in the long run. We lack discipline, discrimination and willpower. The momentum and direction of life is controlled by our habits, our ways of eating, acting, thinking, reacting and feeling. These are fixed and heading us in a certain direction. If we like that direction, then every thing is fine. But if we do not like it, if we would like to change the way we are eating, the way we are acting, living and thinking, and cannot, then we have no free will. Why? Because we have no will. Two factors determine how much free will we have, how free we really are. One is how much spiritual discrimination we have. That is whether we can see the road clearly, whether we can distinguish what is really beneficial for ourselves and others in the long run. Discrimination means being able to understand what has real value and what does not. For example, whether we are going to give more importance to money, personal possessions, sensory pleasures, professional and social recognition, or whether we will give higher priority to love, unity, to helping others, to self knowledge and to spiritual growth. Discrimination means having ability to see far down the road, understand where it is leading to and being able to decide whether that is really where we want to go. The second, will power is having the ability to turn the direction of the steering wheel once the discrimination has determined where we really want to go. It is being able to change our way of thinking and living so as to move in a new direction which is more in line with our real inner desires. Without discrimination we are spiritually blind and cannot see the road. We have thus no control over where we are going. We have no free will. Without will power, we have no strength to make changes in our life direction. We have no free will. Thus whether or not we have free will depends on the development of our spiritual discrimination and our will power.
A GOAT TIED TO A POLE
Imagine a goat, or a dog if you like, tied to a pole.This animal has a certain degree of freedom depending on the length of the rope. If the rope is long he can move about quite freely. If it is infinitely long, he can go just about anywhere, if he does not get it tangled up. If the rope is short, he is limited to a very small degree of freedom. We are like that goat tied to the tree. We are born into this life with a certain length of rope. That length is dependent on how we have lived our past lives. If we have lived very selfishly or if we have lived a lazy life without developing our abilities and our knowledge, then our rope will be short, we will have few talents to start off with, we will learn slowly. If we have harmed others, then we will be chained as it were to certain experiences such as abuse from others, hardships or illness which are the result of our past negative actions. Thus, our freedom of choice in this life will be limited, at least until we mature and begin a process of spiritual growth and self development. Then we may release ourselves from certain past limitations and lengthen our rope. If, on the other hand, we have lived lives of love and service, helping others; if we have developed our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual abilities, then they are already developed when we are born, and we do not actually learn things from scratch in this life, but rather remember what we have already learned before. Thus things come easily to us and we feel free to move in the various directions which interest us. Thus, our past actions are responsible to a great deal for the length of the rope. The other factor is our degree of inner strength and self acceptance, our lack of fear to move on into new directions. If we do not believe in ourselves, then we shorten the rope. If we fear failure or rejection, then we shorten the rope, and we are fated to live a limited life. We are not limited by some other power, but by our own fear, our own lack of courage and self acceptance. We are limited by our own ignorance of our true limitless nature. Today is tomorrow’s past. Today we have the power to change the future. Free will does not exist in the past and neither does it exist in the future. The present point in time is the only power we have. I am free if at this moment I can free myself from my limiting beliefs, if I can free myself from my habits and my mechanical nature and lengthen the rope of my destiny. I am free if I can get free of my ignorance and resulting desires and addictions which cause me to ignore the golden rule and harm those around me, and thus shorten my rope. When I harm, my rope is shortened. I may even find myself in jail, in which case my free will is greatly limited. (In some extreme cases one may find the rope around his neck). Let us decide to work on lengthening our rope daily by developing ourselves emotionally, mentally and spiritually and living a life of love and service to others. In this way we will regain our freedom of movement which we lost as spirits incarnating in matter.
OUR COSMIC BANK ACCOUNT
Most of us have had some experience with a bank account. We make deposits and withdrawals. As long as our deposits are greater in sum total than our withdrawals, then we have a positive balance and can use our money to move around freely. The more we have in our account, the greater the degree of freedom to try out new things or to journey etc. If, on the other hand, we make more withdrawals than deposits, our bank gets upset with us. Not only do we not have money in the bank in order to move about, but we owe money; and people are pressuring us to pay them back. Thus we are forced to limit our expenses, do less and perhaps increase our hours of work so that we can make up what we owe and pay it back. Our freedom is limited. If this continues for large sums of money or long periods of time, we might even find that they come and take our belongings or they might even put us in jail. Then we have very little freedom of movement. Thus, our relative freedom of movement depends on how we manage our bank account, on the relationship between our deposits and our withdrawals. The same relationship is true between our free will and our «Cosmic Bank Account». Our cosmic bank account is a record of all our thoughts, words and actions. It is also a depository of all our efforts, improvements, talents and abilities which we have developed, as well as everything we have learned. It is another way of describing the morphogenetic field or the causal body. Our deposits are our selfless, altruistic thoughts, words and actions; and our efforts to develop and improve physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our deposits are all our efforts to develop spiritual discrimination and will power. Love is our greatest deposit. Our withdrawals are our selfish thoughts, words and actions, the harm we have done to others, the hours we have wasted in laziness, our lack of self development, and our failure to develop discrimination and will power. Hate, anger, bitterness, jealousy, fear and selfishness are all withdrawals. A major factor determining whether or not we have free will, depends on the state of our cosmic bank account. If we come into this life time carrying a large deficit, then we may have to make deposits continuously without making withdrawals in order to balance our account so that we can eventually move about more freely, and perhaps even start receiving «interest». For example, if we came into this lifetime carrying a large deficit in our account concerning love; if we were very selfish and unloving in the past, we may need to give love selflessly for many years before we will actually begin receiving love back. Others around us may give much less but receive much more from the very beginning. Their account may be more positive than ours. We may come into this life with a large deficit in our account concerning self improvement and self development. Thus we may need years of effort to learn to relax, or meditate, or stop smoking, or loose weight, or overcome our emotions of fear, anger or guilt. We may not make as much progress as someone else whose «discipline account» is very positive. They may have worked on this aspect of themselves more, just as we may have worked on some other aspect more than they. That doesn’t mean that we should forget about trying to discipline ourselves. It means the opposite, that we need to work more than the others on self discipline until we eventually balance our cosmic account and start having the results that we want. Sincere effort and patience will be required. It appears, then, that we are free to make any efforts we desire in life towards any goals which we value. Our freedom of choosing and trying is not limited, but the results which we will obtain are limited at least temporarily due to the inertia of our past. Thus we might say that many of the events which happen and do not happen are a function of the past, but that how we react to them in the present is our free will. We can resist the events which our cosmic bank account sends us (our monthly balance sheet, which arrives, however, on a second to second basis). We may reject an event believing it to be a mistake or an injustice. We can doubt the fairness or the intelligence of the Cosmic Accountant. We can blame him for not dealing fairly with our account. We can become depressed, feeling weak and helpless, a victim of unjust supernatural forces, believing that what has happened to us is the result of the whims of some playful or unjust God. Or we can realize that whatever happens or ever will happen to us in our life will always be in exact harmony with our cosmic bank balance. We can trust that the cosmic accountant knows what he is doing, and neither punishes, nor gives rewards, but simply tallies our account; and we are paid (or not) accordingly. Thus we can accept what has happened until now as exactly just and correct. We can ask for guidance as to how we can react to these situations in the most effective way so as grow spiritually and improve our account. We can accept each experience as an opportunity for self knowledge, grow and self improvement. Thus it may have been fate that my loved one would leave me, or leave his body, But it is my free will to react positively or negatively to this. I can become angry, fearful, hurt, depressed, and, in general, negative towards life. I can search to find someone else immediately so as to cover up the hurt, insecurity and fear which I feel. I can turn to tranquilizers, alcohol or various other chemical substances to drug my mind and ease the pain. Or I can use this experience to realize that life in the physical body is temporary and fragile; that I cannot really depend on someone outside myself; and that I must develop my spiritual nature, my faith, my concentration, my self mastery and proceed in my spiritual evolution. Thus life is like a game of cards. The cards we are dealt by the cosmic dealer are our fate – a fate however which we have created through our previous thoughts, words and actions, as well as our present beliefs. How we play those cards is our free will. Play them smart and you will get better cards in the future.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM WHAT IS HAPPENING?
According to what we have said this far, these various life events are exactly what we have created by our own past actions and present thoughts, words and actions. On the other hand, they seem to be exactly what we need in order to continue our growth process as souls in a process of evolution from a lower state to a higher state of consciousness. It is more effective to see these events as possible learning experiences rather than some form of punishment. Rather than seeing them as something that we must pass through in order to «pay for what we have done», we can see them as opportunities which life is offering us so that we may grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually more mature. As mentioned previously, in every situation we have various choices as to how to react. We can react with fear, or with denial, with aggressiveness or with some type of escapism. Or we can react by searching for the inner strength necessary to overcome the particular problem. Our freedom to react positively or negatively to a particular event will depend on our freedom from our own fears, attachments and beliefs about our own weakness, or about the dangers which exist in the world around us. Thus we see again that our «free will» is totally dependent on the degree to which we have developed our freedom from our own programmings and emotional mechanisms, fears and expectations which force us into becoming robots incapable of even conceiving alternative reactions to certain stimuli. We have «free will» only if we have worked on developing that «will» against our own mechanical and habitual, emotional, mental and physical functioning. This freedom can be achieved through self analysis and serious spiritual effort.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM AN ILLNESS
Illness is one of those «fated» events of our lives which seems to be at times related and at other times unrelated of how we live in the present. Even those who do all the “right things” physically and spiritually sometimes become ill or suffer from accidents of some type. Thus it is something about which we can have some control, but is not within our total control. We could hypothesize that an illness in most cases has something to teach us; either about what we are doing which has created the imbalance which is called illness or about attitudes or powers which we can develop in facing it. Let us look at some examples of what we might learn in confronting an illness.
1. We may learn to change our diet.We may discover that the way we are eating is causing our body (and thus also our mind) to loose its balance or vitality, and thus it is necessary to change our dietary habits. These changes then may serve to help raise the overall vibration or quality of the body and mind so that it becomes more sensitive to higher spiritual energies, qualities, powers and truths. Thus our overall evolution is enhanced through our reaction to the stimulus of the illness.
2. We might learn to stop, relax and create a more harmonious life rhythm, which is neither overactive nor sluggish. This reassessment of our routine and our level of activity will benefit all aspects of our lives including our mental abilities and relationships. Thus the illness comes to teach me about harmony and rhythm; something which I may have ignored until now.
3. Our negative thoughts and feelings such as worry, fear, bitterness, self pity, jealousy, anxiety and weakness or inability are known to play an important function in determining the degree of resistance the body and mind have to illness. Thus we may be forced through an illness to observe, analyze and change negative emotional and mental habits so that we can get well and stay well. This change in our thinking patterns then leads to greater emotional, mental and spiritual maturity.
4. An illness is often humbling. Some of us need this lesson in humility. We can often get an unnaturally high opinion of our body and mind, believing that we are in some way the center of the universe or that we are more worthy or more important than the others. Having a small microbe which we cannot even see knocking us flat on our back helps us change our perspective. The need to accept help from others and the realization that this body is only a temporary and a fragile reality creates a clearer perspective of our place in the universe.
5. We can learn to accept love and caring from others. Some of us are programmed that we must only give and must never receive. We believe that this is altruistic; but it can also be very selfish. We may not want to be put in a position of owing something to someone (which is an indication of a feeling of separation). We may feel that we must always give more than we receive so that we can be «better» than the others, or worthy of their respect and love. Thus, through an illness some may learn the lesson of «receiving gracefully», or the lesson that they deserve love and acceptance even if they cannot offer something back to others in that particular situation.
6. An illness may force us to stop activity for an extended period of time. This quietness may then become a stimulus for deeper thought about life, what we are doing, where we are going and if that is really what we want. Many of us get caught up in a life style based on the needs during a past period of our lives. Although, as the years passed, our needs have changed, we have not taken the time to make the corresponding changes in our life style. Thus, illness often offers an opportunity to stop and think more deeply about what we want from life and whether we are moving towards those goals effectively.
7. Many systems of positive thought projection have been developed and taught over the last years. These mental projection techniques have successfully created cures and recovery from the wide range of physical problems from arthritis and high blood pressure to cancer. Thousands of people all over the world in the last decades have been motivated to learn how to channel the positive powers of mind and spirit out of their need to cure themselves of an illness or solve some problem. However, regardless as to what happens with this illness, this new positive mental power remains as a newly acquired mental ability. Many people would never have had the incentive to develop this mental power without the stimulus of the illness.
8. We all need to take a more active role in creating our health and happiness. Few people realize that they themselves are totally responsible for their health, happiness, harmony and success in life. No one else can give these to us or take responsibility for these. No one else can create our health or happiness. This is our responsibility. An illness may be the only way in which we can realize this and the only experience which will force us to finally take an active role in creating health, happiness and harmony for ourselves.
9. Often illness is an opportunity to examine and reassess our values in life. This is especially true when that illness brings us to the realization that this body is only temporary and that our days here on this planet are limited. This new perception of life causes us to examine more deeply the purpose of life and thus the purpose of our own life and how we want to live it. Many people have had life changing experiences through a serious illness or a near death experience.
10. When there is intense pain accompanying the illness it becomes an opportunity to learn to deal with pain. One way to deal with pain is to disidentify with the area of pain. When we put our attention elsewhere the pain message does not overwhelm our consciousness. When we can experience the separation of our consciousness from our physical body then we can transcend the pain. This ability and experience then become an important asset in our spiritual growth process; which is basically to realize our conscious existence as independent from the physical body. This reality is now being scientifically investigated in near death experiences where people leave their bodies which are often clinically dead, and yet are totally aware of what is going on or being said. Their consciousness is functioning independently of the brain, nervous system and senses.
11. Many people turn to God when they have problems. It is unfortunate that we have to have problems in order to feel the need to contact such an important aspect of our reality as the creative and sustaining force of all that exists. We are still quite superficially oriented and usually need a serious problem to force us to look at things more deeply. Thus, illness may be the stimulus which will cause someone to come into deeper contact with God and develop that relationship more seriously and consciously. This, then, hopefully becomes a habit which continues after the problem subsides.
12. Surrender, like active effort, is a quality which man needs to learn and master. There are moments when we need to master all our energy and abilities and try to change or correct something. There are times when we also need to learn to surrender. Most often we need a combination. We need to make the most intense effort we can while simultaneously surrendering the results up to God or to life. This is the key to life; trying our best, but being able to accept whatever results. This does not mean that we would benefit from seeking to become ill in order to learn lessons. It does mean, however, that, when we do have a problem, it is much more effective to try to understand what we can learn from that problem and how we can go about solving it. That is our free will, the ability to face and learn from the events of our lives. Otherwise we can fear, resent, worry and complain about what life gives us. It is your choice. You can choose.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE
Let us now examine the same question in relationship to separation from a loved one either through a parting of ways or through the leaving of the physical body. Let us take the example of a spouse to whom we have become accustomed, dependent upon and probably attached to. In the case of a parting of ways, that is separation or divorce, what can we learn? If we have done everything that we could to save the relationship, and in spite of that we pass through the experience of separation (at least temporarily) what can we learn?
1. It can be an opportunity to examine our behavior and our beliefs about ourselves, and the other, and about relationships in general so as to determine how we may have contributed to this disharmony. There will surely be weakness, faults or negative thinking patterns which we can discover, analyze and seek to free ourselves from. Then, in the case that we get back together, or we create a new relationship, we will not make the same mistakes. We will have also grown in our self knowledge and emotional and spiritual maturity.
2. We can learn to love the other in spite of his behavior or his abandoning us. We can learn forgiveness. We can learn to wish the other to be well and happy, whatever he does, however he acts and with whomever he chooses to be. Unconditional love is a difficult lesson but an unavoidable one on the spiritual path. It does not need, however, to be learned in this way. This is only one of the many ways in which this lesson can be learned.
3. As we are left to face life on our own, we will feel a temporary emptiness, and perhaps a fear or insecurity. In such a situation we have various possible solutions. Some people try to find someone else immediately to cover up their inner emptiness and insecurity. Others fall into a depression and retreat from life, sometimes through tranquilizers, drugs or alcohol. But we can choose another solution. We can face the fear of loneliness and pass through it to discover the fulfillment and the power which exist within us. This effort to develop inner strength often starts the person on an inner spiritual search which benefits him on all levels of his life, and of course, in his future relationships where he can now create relationships out of love and not out of need or dependency. One lesson then may be that we can live alone, and that we can face life alone; that we have the power to do so. This does not mean that we would benefit from leaving our present relationships in order to discover this fact. We can learn this while remaining in the relationships which we have presently created. Many more lessons can be learned by improving ourselves so that the relationship can work and be loving and harmonious. However, if in spite of our efforts at improving ourselves and the relationship, it does not work out, then we might as well take this opportunity to face our fear of loneliness and our insecurity and work with them before we rush to create a new relationship.
4. We seek to find security, happiness, fulfillment, affirmation and pleasure by creating relationships with people around us. We sooner or later realize, however, that people cannot really give us these feelings which we are seeking to create. When we have realized this clearly, we may then seek to find what we are looking for through a spiritual relationship with our inner self, a spiritual teacher or with God. People who have passed through disappointments (no appointments – no disappointments) eventually turn to developing a deeper spiritual life, finding within themselves or in their relationship with God that which they were seeking until now in other people. This does not mean that they do not love or care for others, that they do not hope to get something from them, but are satisfied to be able to give to them. They can accept from others but do not expect from others. Then they are truly happy, and can, for the first time truly love the other independently of what the other may or may not do. In the case of the departure of our loved one from his physical body, there are even other possible lessons.
5. Facing death is a difficult and unhappy experience. It can also be the shock which we need to think more deeply about life and to realize that we are only temporarily here; that these physical bodies and all the objects and physical pleasures which we seek after are only temporary sources of superficial and short lived security which we will eventually lose. This does not mean that we should not enjoy life and all the physical and other pleasures that it offers us. It does mean that we need to spend more time looking more deeply at what is behind this physical reality. It means that we would do well to investigate the nature of the human soul,what happens at the moment of death, and how we can live so as to get the most out of life while being simultaneously ready for the inevitable moments of departure, whether it be ours or a loved one’s. The death of a loved one is an opportunity to think more deeply about life, to reexamine our values and way of life, and to give more importance to emotional, mental and spiritual maturity and evolution.
6. When something happens that we do not want to happen, we often feel that an injustice has been done to us and feel angry towards whoever we believe is responsible. In the case of the death of a loved one, we may feel that God is responsible, since we are told that He controls these matters. We can hold on to this feeling of injustice and resulting resentment or anger for years or a whole life time. Or we can overcome this test of faith and believe in the wisdom of the Divine Plan that knows when each spirit has decided to leave its body, and that there are no mistakes or accidents or injustice. If we can develop this faith through this experience, then we can learn to have the same faith in other matters. This ability allows us to remain free from fear of what will happen; for only that which needs to happen will happen. This does not, however, free us from the need to think, analyze, decide and act. It frees us not from action but from the fear or worry about the result of our actions. Then we are much freer to act according to what we believe and feel rather than out of fear of failure or of what others might say. A belief in a divine plan also frees us from bitterness, resentment or anger towards people which may have «harmed» us in the past. Since we cannot change the past, it is much more useful to accept that an event for some reason had to happen, and let go of those negative feelings. This does not mean that we allow people to do whatever they want to do in the present, but we let go of the negativity about the past.
Thus there are many lessons which we can learn from the loss of a loved one through separation or «death». The choice is ours. We can do everything in our power to prevent such an event and it is our free will and responsibility to do so. But if, in spite of all these efforts, we loose the presence of this person in our lives, then it is our free will to react positively and constructively with strength and love; or negatively with hurt, fear and perhaps anger. Each can choose for himself.
THE FLOW OF THE RIVER
Let us take one last example, that of a river flowing from the right side of the page towards the left. This is the river of life, of evolution, the river of the gradual perfection of humanity and of creation. The flow of this river represents the divine plan, the direction in which the process of evolution is proceeding. All beings, human, animal, plant, insect, microbes and even minerals; all of creation, mountains, seas, suns,stars and galaxies are flowing along this river. You and I are also flowing along this river.
Diagram No. 17 THE RIVER OF EVOLUTION
The flow of this river creates the events which we call fate. They are not events which come from some other higher power. They are created by our collective way of thinking and functioning. Our every thought, word and deed creates a disturbance and a movement on this river which is so large that it is like an infinitely large sea moving in a direction. Our collective thoughts, emotions and actions create what we call material reality and the events which we experience. These events are exactly the «stimuli» which we need in order to keep moving along in the direction of the river’s flow. Whenever we move against the flow of the river, it is natural that the river exerts an equal force back at us. If we are clear enough in our perception and thinking, the water’s force will make us turn and start flowing again in the direction of the river. If we try to move towards the banks of the river, again it will continue exerting a force on us until we let go of the banks and continue flowing in the direction we are destined to eventually flow. Our free will is to resist and delay our flow from fear and separateness to love and unity, or to flow freely without resistance and perhaps help ourselves to flow more quickly down the river of evolution. Our free will is to flow or not, to resist, reject, fear and hold on, or to have faith in the flow of the river. Let us remember, however, that the lesson is not always to accept what is happening. Some times the lesson is to find greater inner strength, overcome fear and fight (without attachment or negative feelings) for what we believe. Some times the lesson is to accept more, other times the lesson is to make a greater effort. We must cultivate the clarity and discrimination which will allow us to understand which it is. «Father give me the strength to change what I can, the peace to accept what I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference». What are those actions which resist the flow of the river. Since the river is flowing towards a manifestation of our inner power and of our spiritual unity with all beings, any actions which obstruct these resist the flow of the river. When we act selfishly; when we attach ourselves to external forms of security, pleasure, affirmation or power; when we act out of negative feelings such as fear, hurt, jealousy, anger, hate etc. In these cases we are resisting the flow. How can we move with the flow? With acts which help us get free from our feelings of weakness and need to attach ourselves to the banks. spiritual disciplines; depending more on our own power and not on others; believing in ourselves; acting out of compassion and love; serving our fellow beings who are all flowing along the same river. Developing contact with our inner spiritual dimensions so as to receive power and guidance from within. Faith that the river knows where it is taking us; that we can TRUST in life and what it will bring us in the future, and what it has brought us in the past. That means no feelings of injustice, for the river has given at every moment of our lives exactly what we needed in order to grow (regardless of whether we took the opportunity or not). The river gave to us and is presently giving us simply the reflection of our own thoughts, words and actions; past and present. This means no fear of the future, for it will bring exactly what we need in order to grow. This is also true for our loved ones. It means not worry about them. Life has been giving, is giving and will always give them as souls in the process of evolution exactly what they need in order to keep moving along the river. Remember, our worry does not help them in the slightest. It harms them because we send them the message (unconsciously if not consciously) that we do not have faith in their ability to handle and overcome any difficulties that life may be presenting to them. They get the message from us (regardless of whether we express it or not – it is sufficient just to worry inside ourselves) that we do not believe in their discrimination, clarity and inner power to face life. This does not help them. This means that we can live with an inner sense of peace and freedom. That we can live an open, loving, joyful life. All our worries were illusions based on our previous ignorance. Life is simple, easy, and each of us can be a creative happy and helpful being if he chooses so. Author Richard Bach uses the same metaphor in the introduction to his book ILLUSIONS – THE ADVENTURES OF A RELUCTANT MESSIAH.
«9. And he said unto them, «within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and to sickness, to riches and to poverty, to freedom and to slavery. It is we who control these, and not another.
«10. A mill-man spoke and said, «Easy words for you, Master, for you are guided as we are not, and need not toil as we toil. A man has to work for his living in this world.
«11. The Master answered and said, «Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.
«12. The current of the river swept silently over them all young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way knowing only its own crystal self.
«13. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.
«14. But one creature said at last, «I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go and let it take me where it will. Clinging I shall die of boredom.
«15. The other creatures laughed and said, «Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you troubled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!
«16. But the one heard them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.
«17. Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.
«18. And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried: «See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!
«19. And the one carried in the current said, «I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true mark is this voyage, this adventure.
«20. But they cried the more: all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone and they were left alone making legends of a Savior”.
Each of us is a «messiah» in the making. Each of us is the Divine itself in the process of perfecting its ability to express its divinity on the physical and mental levels. The river will gladly lift us up, if only we have faith in it. Faith in God. That simple formula which we heard as children. After much searching, much philosophy, many techniques, we come back to this simple formula, faith in that One Universal Consciousness which is the cause and motivating power of every being and object. Faith that we are only temporarily here on the earth engaged in a learning process. Faith that we are immortal and can never come to harm, even if we loose our temporary physical bodies. Everything that happens to us, happens to help us. In some cases where we resist, what happens may force us to return to that simple faith («unless you become like these children, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven»). Our free will is to look at these events in this way and thus benefit by the lessons that they contain for us, or to reject, resist and fear thus creating more suffering for ourselves and others. Which do you choose? It appears that, ultimately, our free will lies in our ability to merge our individual will with the Universal Will of the Divine Plan. When we are able to let go of our personal desires and attachments, and desire the greatest good for all, then we merge with the Universal Flow of life which supports and guides us. Our needs (not our desires) will be taken care of and we will experience unity with all beings. Although we still learn through the law of Karma, we have comprehended the laws of Dharma and Love. When we learn to merge the individual will with that Universal Will, the ego is diminished. When there are less ego demands, there is less identification with the body and ego. Less Karma is generated and one gradually becomes free from the bondage of the Karmic restrictions. The choice to be made is between egoism and selflessness. This transcendence of Karmic situations seems to come in stages.
1) We act in order to satisfy selfish needs desiring some result for ourselves.
2) We begin to act seeking results for others.
3) We learn to act with detachment offering all results up to God. Thus, although we act with intensity and sincerity, we are willing to accept any result as exactly what is necessary at the moment.
4) When we act without seeking or expecting any result, we cease to create new Karma.
Remember, we do not give up the action, but the attachment to the fruits of the action.