Are you ready? This one’s gonna be pretty deep.
My students/clients often fall into collections of people that have very similar issues they’re struggling with. For instance, people who have a history of being religious —it doesn’t really matter what religion— often come to me in middle age with a combination of dread and confusion.
By then, people with that history have lived long enough that they know the world includes all sorts of inhumane, cruel and unjust horrors, and this sits uncomfortably with their belief in a good and all-powerful God.
The question is so obvious that little kids often ask it: ‘if there’s a God that is loving then why are wars allowed to happen?’ The lack of a satisfying answer can cause people to question their fundamental belief that the world — and their life in it— is worthwhile at all.
We can come at this issue by starting off by altering the notion of God. Instead of God being a chess-playing, separate being that orders other parts of reality around, let’s just make God be reality itself.
With this idea, none of us can be away from God. We can’t get lost or separated because even we are made of God. Everything’s God. That’s how awesome God is. And yes, being infinite, God includes everything; war and pestilence and death and disease included. And the reason that’s okay is thanks to duality.
Without duality nothing exists. God can’t be aware there is a God unless there is duality. There must be an observer before anything can happen. Someone or something must judge or apply qualities to another aspect of reality — of God.
If the whole world is dark, then there is no such thing as darkness. Without something opposite to compare it to, there is nothing to be aware of. But once we have light we can recognize dark.
Likewise, we cannot have heroism without danger. Nor love without indifference. We cannot even have introversion without extroversion. We can’t have up without down, or hot without cold. This fact of reality means that we cannot have the good we desire without accepting its counterpart — its contrast— bad.
So what is the answer that allows us to feel better and still somehow know God? If we accept the facts above —if we cease to argue with them in our head when they’re encountered— only then we can know peace.
If we accept that a wave needs both the crest and the trough for it to exist, then we can stop arguing with, and resisting the world. That frees up more energy that can then be applied to paying more attention to the crest, while still acknowledging the existence of the trough.
To want the trough not to be there, or to spend time wishing it away is futile. Without it we cannot have our precious crest. It’s not the trough itself that’s hurting us —it’s our thoughts about the trough. If we take the same brain energy and use it to ponder the crest, then you change your life. Boom. It’s that easy.
There’s a lightning storm happening inside our heads and we direct which direction it goes. If we want to feel better then we need to spend time focusing on our good fortune in the present moment. If we do the opposite we will feel worse. It only makes sense.
Accept that duality is necessary before anything can be. Do not rail against aspects of life that are fundamentally necessary to the grand beauty of this world. We are better to accept that with winter comes spring, and live in the moment we are in without protest.
Let us cease to wish for better times whenever we can. Let us not want for more things, or desire a life other than our own. As the Buddha suggests, our suffering is created by our desires. Instead we are best to accept what is and be fully present for its unfolding. Only then will we realize that our lives are just as fantastic and incredible as any other.
We each need to know what ‘psychologically unhealthy’ is before we can choose to be ‘psychologically healthy.’ That’s not a problem if we’re ever feeling things we don’t like. We just don’t want to dwell there by fighting against those feelings or they will last. Our role is simply to accept and then move toward better things as we find them. That is what it is to be wise.
That is what it is to know that we have a large amount of control over our mood. We should surrender our arguments with the necessity of suffering, while always watching for sincere reasons to be grateful. For none of us can have one without the other. But it us up to use to appreciate that we need to be able to see both before we can choose the experience we prefer.
Now let us go and choose and create ourselves an awesome day. After all, why not?
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.