When we are the midst of rejecting reality in favour of suffering, we must remember that, in order to be in a healthy state of mind, it is important for our infinite, ephemeral, spiritual self to fully accept that its participation in the dualistic world is what we came here to do.
Our spirit may plan our trips, but it is our ego that goes on the up and down adventures that carry our spirit along a journey through living. While our ego seeks comfort, our spirit doesn’t bail on a trip just because it’s going badly. Our spirit is here to travel and go places and do things, regardless of the weather.
What this means is that our spiritual self must get comfortable with witnessing the rising and falling of our ego within each of its frameworks. As in the previous example, we will win and fail in romance, at work, with friends, with family, with the public and against nature. This is living.
While our spirits are always safe and powerful and light, what will determine our successes or failures in daily life will depend a great deal on our understanding of the framework we’re in and how well we function within its set of rules and limitations.
That’s what creates the ego world around us: self imposed rules and self imposed limitations. Because frameworks are formed from rules and agreements between us. But only our spirit –our character– can make us follow those. We can choose to not follow any rule or boundary so long as we’re prepared to pay the consequences for that freedom.
For instance, we may believe we can get away with cheating in a relationship, but in the end we cannot offer ourselves that leniency under the framework we’re working in. Our spirit can continue to believe –or even know– that we profoundly love someone, but in the dualistic, ego world, if we can’t convince the other person that we are worthy, then the marriage will fail.
To our spirit, this is not something ‘going wrong,’ that is simply the result of us ignoring the rules that formed the framework that allowed the relationship to work. When our spirit can see that, we are fine because then what happened to us makes a kind of sense.
When we refuse to look at our own responsibilities within a framework then we trap ourselves in needless suffering. We will begin blaming others using thoughts, rather than living our way into better circumstances.
As in the previous example with a relationship, we may also think we can bypass countless other executives and become a VP of a major firm very quickly, but if our work isn’t stronger than our competitors, if our dedication isn’t there, or even if the leadership doesn’t really even like us, then our belief in ourselves in the spiritual realm will accomplish little in the material world. We may even find ourselves out of a job.
Again, to our spirit this is not something ‘going wrong.’ Rather, it is a situation where we simply failed to meet the tests of that identity’s framework. We will have failed to successfully compete against those with the same ego-based goal of getting that VP job.
What’s important is that even though our ego will experience that ‘failure’ as a major traumatic event, our soul will be seeing the getting of the job as being equal to the losing of it. To our spirit, it’s all just life. And our spirit loves to live.
This is what it means to end suffering by accepting that there will always be suffering. While our ego’s suffering will be very real to it, to our soul the suffering is more like the answer to a straightforward equation: did we succeed within the framework, or not?
If we failed due to inaction within that framework’s set of expectations, that is a lesson for our soul. If we blame others for our failures, we trap ourselves in ego and we separate ourselves from our spirits.
Even with things we ‘don’t deserve’ like cancer or false incarceration we are still dealing with the rules that go with each framework. Part of having a physical body is that its ‘action’ is to grow, and its cells split, snips happen, DNA changes and people get cancer. Likewise, our ‘person-hood’ lives under laws, and whether they are just or unjust.
If the law believes we, as truly innocent people, are guilty, then we will materially be in jail until we can convince people in the ego world that we’re innocent. If we stay in ego we spend a tortured existence in jail. If we engage our spirits we can become Nelson Mandela and come to lead the nation that imprisoned us.
Our job is not to have life go well. Our job is to live. To do that, we must be active in the dualistic world, and we must respect its frameworks because that is the only place an ego can live and still comprehend what is going on around it.
Of course none of that removes the underlying reality of our spiritual self, and the fact that, throughout our ego’s adventures, our soul is always simply watching thoughts spin through the projector of our minds, onto the screens of our consciousness. But that is as it should be.
Our soul is here to experience the complete story of us. It’s time to stop trying to double back or race ahead to rewrite the painful, sad or scary parts of our story. Our freedom and power reside in the moments we are in.
Our salvation resides in our ability to simply read our current page; see our current frame –and experience each glorious moment of our unique and remarkable life. This is what it is to ‘be alive.’
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 over-thinking, 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 still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.