THE NOBLE STRUGGLE
In this rapidly changing world, periodically, we find ourselves in challenging circumstances which force us into uncomfortable situations at work, at school, or even at home. Often, this involves having to engage with people who have very different perspectives about life, ones we do not relate to. It is not uncommon in life for people to find themselves stuck in circumstances from which they can’t escape. This is how life maneuvers us into conditions which expose our weaknesses; it forces us to struggle with these perplexing conditions in order to grow, to mature, or to change our mind about something. Nothing on life remains stationary, it either grows or diminishes.
It usually takes a long time before a person recognizes that life is trying to help us. We humans usually keep a wary eye out for circumstances in label as: struggle, suffering, or trouble. We associate and lump all of these words with the seemingly random and unwelcome events that occasionally besiege our life experience bringing misery and difficulties. These problems often set us back in the forward march we’ve established in life and create stress and anxiety which can make us feel like we are driving with no hands.
Eager to move on, we seldom reflect on the “what and why” of the struggles and suffering in our own life, but rather do our best to sidestep unwanted interruptions. We are “pleasure/pain” beings, meaning we seek, pursue, and indulge in the pleasures of life while doing our best to avoid pain. Ironically, those things we have labeled pleasurable are often the things, conditions or habits which bring about our suffering.
We over-indulge ourselves in those things we consider to be pleasurable or entertaining and go to great extremes to deny and avoid anything we consider to be painful or uncomfortable.
In our human condition, struggle is a word that we associate with suffering, pain, and trouble. Struggle has been given a negative connotation because of the bad company it keeps. Thus, without stopping to think about their differences, people have grouped the idea of struggle with words such as “sickness”, “victimization”, and “distress.” However, “to struggle” is defined as: “…making a supreme effort, to strive, to be vigorously involved in a task”; whereas, the nouns “suffering,” “trouble,” and “misery” are described as: “…states of being or conditions in which we live.” In reality, the ability and motivation to struggle is a supreme blessing because only through the development of the will to struggle can people rise above their human conditions of suffering and misery.
Psychologist Carl Jung theorized that basic human struggle is beneficial for personal growth which included the need to create and to self-actualization. Jung felt that in order to fully integrate the ego-personality, the individual was subject to and would also be driven to balance the more aggressive masculine aspects with the more sensitive feminine qualities. Jung believed self-actualization emerged as a result of the individual balancing and integrating the opposing or competing forces which make up the personality.
Internal Reality becomes External Experience
Humans, in general, have no idea that the present circumstances in their lives are a perfect reflection of their thoughts, perceptions, and actions. This means the internal reality of each person, in time, will become their external experience. With this in mind, it can be understood that the “general suffering” in this world is the result of one of two conditions; first, people make choices regarding their life based on inaccurate or incomplete knowledge; and second, they remain attached to these flawed perceptions even when they are proven to be incorrect.
Although the universe provides mankind with a system of feedback known as the law of cause and effect, the majority of people have not yet made the connection between their thoughts and perceptions and the personal experiences they encounter in life. They do not understand that living a life based on misunderstanding and misinformation will eventually create imbalance, disharmony, and suffering in our life experience. Of course, people don’t realize they are formulating these misperceptions.
They do not understand the perceptions being formed from everyday experiences are flawed because they are being filtered through their own pre-existing prejudices, delusions, pain, and fears. In Corinthians 13:12, Paul referred to this as “seeing through the glass darkly.” Neither do they realize they continuously accept, incorporate, and use inaccurate information, insights, and beliefs foisted on them by other people and the institutions in which they live. Unless people make a conscious effort to recognize, reject, and break free of their misconceptions and illusions, they will continue to experience a distorted and inaccurate picture of reality.
Unconsciously, many people realize they see through the glass darkly, but they have no idea what to do to remedy the condition. In order to give the appearance of functioning competently in life, they adhere tightly to their current perceptions in hopes they are right. This effort is an attempt to maintain their self-image, which is a reflection of their self-concept. This consolidation of the self-concept gives one a sense of confidence and stability against the forces of the world. Consequently, people will fiercely defend their misconceptions and misunderstandings about life and others in order to maintain their self-esteem and self-righteousness even though such a condition often obstructs new learning and personal growth.
Reorientation of consciousness to the spiritual enables people to recognize misconceptions and misunderstandings as dangerous illusions which prevent them from seeing and experiencing life as it was meant to be. The quest for self-awareness is about struggling to realize that while we all have our share of misconceptions, the appropriate thing to do is to let go of inaccuracies as soon as they are recognized. Albert Einstein said, “We must learn to differentiate clearly the fundamentally important, that which is really basic, from that which is dispensable, and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things which clutter up the mind and drive it from the essential.” The noble struggle is about being humble enough to release worldly delusions and attempt to reorder our perceptions so that these are aligned with the essentials of reality. In other words, reorientation of consciousness is making a continuous effort to let go of personal delusions and to see life as if one perceived it through the eyes of God.
The universe is perfect in its manifestation; it is guided by laws and principles that are infallible. As created beings, humanity is governed by these same laws and principles, but we also have the capability of utilizing these to enhance our life experience. As we become knowledgeable of universal laws and incorporate them into consciousness, our life experiences become harmonious, balanced, and synchronistic with all of life. When life is lived according to universal law and the inner spiritual nature is clearly understood, the mental and emotional makeup will be stable and clear, and self-perception will be true.
The axiom “as above, so below” is helpful in understanding how these laws and principles which apply to the macrocosmic universe also apply to our microcosmic universe. The unified relationship enables us to realize that Creation “below” is configured like Creation “above,” and Creation “above” is revealed in Creation “below.” There is one common Light within all living systems from the atom to the galaxy, and all such forms are governed by universal law. Christ teaches his disciples about the trinities of God and the unity in duality, and He says, “Marvel not at this, for as it is above so it is below, and as it is below so it is above, and that which is on the earth is so because it is so in Heaven.”
“As above, so below” means that mankind is a micro universe which functions according to the same laws and principles as the macro universe. In order for us to fully participate in our divine heritage, we must reorient our thinking, perceptions, and actions so they are congruous with the operations and laws of the macro universe. We will know we are successful in this reorientation process when our life experiences are fruitful, harmonious, and trouble free. This requires that we let go of who we “think” we are so we can become who we “really” are. Surrendering to the divine essence within awakens the unlimited potential of the spiritual nature revealing higher levels of consciousness.
Present civilization has not been amenable to creating an environment that is conducive to the development of true aesthetic and spiritual practices. Religions condemn exploration outside of their doctrines, and some fundamentalist religions even forbid internal contemplation. The raw materialism of civilization and the concrete/rational thinking not only oppose the soaring of spiritual creativity, but minimize, and render insignificant the affective, the gentle, the solitary, those who love beauty, and those who pursue aspirations in life other than money. The external world rather encourages the individual to chase the materialistic illusions of modern life.
However, those who give priority to contemplating the truth and beauty of the unseen over gratification from the mundane will develop inner sensibilities which bring peace, happiness, grace, and insight. When consciousness ascends the highest summits and is illuminated by intuition and creative imagination, it provides impetus for enthusiasm and inspiration toward the supreme goal. The struggle to rise above suffering, to suppress the ego, and to awaken the moral ideals, spiritual sensibilities, and the appreciation of beauty leads one to the path of the spirit.
The spiritual aspirant follows an internal discipline or spiritual struggle aimed at communion with God or ultimate reality through contemplation and meditation. This requires an elevation of the mind toward a being that is the source of all things, toward the power and center of forces, which the seeker calls God. The seeker sees beauty hidden in the visible things of the world. For this inspired individual, the appreciation of beauty, inner harmony, and communion with life becomes the stepping stone to the higher knowledge of Self-realization, enlightenment, and oneness with Christ.
“The suffering of the saints lies in the struggle between malice and virtue,
the former fighting to win control, the latter enduring all things to avoid
defeat. The first struggles to nurture sin by chastising the righteous;
the second to hold good men firm although they
experience more than their share of misfortunes.”
To a Strange Little Moth Sleeping
The butterfly writes across the sky; the poet writes of the butterfly.
The sun shines, rain falls from above, but only a rainbow expresses God’s love.
Soooo, buzzing bees tickling the ears, hint of sweetness from dusty tears.
The heart has pages meant for turning, from cold despair to fiercest burning.
One sun circles withdrawing its light, to allow the stars to prick the night.
Awaken the muse; dance round the flame, embracing blessing, honoring pain!
Poems by my Wife