Friday, February 25, 2011

Justifying the Pain and Suffering

Nearly every day, there are some of us who feel like something is missing in our lives. We have become victimized by our hidden purposes. We don't really know why we're here living the lives we are living.

Although some of the things we are doing make us feel good, even happy on some occasions, we are constantly dogged by nagging thoughts that something is missing in our lives.

In many instances, we have resigned ourselves to believe we are eternal searchers. We are here to search for the meaning of why we're here. So we do different things, experience different things, and struggle to make sense out of the things we do.

Most of us search for things -- money, power, fame, and so on -- to provide us with joy or with a sense of purpose. We are motivated by the darkness of doubts concealing from us the fulfillment we believe is rightfully ours.

So our thoughts and actions are always focused on finding ways to escape from the pain and suffering in our lives. It's not intentional suffering. We don't plan for it. It's just what happens when we do the things we do.

There comes a point in all of our lives when we want to change, to stop the suffering. We get small, periodic thoughts or silent voices reminding us that something needs to be done.

These thoughts are fleeting like the blowing winds. So we don't pay too much attention to them. After all, they're not wake up calls like a hurricane or tornado.

Most of us don't listen to our silent voices because we don't know where they're coming from. They seem fanciful, unreal and untrustworthy. We are too fixed on worshipping our accomplishments or denigrating ourselves to trust some thoughts prodding us to doing something about how we're feeling.

For those of us who do listen, we find it refreshing to learn that we are actually responsible for the actions we are taking to acquire things and the suffering that comes with them.

Even though it's difficult for us to initially accept we are responsible for bringing the suffering into our lives, we eventually reach the point in self-discovery that allows us to face this unpleasant truth.

Whenever we engage in self-discovery, we immediately discover that we are products of our teachings. This begins with the information we were taught by our parents, teachers and society in general. They taught us their beliefs and values.

Let's not be quick to judge them harshly. They gave us what they had at the time. And like them, we gave them to our children as sacrosanct beliefs on how to think and act. Now we use these beliefs and values to confirm our existence and purpose.

Nevertheless, it's our beliefs and values that's causing us to suffer. We act according to our beliefs. If we believe it's right or wrong to steal, murder or lie, we make our decisions based on what we believe is best for us in a given situation.

So if we're hungry, and there's a supermarket with lots of foodstuffs, we might rationalize that's it's okay to steal from them.

Similarly, there are times when we do things to enhance our suffering because we are trying to create harmonious relationships with others. We accept the suffering on behalf of the relationships.

This happens all the time to us with our children, parents, spouses, friends, and so forth. It also happens with our relationships at work, in college or in our church, mosque, temple, and so forth.

Regardless to how we work to make suffering a part of our lives, we are constantly seeking ways to overcome it. One of the most effective ways to overcome suffering is self-discovery.

We begin our self-discovery by our willingness to face the suffering and understand why we're suffering and what's causing it. And then we're able to do something about it by changing how we think and live. In other words, we cannot use the same beliefs and values that's causing the suffering to liberate us from it.

The truth about freedom is that in only appears in our lives when we work for it. And a good place to begin working on self-discovery is "Seeds from the Ashes."

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Following the Crowd"

We live and die struggling to make sense out of the world. We search everywhere for things and people to help us navigate the perilous oceans of despair and suffering. After awhile, many of us discover that the world is greater than we believe ourselves to be. This is the moment of our human victimization.

When we reach the point in our lives where the world overwhelms us, we have found what others before us discovered: It's difficult to change our beliefs about people and the world we live in. And for many of us, this is troubling. It's troubling to believe we must live our lives as victims of the beliefs and values controlling the world.

Some of us feel like slaves, while some of us feel like kings and queens. We feel happy or sad according to the effectiveness of our beliefs and values. If they give us more things -- money, fame, social and political power -- then we believe they are working for us. On the other hand, if they give us less things, then we feel more powerless.

There are some of us who are caught in the web of powerlessness and we just can't seem to escape. To us, freedom or change is nothing more than intellectual gymnastics. We haven't truly accepted that our problems begin and end with our beliefs and values.

During our travels in the world we don't give much thought to the power our beliefs and values have on us. We have learned to accept them as naturally as we accept blinking eyes or breathing. We don't think about them until they are disrupted by something. Then we begin to appreciate seeing and breathing.

When we think about how long people have been living in this world and how little we know about why we're here is mind boggling. It's as if we awaken on a crowded road and begin following the people in front of us. Although, we don't know where they're going, we follow because we don't know where we're going either.

At some points on our journey we ask people around us, "Where are we going?" They usually respond by saying "we're just following the crowd." And thus begins our sojourn in the world. We're following the crowd.

Unfortunately, for many of us, when we awakened on the crowded road, we didn't realize that all the people on the road had gotten there the same as we did. So while we thought we're following people who know where they are going, we're actually following people who are actually traveling in darkness right along with us.

Nevertheless, our beliefs and values are the tools we acquired from the crowded road. We use them as tools to create and solve problems. And when they don't work well for us, we continue to use them over and over again to create more problems and solutions. And when this doesn't work well for us, we stop someone on the crowded road and ask them for answers. This is the way many of us live.

 It's unfortunate for most of us that we never straighten this problem out during our lifetime. It's not too late to get off the crowded road and search within ourselves for the answers. When we do, we discover the light of enlightenment shining brightly within us.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"What Does it Mean to be BLESSED?"

Most of the people we see on television or listen to on the radio talk fervently about being "blessed." They nearly always connect blessed with success,  financial reward, health, personal relationships, status, spirituality, and so forth.

Some of us on the enlightenment journey have become curious about what it means to be blessed. WE want to know what events, circumstances or experiences classify as being blessed. And who are the people that seem to get the most blessings?

Very rarely, if ever, do we hear anyone talking about not being blessed. We are curious about the people who are facing foreclosures, the victims of prolonged unemployment, the ones who are suffering from incurable illnesses, and those who are suffering for the loss of loved ones. Are they blessed?

Similarly, there are some actions that create both blessings and despair. There are some people who become blessed by wealth, fame, status, and so forth only to watch it slip away from them. While there are others who find themselves scuffling to get by. They are always living from paycheck-to-paycheck with no end in sight. Are they blessed?

There are some people who create for themselves lavish lifestyles. They work hard everyday to accomplish their goals. Some of them are familiar faces to us. We follow them in sports, politics, entertainment, business, and so forth. And from afar, they seem blessed. Are they really blessed or the beneficiaries of hard work?

Some of us who hear the blessed people's constant pronouncements of "being blessed" find them to be somewhat confusing, demeaning. Particularly, when so many of them attribute their blessings to God, The Creator, Allah, and so forth.

Perhaps they are correct in their assertions about the origins of blessings. Nevertheless, there are still some of us who want to know why so many millions, let's make that billions, of people are not blessed? And more importantly: Why they never express gratitude for not being blessed?