Do you often find yourself looking through a continual kaleidoscope of pleasure and pain, where you can never hold on long enough to the momentary satisfaction, or move through the temporary distress fast enough?
Perhaps you feel stuck on an endless merry-go-round of good days, followed by bad days, and you can’t figure out how to jump off.
Or worse yet, do you feel strapped to a rollercoaster with extreme highs and extreme lows where the thrill has long gone out, but you can’t grab the attention of the operator in time to get off?
The Hindus call this samsara, the endless wheel of illusion, where you go from one state to the next without ever discovering who you are or what this is all about. For the West, it is heaven or hell. For the East, it is an interminable cycle of rebirths, where each birth leads relentlessly to death, which leads again to another birth, which leads yet again to death.
Samsara explained in a bit more detail…
Heaven in the East, called nirvana (or blowing out), is the cessation of passion, where you break through the cycle into infinite bliss. Heaven in the West is the growing presence of an overpowering divine love that transforms everyone and everything in its path.
The Buddha prescribed a remedy from this plight through detachment. As he saw it, all pleasure is temporary, and all suffering is a consequence of attachment, or refusing to accept a sudden change in conditions.
Even if we win the Super Lotto and find ourselves loaded with cash, we will soon fear that someone will steal it, or the tax collector will take away a huge chunk of it. The implication is that life will rarely be just the way we like it, and if we focus on outer success alone, we will be severely disappointed.
Enlightenment is seen as awakening from the illusion that all this stuff is real. It is like jumping off as a character on the movie screen, only to find yourself in the audience grinning at your make-believe self. Seldom do we realize that this is all entertainment for Someone else.
Anything you can point to is not ultimately real. If you can see it, touch it, smell it, taste it…it is a dream, at times wonderful, at times horrible. You find yourself in a hall of mirrors and feel God has set you up for futility. It is like a practical joke played on you where you forgot that you had implicitly agreed on the whole setup.
What then, is the way out?
Transformation. It is the dawning realization that who you really are is not some hapless piece in the game, but rather, you are the entire game. The Universe is playing itself through you; only you are not the YOU that you habitually think is you.
Hardly any of us consciously pursues pain, and few of us in our right mind and heart would genuinely wish it on anyone else. Likewise, we don’t pursue pleasure, even the cheap thrills of a carnival, in order to intentionally hurt ourselves. We simply drink, overeat, take drugs, or indulge in sex to feel better.
Is it all good, or all bad? No, it is what it is. We couldn’t know pleasure as pleasure without knowing pain as pain.
Just as we couldn’t appreciate the dazzling display of fireworks on a Fourth of July without the dark night as a background. When we come to accept that things are the way they are, we experience perfection. We are immersed in infinite possibilities and life ever renews itself.
We come to realize that there are deeper pleasures that are not based on outward conditions. When we are totally in present time, or we step aside and gaze at the grand panorama of our lives, we find that we are in bliss.
Pain is an acute sensation of discomfort. It is simply a warning sign that our body is in danger. I don’t wish pain on anybody. However, suffering goes well beyond pain to mental anguish.
This can come through fear, anger and greed. We wonder what will happen to us, or we suddenly lose someone we deeply love, and we blame it all on someone else. This form of discomfort can be far worse than physical torment.
The greatest pain can be an ultimate spiritual emptiness where life has lost all meaning, the state of the world is hopeless, and there is nothing that you can do. You are nothing, and will amount to nothing.
This whole thing is a gigantic fluke. You arrived here by accident and will exit here by accident. Why continue going through the motions?
At first, it might sound very conventional to you… but this time… I invite you to look deeper (beyond words) and begin feeling it from within.
The answer, of course, is love… or divine love, a type of love that opens up and keeps giving and giving. You are surprised by the joy of knowing that you are loved absolutely. Someone sometime somewhere gave their all that you might live, and now their life surges within you, much like a massive blood infusion.
Out of that experience of being loved, you discover that you are infinitely precious in Someone’s eyes, that you are, in fact, divine. Not only that, you discover that this Love is the most powerful force in the entire universe and moves the stars.
Thus, whatever pleasure and pain comes your way, whatever your Maker is pleased to offer you in the moment, no one and nothing can stop this love, which is within you. You are now empowered to make a difference. You have a voice in transforming, not only YOUR WORLD, but also THE WORLD.
Do you experience emotional pain? Focus on love! Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself (“oh, poor me”). Instead, get out and begin cultivating love around you, so you can experience and grow it within you. Put yourself out there, share your gifts with others, volunteer or contribute in some way… and you’ll notice things shift for you.
Give your mind a new outlet and give it permission to focus on something worthwhile…
The problem is that most of us all too often fail to realize that we ARE divine, and can do even greater things than our Master. And sadly we often hear our minds whisper: “Maybe someone else was meant for something great. Definitely not me.”
When we put Krishna, Buddha and Christ together, we arrive at the glorious news: we are ALL divine and share eternal life. They all were saying the same thing; only in very different ways.
We needn’t stay stuck in samsara. We can blow out the candle and enter nirvana at any time. We can surf through the waves of pain and pleasure consciously. We can confront the pain of the world and recognize that we are part of a greater plan to redeem, enlighten and transform.
Don’t look for love, but share it with others and it will find its way home. Love yourself, love everything and everyone around you (since they are your reflection anyway) and you’ll experience inner peace. Don’t even resist your emotional pain – love it for what it is… allow it to express itself and give it permission to move on.
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