field
Oct 042017
 

Maybe it has been there for many months. Possibly years even. The dark night of the soul, in whatever form it may be, whether chronic illness, loss, pain, suffering, continuous failures on too many fronts, depression that knows no end – whatever it may be.

Maybe we have accepted it. After all, we have the power to try and alleviate our situation and condition. We do whatever we can, whatever we can think of, whatever we can afford. But for how long? How long does it take before we feel defeated… when we give up… when we break down?

And even when we do give up – it’s not as if anything has changed. The suffering continues, each moment feels like eternity, and the hope… where is the hope? We cannot even remember when exactly we lost it. It was that long ago! Somewhere along the path of struggling and trying and failing and coming up with new tactics; somewhere in that battlefield hope was lost and gone.

And yet hope, couldn’t care less that we’ve forgotten all about it, that we lost it. It’s not offended. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it’s here. Like the very first rays of dawn after a night that has gotten darker by the minute. We did not expect it. We were not prepared for this. We may even be afraid. Afraid that this hope is just a teaser – being lifted upwards for the sole purpose of being slammed down with even greater force.
But here too, hope doesn’t care. Like a child smiling at us when all around us there’s devastation from an earthquake or a hurricane. That smile is untouched by the outside ruins. That smile exists on a realm of its own. We may dismiss it for as much as we want, but we cannot ignore the very fact that it touches us in a way undeniable. It’s there – or rather – right here. And when it is, we see all the ruin very very differently. Just like putting on a pair of tinted glasses. Nothing looks the same as before. The suffering was so real a moment ago, hope was nowhere to be found or remembered a moment ago. But that moment ago now feels just like eternity ago. This is more than magic – it’s almost diabolic.

We have an inherent need to understand. We have a need to have an idea in our mind about how things work, how the world works, how life works. Perhaps we do this so that we know what to expect, perhaps as a way to protect ourselves from unpleasant surprises. Or perhaps we have this need so to allow us to feel belong and connected, rather than alien to this world and this life. This need that we have, may be something that we are consciously aware of, but may also be something that’s controlling us, pulling our strings and pushing our buttons without our awareness, knowledge or consent. Regardless, we constantly try to understand how things really work and how we ought to interact with this reality.

Too often, when reality unfolds in accordance with this understanding of ours, we become more convinced that “we got it”. We may actually believe that we know what to expect. That we cannot be too surprised by anything. This is not entirely unlike arrogance – but it’s a protection mechanism. How else could we possibly take a step if we think that the floor is not solid? This may be a necessary protection mechanism for us to use. If we have been suffering for a very long time, having hope could just hurt us even more.

And yet suddenly… it is now here: Hope!

 

Jun 122014
 

There are two kinds of arrogance. In the first, we are aware of our being arrogant, while in the second we have no such awareness. We can begin to see the unaware kind of arrogance through any of the following, which belong in this category:

  • Making assumptions
  • Taking for granted anything at all (our body, health, relationships, home, abilities, capabilities, disabilities)
  • Having any expectations
  • Believing that we truly know anything (including knowing ourselves)

I can understand anyone who would resent reading the above; most of us don’t like to think of ourselves, or be thought of as being arrogant and according to the above, 99% of us are arrogant. But if we consider “humility” to be the opposite of “arrogance”, and try to find where exactly the dividing line between these two polar terms cross, we may find ourselves continuously pushing the line towards “humility”.

Suffering is not a standalone phenomena. Imagine a pendulum swinging from one side to the next; On one side is suffering – on the other is pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. When the pendulum is stabilized in the center, that’s where there’s inner peace, a sense of wellbeing, relief and stillness.

Arrogance is instrumental in pushing the pendulum further to the suffering side, giving it more momentum and preventing its rest at the center. The reason for this is that we unknowingly use aware/unaware arrogance to protect ourselves against the truthfulness of reality, which is always unknown. We create an illusion of stability that is non existent and at some point the inevitable happens – reality strikes and we break down along with our illusion.

Looking again at the list above we can see that making assumptions, taking anything for granted, having expectations etc’ are all prone do surprise and disappointment. Those result in suffering to one degree on another. The stronger the expectation, assumption etc’, the stronger the surprise. If the surprise is pleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “happiness side” and if the surprise is unpleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “suffering side”. Either way, the pendulum is given momentum and the peace and wellbeing that’s in the still center escapes us.

Some of you may think that arrogance is better avoided but that happiness, satisfaction and pleasure on the other hand, should actually be sought. But again, one cannot exist without the other. True peace and equanimity exist beyond good and bad, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the same in the face of turmoil, loss, grief and illness as it is in the face of pleasure, satisfaction and happiness. It is the liberation from circumstances. When we are no longer in the graces of what the next moment brings – which is always unknown – we become free.