I am the Founder/Prior of Banyan Abbey & Founder/Director of The South Florida Meditation & Mindfulness Society. We provide holistic mental, emotional, & spiritual care to our clients. I am a Philosophical Counselor, Spiritual Director, Sound Therapist, & Life Coach. I believe a daily prayer, meditation, & mindfulness practice are critical for personal life transformation. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (305) 721-0721, to schedule an appointment.
The Cause of Cause
We often have stories we want to share. They are good stories. They’re insights about ourselves occurring when we’re on some high, on top of our game, going strong and in control. Loved ones are healthy, finances are fine and life is worth living. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll be facing the death of loved ones, divorce, financial burdens and reassessments as to the meaning and significance of the life we felt – perhaps just a few months or days ago – was worth living.
Recently, I was sitting across a former colleague who shared with my wife and me, a brutal personal hardship. Eight years ago, I shared with this very same colleague an almost identical narrative that I was going through – and to a certain extent – I still am. While she related her story, I was transported to a state of uncanny awareness of synchronicity which doesn’t occur often in life. When it does, though, the epiphany is staggering and humbling. I believe the ramifications for reflection are abundant. This is why I want to share this reflection with you.
Carl Gustav Jung
We usually do not embrace the notion that we are really interconnected and related. If we really think about it though, we are. With the invisible bonds which we all share in common, there are vibrations caused by the polarities within and between us. These unleash spiritually charged forces which impact every one of us - somehow. Surroundings and circumstances do affect us exerting their influence beyond the noticeable familiarity of our everyday lives. There is a hidden “third rail”, a power source, which nourishes us in the midst of the place we find ourselves in. This power is for good. But our assessment of our experiences fashions the manner in which we deduce whether our lives are good or not. This is also the reason why we compare ourselves to others and make certain judgements as to our quality of life. This is quite unhealthy. It stumps our ability to evolve spiritually.
Another point of consideration is that of cause.This is the usual source of the “why” that we ask incessantly.Jung argued that causes do not necessarily have to be related in terms of direct lines of effect.It is rather foolish to seek a motive or meaning for something in its immediate aftermath.Sometimes it takes days – sometimes years.This isn’t to say we refrain from prayer, wonder, curiosity and reflection.But it may just be meaning will elude us for a season or two… or three.Meaning can far transcend the steps that lead up to something we’re experiencing.It may only make sense after we compare notes with someone who had a similar experience.Community is required for us to identify an existential purpose.
We are connected. We are witnesses of each other’s pain as well as to potential and aspirations. Have you ever thought how close you are to undergo the same or similar situation? When we are passive bystanders to someone else’s life, we are in a grace state, a kind of immunity. Those similar conditions, which we are about to experience within, we see from afar. This is a threshold of time grace affords us to reflect on how would we live if given the very same conditions. This is a time of mercy for us to prepare and to plumb the depths of our resolve, faith and nature. It also challenges our notions of personal empathy. We will hope others are empathetic with us, are we with them? We are witnesses to each other’s setbacks and accomplishments – past, present and future. With slight variations, just like composers who add their personal twist to the pieces which have made singular, irrevocable imprints in their lives, what happens to me can indeed, happen to you. It’s a variation on the theme of the human condition.
I must interject herein and submit that causality, in my humble opinion, isn’t a linear process of cause and effect. Rather, it’s more like a web; a concentric, interconnected circulation of life. The circadian rhythm of life transcends to the invisible outposts of mind, consciousness and the soul. Accordingly, how we may avoid certain ends is greatly determined by interpersonal and intrapersonal factors we are willing to alter in the present. Most of these are the remnants of our past.
These difficult reconfigurations require patient, personal attention to our past. And they cannot be changed due to a preconceived notion or plan to what we’re seeking to do in the future. That sabotages any real change and subjugates the process to intended ends rather than to emancipate ourselves from any set goals (which could also be the ghost of the past in disguise). How can we alter the future? The options are available to those whose discernment is quickened and empowered by the Spirit. If we humbly realize that what we desire may not be what we need and the total sum of the future will be determined not just by a goal, but by a comprehensive transformation of our self – in mind, body and Spirit, above all else, then the future is open to what God desires for us to be for him.
Our present clouds our judgment as to what will happen tomorrow – as well as later in the day. Indeed, we should sustain positive thoughts about the morrow, but aware of the fragile matrix that sustains those wishes and prayers. Many things can happen. And many things do. Many events alter individuals in ways which leave the person a shadow of who they were before. We have a distorted view of “karma” and unhealthy opinion of prosperity. We are shackled by superstition and sustain a malnourished spirituality. For much of the balance we claim to seek, our spirituality is far from calibrated and hence, reliable.
Even as I wonder when my next wave of slings and arrows are going to be unleashed, break my balance and cause me to drown in uncertainty, doubt and pain, I often recall my training as a martial artist. If I resist the power of a wave, I can lose my balance just as much as when I’m facing it. But if I follow the course of the current, swim along and let its strength become my means of propelling me across the sea, I arrive at the shore mostly through the forbearance of the thrust that initially was my foe. This is the wisdom of spiritual aikido… and of humility.
As stories are invested in us, these narratives describe trial and perseverance. They may include resolution, but all transmit wisdom for those who can discern. In our daily preoccupation with the quotidian, it is easy to overlook these tools of discernment. Much of the situations we find ourselves in are predominantly the result of our interior state of being. Our spiritual health. In the prologue to his excellent book on Jung and the Gnostic gospels, Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller, wrote the following admonishment we should all heed: “Many speak and write of world peace and the envisioned “one world” with recognizing that such ideals can never be realized on the external plane until enough individuals have come to wholeness within themselves.” Let us begin the great work within. Let us work for peace.