A few years ago, I went through a tsunami that swept absolutely everything from under my feet. Here I was, a respected trainer and writer, in a marriage seen by many as a model, in apparent perfect health (I had never used my health insurance since I contracted it decades ago) and with a very comfortable income.
And suddenly, in a matter of months, the rug was pulled from under my feet: a marriage of 23 years standing collapsed, my successful workshops crashed, and hence my income, I suddenly faced the greatest health challenge in my existence and above all, the spiritual path I had been following for 40 years exploded.
I felt very much like the famous personage Job in the Old Testament (see the book of the same name). I had the impression of being in a dark, deep canyon with no life whatsoever, just high rock walls and I did not even see how I could come out of this. I was for quite a while tempted to leave the planet. This condition lasted for two and a half years, years of gruelling self-accusation and examination.
What helped me most was the example of a very dear friend I have on death row in Texas, Roger, who decided to turn what most experience as the very end station of hell into a path of learning and growth. There was one moment fairly early in his experience when he made a very clear decision NOT TO BE A VICTIM. It is a decision each of us has to make in life, consciously. It is possibly the most momentous decision we will ever make in our lifetime. And it changes absolutely everything.
Faced with any difficulty, any trial, any challenge, we always have the possibility of deciding which stance we are going to adopt: that of victim, or that of a person who is responsible for the manner in which they are going to respond. The victim lives life in complaint, in a mood of lamentation, always accusing circumstances and others. He or she lives in a constant NO to existence and a belief in lack. The responsible person starts facing all situations with a resonant YES which opens to abundance in all areas, starting with his or her own feelings and mood. (We will address this issue in a future blog).
Perseverance is an essential quality of the spiritual path and in overcoming trials. In today’s world, we not only face our own challenges, but also those of the whole planet, and I believe that spiritually sensitive, compassionate and honest seekers, just because they are sensitive and compassionate, are “asked” by the universe to shoulder the world’s trials too. (Among the great spiritual avatars of the planet, Jesus illustrates this especially well). I tend to be suspicious of people who claim their path is a bed of roses all the way!
At one time during my tsunami, I had put a little post-it with a sentence by Roger just in front of my nose. In this powerful metaphor, he wrote: “I am hanging by my right arm to a rope, my left arm has been tied behind my back and someone is pulling my feet. And I just hang in there, and hang in there, and hang in there.” Wow! And perseverance is an essential element of working through our challenges
As I look back I can now see that on my former spiritual path I was so comfortably ensconced in self-righteousness and a superior attitude towards many other teachings that it really needed existential dynamite to get me out of my hole. And did I get it! And today, I can see that this was what was necessary as I rebuild my life, a little wiser and especially with much greater understanding and compassion for others. And above all, with the understanding that when I am in a sane mind (not always the case) I cannot judge a single other person on the planet – and that includes the worst speculators and dictators!