What’s it all about—really?

Few of us will leave this lifetime without experiencing problems and difficulties. And when they happen, most of us have wondered: Why me?  Did you ever think that maybe you set it up that way, that you saw those challenges as opportunities to grow and expand your consciousness?

So, if that is the case…

The idea of having set up our life experiences for a purpose puts one’s life in a whole new context. It brings new meaning to life events because we are seeing them as part of a bigger picture.

Probably the most valuable outcome is that seeing the bigger picture gets us out of victim mode. You know, when we tell our “poor me” stories about how our spouse continually ignores us, our adult children take us for granted and we feel like their servant, or our boss always disregards our brilliant suggestions that would make a genuine improvement in the workplace.

In so many cases, the human tendency is to tell those stories from the point of the aggrieved party—Look what was done to me. These days, theres a lot of that going on in collective stories as well as in our individual ones.

But there are different ways to interpret events, and we can choose the attitude we convey when we tell our stories.

Tell the story from a bigger perspective…

Instead of seeing my life from inside it, I prefer the bigger view. It’s much more empowering to realize that the unfolding of my life was not a random bunch of events tossed together as if they were balls in a lottery drum.

You can do the same thing, approaching it as a thought experiment. You don’t have to believe that you actually did plan your life in advance. You can just play with the idea.

  • What if it were true?
  • Why would I have picked these particular challenges?
  • How did i imagine the experience would benefit me in the long run?

These guidelines might help:

  1. Before starting: It may help to set aside your current beliefs and attitudes on the topic. You can tuck them safely away in an imaginary box or suitcase until your exploration is complete. (This is a thought experiment so you can set this up as you like.)
  2. Ask the question: If it’s true that I created this life to give me certain experiences, how would that explain __insert aspect you’d like to explore________?
  3. Be curious and explore: There’s more than one way to explore a question. Experiment to find what works best for you.

Ask the question to open up the field, and then go about your daily activities. You may find that something relevant pops into your head when you’re not thinking about it. Or you might wake up one morning with an insight. This may happen the next day or a week from now. Working like this tends to unfold in its own time. Your job is to be sincerely curious and open to receive insights when they appear in your field.

Contemplate from the perspective of your inner world. Sit or lie quietly, eyes closed, breathing softly. Drop deep into your belly. This connects you with the wiser aspects of your consciousness, the ones that can help your brain make sense of things from a deeper, broader, more insightful perspective.

Choose what fits for you: When you’ve explored to your satisfaction, you’ll have a rich pool of new insights to consider along with everything you had tucked away in the box or suitcase. With all of that, you are then in a position to choose what fits for you, what makes the most sense… for the time being, at least.

Life  continues to unfold…

At some point, you’ll discover there’s yet a broader perspective that explains even more and fits better with the expanded consciousness that continues to arise as your life unfolds.

And that’s Life…

Doing as Life does.

_________________________

Bibliography

As many of you know, this is one of my favourite stories. It’s relevant to the telling of our own stories…

The moral of the story: The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad, because you never know what will be the consequences of a misfortune… or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

Your Soul’s Plan  by Rob Schwartz

What Next?!

I’ve been contemplating it a lot lately—What next for me? What next in the world at large? And, I know I’m not alone in wondering what will present itself and how I’ll navigate whatever appears. 

I doubt that anyone has been immune to discombobulation as we’ve been confronted by one unexpected and unthinkable event after another. A confounding US presidential election result, the rapid arrival of a global pandemic, a war in Europe that has gone on for well over a year—just a few of the events of enormous magnitude that turned our world upside down.

And now, just as we thought we’d found our feet again, we’re dealing with yet another—the general accessibility of an artificial intelligence with capabilities that have stunned even people in the industry. These events, along with numerous others, have greatly disrupted our comfortable mindset about how life works.

Shifting perspective…

Most of us would prefer to avoid disruption, but it can be a good thing. When life turns upside down, we get a chance to see things differently… if we choose to.

I remember the story that first shifted my thinking about good and bad fortune. Here’s a charming version narrated by Alan Watts. Watts, who died in 1973, was an early interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. This is his telling of the story about a Chinese farmer, his horse, and his son…

Maybe…

Going back to the disruptive events we are experiencing, perhaps we can learn something from this story. What looks like a bad thing might turn out to be a good thing in the long run.

For example, the AI that has recently got our attention, known as ChatGPT, is evoking a lot of fear—about loss of jobs for humans, its power to impersonate humans, the rate at which it is evolving…

Those are legitimate concerns. But, on the other hand, perhaps the disconcerting  appearance of ChatGPT is actually serving a useful purpose.

What if the potential for ChatGPT to run amok prompts us to look deeper within to see what we value and what makes us human?

What if awareness of what is important and what makes us human prompts us to take responsibility for our own actions and to conduct our lives in accordance with that awareness of what we value as humans?

And what if, instead of worrying that AI is going to take us over, we teach it our values, just as parents do with their developing children?

Choose to see things differently

Is AI a bad thing?

Maybe.

Is AI a good thing?

Maybe.

How can we make it a good thing? That is the key question.

If you found this of value, please share it with someone.

When life turns upside down…

It’s the end of the week in which life turned upside down where I live.

A couple days in, I was seized by an urge to bake. Every day since, I’ve had porridge with raisins and hot milk for breakfast. I have a no-knead bread recipe on my counter, waiting for the next baking urge to hit.

Comfort baking Continue reading

A little change in social attitude…

*** Time for this post?  Reading…3 minutes. Listening…10 minutes. Considering…at your leisure.

The death phobia that pervades our consumer culture does not serve us well…

We get to indulge in death phobia because commercial interests are right there, ready to step in and do the difficult things for us. In this way, we avoid a lot of discomfort.

But we pay a price for our comfort…and it’s not just in money. We become death illiterate, with no language for what death asks of us and no emotional capacity to recognize that death is asking something of us.

The cultural story…

Continue reading

Only time will tell the whole story.

I welcome reader comments on my blog. They get me thinking. Here’s one, in response to my post, written after I tripped and gave myself a black eye.

Great blog today. I love how an unfortunate event becomes blog fodder. 😊

It made me aware that I hadn’t actually thought of my black eye as unfortunate. And with that awareness, I remembered the story that first shifted my thinking about good and bad fortune.

Here’s a charming version, narrated by philosopher, writer, and speaker, Alan Watts. Born in England, he moved to the US in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Watts, who died in 1973, is best known as an early interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

So what can we make of this ancient teaching?

Continue reading