Always taking the easy path can make rivers and men crooked.
(adapted from a quote by Napoleon Hill)
Why is living on Earth accompanied by so much pain and suffering? In recent years I’ve concluded that it traces back to the most ancient of times… probably some 3 billion years ago, when humans from Eden, or Marduk, became stranded on Terra. Since then it’s become our purpose as human beings to help spread light and order into this dark and troubled world through our thoughts, words, and actions… to resurrect someday the paradise lost so long ago.
Now, that’s all well and good when thinking about suffering—it helps to know why life on Earth is not easy—but a more pressing question is how to make the best choices from one day to the next, to gradually shape our life… while navigating through the obstacles all around us and handling the pain they cause. It helps me to know, for example, that:
One, life on Earth has challenges and heartaches, including some that seem hopeless.
Two, there’s an all-powerful life force that streams through everything, including us.
Three, tapping into that force is our noblest birthright.
Four, with that force at hand, no choice is too hard… no pain insufferable.
And five, the easiest choices usually are not the best ones.
I watched an exotic drama recently about Nepalese villagers high in the Himalayas whose livelihood involves mining salt from Tibetan salt lakes and trekking to market far below to trade for grain. The arduous journey has to be made after the grain harvest, in late fall, as the winter storms approach, and the villagers have always relied on spirits for a safe trip. This year, speaking through the lamas, the spirits forecast an early storm, so the trip should be postponed. Village chief Tinle is getting too old for the trip this year and turns the job over to his oldest son, but when the son dies, an arrogant young man named Karma takes over. Karma insists that village decisions should be made by villagers, not by spirits, and tries to persuade the other young men to leave with him immediately on the journey.
Tinle tries to recruit his second son, who’s lived his life in a monastery, to come lead the caravan and eventually to take over the chief’s position in the village. The young man feels he’s not cut out for the job, having spent his life in spiritual pursuits, but after a lot of soul-searching agrees to make the trip, explaining that a wise old lama once told him that when faced with two choices, always make the more difficult one. It strengthens character and spiritual resolve.
This year I’ve had a pinched nerve in the spine that’s caused a lot of pain. I know from experience that it’s a lot easier to pop a Vicodin pill than to do a lot of stretching exercises and physical therapy… but it’s the more difficult choices that seem to be doing the most permanent good.
I know some people who suffer from a lifetime of emotional wounds. Some of them choose to numb the pain with drugs or alcohol and get trapped in addiction, and others tap into that omnipotent force, do an inventory of their lives, and begin to heal. Again, the more difficult choices are the ones that put them on the path to happiness.
So the next time you have an important life choice to make, take a closer look at the harder choice and its possible rewards….
What I Learned from ITC, the series:
1 Being sensitive in a harsh world
2 Controlling emotions
3 Leaving the family of man
4 How spirits navigate time and space
5 Hardships heighten the human experience
6 To establish a bridge
7 The illusion of time
8 Life on the mid-astral plane, or third level