Life on Earth can be brutal. How can people find peace and happiness amid all the suffering?
And how about the families and friends of those who suffer, we who struggle along with them? When we get caught up in our loved ones’ suffering, how can we deal with our own fear and anguish so that we can support our loved ones in ways that don’t complicate their situation or make it worse?
In short, is there an effective, time-proven formula that could help anyone to find peace and happiness amid all the suffering that spins out of Earth’s dramas and challenges?
Yes, I believe there is, and I’ll explain it in a moment. But first, a simple metaphor.
Oil and Vinegar Life
Imagine that all of the noble aspects of life (love, trust, joy, honesty, empathy…) are in the oil, and everything savage (fear, suspicion, desolation, deception, predation, pain…) is in the vinegar. The oil brings peace and happiness. The vinegar brings suffering.
In times of peace and contentment, the bottle is at rest and the oil rises to the top, but when our lives are shaken by adversity or turned upside down, the vinegar makes its presence known.
Coasting smoothly through life with the bottle upright and steady is a nice idea, but unlikely to happen. Earth is too rough a ride.
So the first thing to do is to understand where the oil and vinegar come from originally—why they even exist. Then make a decision…..
Choosing Peace and Happiness
To be clear, the aim here isn’t to wash away the suffering from the Earth, nor even to wash it out of our life once and for all. Suffering is unavoidable, according to Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, psychologists, philosophers, and others who’ve spent their lives dredging the depths of humanity.
Instead, the aim is to ensure that most people who are asked…
- “Are you happy?” or
- “Are you at peace?…
… are able to answer, in all honesty:
- “Generally speaking, yes,” or,
- “Despite everything, yes.”
The aim, then, is to find peace and joy as a way of life, even in times of suffering.
If we employ the time-proven technique below—especially in difficult times when fear and anguish jump to center stage—we can quickly restore equilibrium. Courageous souls have been using the same basic technique for centuries as a way of life—especially to find peace and strength in times of adversity.
Again, it’s not a “one-shot” process, in which we simply eliminate suffering once and for all from our life. Instead, it’s a technique that we employ time and time and time again, even when life gets difficult. Especially then.
So here, in a nutshell, is the timeless rationale for finding the greatest peace and happiness during a lifetime… for keeping our life as “upright and steady” as possible (the diagram below offers perspective):
(Note: If you don’t see the important purple diagram directly below on your mobile device, you might try “Desktop” mode or “Desktop site”)
- Acknowledge The Source as powerful and real.
- Acknowledge Earth’s shadows as weak and illusory.
- Acknowledge our own light (noble) side and shadow (savage) side… and the suffering we might have imposed on ourself and on others by the latter.
- Foster conscious contact with The Source to strengthen our light side, especially through meditation.
- Turn our life and our cares over to The Source.
- Decide, once we feel ready, to wash away the shadows from our life… and ask silently for ethereal help.
- Pray for others, including adversaries, to find The Source when they’re ready.
- Adopt these principles as a way of life.
These basic principles have been used down through the ages to find peace and happiness during a lifetime on Earth, and to find courage and perseverance in times of hardship.
And here, finally, are some explanations that tie up some of the loose ends of those principles:
- Assimilating these principles as a way of life gets the attention of finer spirit beings, whose support and protection can help keep us steady and upright.
- Practicing these principles can strengthen our “spiritual eyes” that can see beyond the shadows (or appearances) to perceive the elegant reality that emerges from The Source.
- Surrendering to the higher will (turning our life over to The Source) can take a big emotional weight off our shoulders. For example, we no longer try to fix problems that are beyond our ability to fix, such as a loved one’s addiction. Instead, we trust that our loved one is already whole and complete (in the eternal, spiritual sense) because of his or her personal connection to The Source. Once he or she acknowledges that connection with conviction, then the healing powers from The Source are no longer blocked, and healing can begin, often in miraculous ways. Until then, our loved one will continue to suffer.
- Even after we wash away the shadows from our life, they’ll return from time to time and fill us with dark, troubled thoughts… but as we practice these principles, it becomes faster and easier to wash them away again to restore peace and happiness.
- Don’t judge others’ suffering, but provide help if asked and if helping is appropriate. (“Appropriate” support—which often involves walking a fine line between detachment and entanglement, and which is not an easy line to walk—is a bit complicated for this short article.)
A final note [added 2019-11-8]: Even if killing and eating each other (as living things on Earth must do to survive) is really the root cause of suffering in our world (as I believe it is), then simply making a personal choice not to eat food, or not to eat animals, or not to eat mammals and “higher” animals will not put an end to personal suffering. Each person has unique nutritional needs. The entire carnivore-herbivore scenario of terrestrial living, with its predation, fear, resentment, and anguish, has developed across millions of years into this massive shadow of spiritual residue around the Earth. To live on Earth is to contend with the shadows and their many forms of physical and emotional suffering. We each have to make the best choices we can under the circumstances (nutritional and otherwise), and (again, it’s my belief) that acknowledging the source and its nourishing life-force can make our journey much brighter and more enjoyable as we navigate this often-brutal world.