Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
I think the most important question facing humanity is: Is the universe a friendly place? ~ Albert Einstein
If you knew for certain that the universe was a friendly place, how would your life be different? I think many of us believe this in a general sense, but the concept often goes out the window when something "bad" happens. And yet, those situations are exactly where the rubber really hits the road.
I've been pondering this since attending Byron Katie's School for the Work, because a friendly universe is what she unequivocally experiences. As she puts it, without "the story of a past" (which can lead to guilt, regret, anger, etc.) or "the story of a future" (leading to anxiety, fear, attempts to control) we are left with the friendly present. Without the images of past and future, we are aware of all the support available to us in this moment: the chair that holds us, the air we breathe, the body that breathes it.
I had a chance to test the theory of a friendly universe yesterday. Walking out to where my car was parked along a city street, I found that it had apparently been damaged by a hit and run driver, too severely to drive. Of course, I was immediately flooded with images of repair bills and deductibles, as well as the repetitive refrain "It's not fair!" How could this be friendly?
After calling the police and the insurance company, I went to work "inquiring" into my thoughts. When I clutched at the thought that the whole situation was unfair and unfriendly, I felt angry, worried and upset. This is what Katie calls suffering. When I experimented with letting the thought go, I had at least a few glimpses of how this could possibly be a friendly happening. For one thing, I've been trying to make up my mind about whether to go carless, and this seemed like a big nudge in that direction.
Other positive consequences might appear with time. Often when we look back we can clearly see how some of the worst experiences in our lives have held the most profound blessings - ones that we would not trade in hindsight. It would be nice if we could spare ourselves some of the suffering in the present that comes with resisting what happens. If the universe is truly friendly, can we simply trust that in the moment and relax into the support that surrounds us right now? I'm working on it.
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