8. HOW CAN PERCEPTION OF ORDER OF DIFFICULTIES BE AVOIDED? P 1
1 The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.
I understand this problem. Life can appear to be very chaotic as I am bombarded with people and situations that vie for my attention. Because of past learning, I categorize them according to importance to me and according to urgency. This is the way we think we have to live. There are books written to help us learn how to best juggle these choices because for some, it becomes confusing and overwhelming and there seems to be a desperate need to get it right.
Two common categories are good and bad. I want to work in my garden and I want to visit my daughter and granddaughter. These are, in my estimation, good things. I had to get my taxes prepared and I know someone who is suffering. I put these in the bad category. Dealing with the good stuff is no problem for me unless something gets in the way. Dealing with the bad stuff goes into the procrastinate or deny file or the get it over with file.
I try to organize my life in such a way that the good comes first and the bad is dealt with without too much suffering. It is the way I have always tried to make sense of life and to bring some sort of peace to my life. What Jesus is saying here is that my efforts will not work, and I know he is right.
For instance, I have waited until nearly the last minute to get my tax information together so I can bring it to the preparer. The reason it has become such an unpleasant task is that I dislike the whole ordeal so much that I ignore it all year, failing to organize as I go. I ignore any opportunity to learn what is important and why and so I feel inadequate to do this and that makes the process a little scary.
This year was worse than usual, so I tried to control my mounting panic by bringing the idea of organization to a new level. My tax information may or may not be complete and accurate, but the finished product looks great! I put it all in a binder with tabs to indicate the different categories and zippered pockets for the smaller receipts so they would not get lost.
It goes even further, but you get the picture. This is me trying to convince myself that I understand my world and am at peace in it. But underneath, I don’t feel peaceful about it because I have glossed over my true concerns. It is like I put makeup over a dirty face to disguise the problem and then called it a day. And this is just one situation among many that call for my attention.
Now here is something that happened in this situation that gave me a clue that I was handling this all wrong. I had one issue with the tax information that I thought was not right but couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I worried about it but didn’t know what to do. This went on for three days as I tried to ignore it, and deny it, and to procrastinate some more. Finally, after I had given up and was just going to hope for the best, I surrendered the problem to God. And the answer just came to me, and it was so simple.
So this morning as I read the paragraph for today, I thought about what my life would be like if I did not try to decide with the ego thinking mind what everything is for and what it all means. What if I didn’t try to organize all these disparate things at all? What if I didn’t divide life into categories of good and bad, for instance?
The ego mind argues that this is impossible and that nothing would get done and the result would be chaos. But just from this one situation with the taxes, I see that all is chaos now. I see that working with just the ego mind to decide and direct causes uncertainty and fear, not to mention guilt that I did such a poor job all year. And then I saw that when I finally gave up the possibility that I could do this one final task and surrendered it to God, everything fell quickly into place. The ego must be wrong.
What if I did not judge anything that occurred, that I did not separate and categorize my life at all? What if I didn’t dread tax season every year but simply did what needed to be done trusting that I have loving Presence ever ready to help me whatever my need? What if I saw my suffering friend as fully capable through the Presence of Love in his mind to deal with his situation? Then the situation would not be different than any other situation.
I have already seen that when I surrender my life to God, I am gently uplifted and carried. But this desire to decide on my own what everything means and what should be done about all the separate elements, how to categorize them and to decide which ones are important and which ones are not, takes it out of God’s hands and leaves me on my own again.
I imagine, instead, a life that is a series of events with only one meaning and one purpose, not good or bad, important or unimportant. I imagine every event being perfect in its time and then being gone to make room for the next perfect moment. I imagine using each moment in whatever way the Holy Spirit would have me use it. I imagine being in joy regardless of what seems to be happening because I am living a life of purpose that is not my own, but God’s.