From the time that my spiritual beliefs coalesced when I was around 19 or so, with the reading of the book “Seth Speaks”, I began to understand that certain features of my life were more or less designed for my own soul progress. We do have free-will, of course, but I believe that we do come into this life with a few per-determined agreements on what we would like to experience, or would be open to experience if the opportunity presents itself. For example, drug or alcohol addiction, abuse, certain health issues, and certainly our method of dying are all opportunities that we can use to learn important lessons, and for those around us to learn as well. I’ve heard it said that we’ve been the abuser and the abused; we’ve been killers and have been killed. We experience many roles in our lifetimes to gain the experience and knowledge that comes with living through these things.
Once I really began to internalize these things, I stopped looking at people who society might consider less fortunate and began to see them as more highly evolved spirits. The guy who chooses to experience homelessness, drug addiction and severe physical pain is someone that I typically look at and say “Wow, he choose such a difficult life for himself. What a strong spirit he must be to have agreed to undertake such a challenge in this life.”
Naturally, this leads me to compare my own life’s circumstances with the same critical eye. I know that we should never compare and contrast; because my soul chose my particular difficulties and challenges because they were the best for my soul progression at this time, but I can’t help it. I am feeling some spiritual guilt.
My life hasn’t been easy. Not by a long shot. I’ve had to face some some really harrowing, awful experiences. Some of these challenges I was born into; but much of it was the result of my own choices. Certainly, as the result of my own flaws and shortcomings, I created situations that were extremely difficulty to climb back out of. These lessons were difficult but ultimately very rewarding. I have learned from these lessons and my soul has been positively transformed. But just when I begin to congratulate myself on my accomplishments, I am reminded of the millions of people who are currently engaged in the kind of suffering that is truly mind-boggling. For example, the suffering masses currently engaged in the Syrian refugee crisis. Compared to them, my life starts to look downright cushy and I begin to feel ashamed for any pride I might have felt at overcoming my own hardships.
Why was I born to a middle-class white family in America? Why did I choose to come in as a physical healthy, relatively attractive female in the richest country in the world? Was it because my soul couldn’t handle anything else? It’s a stupid way to think, I know, but I can’t help it.
Like most people, I was deeply affected by the image of that little boy washing up on the shore after his boat capsized. His father has lost his wife and child and now has returned to Syria to face burying his family and returning to a life destroyed by both war and the callous rejection from other people. Why wasn’t I born in Syria, into the horrors of civil war, desperately fleeing the country, only to be treated like human scum by other European countries?
My first world problems seem ridiculous in comparison, especially the ones that were self-inflicted. Suddenly, I look back on my life and see myself as a selfish jerk who could have avoided a lot of the pain that I caused simply by being smarter and more compassionate. My family wasn’t rich or anything, but I was born with the freedom to grow up and pursue whatever I wanted as a career, and opportunities to go to college. When I failed, I always had a home to go back to. My parents, though divorced now, are loving, wonderful people. There was so much that I was given, so much that I took for granted, that I wonder if perhaps I’m a spiritual infant; buffered from the real world and only taking my first steps into the harsh cold reality of human life. My goodness, what will happen when I spiritually mature? What kind of suffering must I endure then to grow? I can only hope that when my turn comes to face that those challenges, that I will be spiritually mature enough to handle it.
There was a time when I thought I must be highly evolved because I could see past the bullshit materialism and consumerism that seems to swallow up the time and attention of everyone else. I spent most of my life thirsting to learn about the world and answer the big questions about life and death. I have always been very spiritual and aware of the interconnectedness of all things. I thought my intelligence and rejection of the material world somehow propelled me to the front of the life. What an arrogant fool I was.
I eschewed consumerism while always having enough to eat. I rejected materialism while maintaining a great job and having decent shelter. I dedicated my life to learning and pursuing answers to big, spiritual ideas because I could; I wasn’t fighting for my life, surrounded by death, destruction and war. Instead, I had the luxury of pursuing spirituality at my leisure because the rest of my life was relatively stable. That is no accomplishment; it’s simply decadence veiled in the appearance of modesty.
Now, I know that I shouldn’t think this way, and I’m sure if I was getting advice from my soul, I would be told that it’s not fair to compare one life to another, because we all have our own path and our own lessons to learn. I’ve read that there really are no ‘levels’ persay, just intensities. In addition, time is not truly linear. We are supposedly living all of our lives at the same time. Its possible that I am living a life like that somewhere right now, perhaps in another time frame. It’s just hard to believe that if we are here on earth to learn and grow that we’d be thrown into the most difficult scenarios right off the bat. I don’t know how time really works in the spiritual world, but I think we must give ourselves only what we think we can handle. Perhaps that’s a result of my ego, my humanness.. but suddenly, I feel very small and very humble.
Next time you look at a person who lives on the street, or watch the Syrians being herded like cattle into camps without food or water, watch people starving in other countries or being tortured – consider that these are spirits who have chosen some of the most difficult lives to endure here on Earth; their lessons will be hard but their spiritual evolution will be rapid. That homeless guy on the street with no legs that you passed by this morning with nary a glance? That might have been Jesus right there. Certainly, Jesus would have chosen a life like that; not a life like mine. If you believe the bible stories, he was born in a stable. And though I don’t ascribe particularly to the veracity of the bible, I think there is a lot of wisdom to having your messiah be born into difficult circumstances. The Christians recognize the value of spiritual humility as well. Christ, one of the most evolved souls, came into this world to face a life that would ultimately end in persecution and suffering. I think the lesson here is the same: to evolve spiritually, we must face increasingly more difficult challenges. We wouldn’t be reading about Christ if he had been born in the suburbs and spent his time blogging.
As I lay down in my comfortable bed, I am saying a prayer for the real spiritual warriors out there, living lives not only for their own spiritual growth, but sacrificing for the spiritual growth of others. At the very least, I have learned a great lesson tonight about spiritual arrogance. It serves no one and certainly doesn’t aid your spiritual growth. Before you derive any pride from your own suffering, please take a look at what real suffering truly looks like. Then you are welcomed to join me back in spiritual kindergarten.