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Being Joyful in a Pain-filled World

How can I be truly joyful while surrounded by so much suffering?”  This was the question posed by a friend last week and my guess is that many of us have had similar ponderings.

The jagged and jarring scenes of suffering that fill our collective field of vision and surface feelings of despair and despondency are the precipitates and products of past thoughts and actions.  In contradistinction to this pain, the heart-lighted joy we sense burning deep inside the innermost repository of the heart is the eternal presence of fiery Hope.  Hope-filled seeds of new possibilities containing the promise of a brighter future are waiting to be called forth and sown but first we have to clear and prepare a suitable space in which they will germinate and flourish.

What we are witnessing is the natural outworking of the spiritual axiom that states: “Energy follows thought.”  Whatever we seed and broadcast into the ethers from the ‘inside’ must eventually show up and take form on the ‘outside’.  Simply stated: “our karmic chickens are coming home to roost.”

The present drama being played out on the world stage by a global cast of characters is a vivid portrayal of all that we have set in motion together over the decades.  If we do not like the story-so-far, then Life is inviting us to re-write the script and shift from projecting a horror movie onto the big screen of the human psyche to co-producing a love story that touches and ignites all hearts.  

For the new story to be endowed with our highest qualities and aspirations it needs to be crafted by both heart and mind in every moment of every day.  The joyful invitation to participate in this Magnum Opus as co-authors of a new civilization has been issued by the Soul of Humanity.  Each of us has a choice as to how we will most powerfully and effectively respond to this creative opportunity.  Failure to respond ensures the continuing reign of the old.  For those entrapped in the old story who have lost faith and are unable to sense the longed-for brighter future already emerging, I pray they may hear and register the encouraging words of Arundhati Roy.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing.”

Understanding and resolving the conundrum of pain and joy co-existing inside the same temporal arc is an urgent task facing us if we are to remain positive and undeterred by the implosions and perturbations of a society in upheaval.  One possible personal response is to develop and expand a compassionate heart that can both hold and heal the pain and trauma of the past and also function as a welcoming field of birth and nurturing in which the dreams of a more just and joyful future may successfully grow and glow.  

It is essential to remember that our daily lives are neither petty not meaningless – they are cosmic in scope and despite all the daily indications to the contrary, each one of us is playing a vital part in the grand outworking of the Holy Trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty on Earth.  We are sacred fractals of a boundless Unified Field of Being and our deep history is interwoven with the vast and never-ending Story of Creation.

As a society, we are living in extremely tense times and yet, at the personal level, we have constantly inhabited an inner field of tension – one created by the gap existing between our ideal of what life could be and our present capacity to realize and deliver on this dream.  This ‘creative gap’ generates a sense of dissatisfaction and stimulates a renewed call from the Soul to close the distance between the two.  

The Ageless Wisdom teaching speaks of Divine Discontent and Dissatisfaction as dynamic tension between the eternal promise held within the Essential Seed of Self and our present inability to express this inner truth.  The ‘spark gap’ between these two dimensions generates a fire of deep desire to seek further levels of skill, capacity and maturity in the ceaseless striving towards fulfillment and self-realization.  Discontent is the dynamo that drives all life forward.  It is the compelling, impelling and propelling force that never lets us become satisfied and ‘rest on our laurels’.  Our soul is a dynamic presence of radiant light, love and joy that will not allow us to ‘wither on the vine’ or sink into the illusory comfort and immobility of the status quo.  It is continually conspiring to disrupt our periods of quiet repose to ensure that what we dream in our hearts is realized in full, fiery embodied beauty through right thought and right action. Thus, divine discontent and dissatisfaction constitute a formidable spiritual life insurance policy against the onset of stagnation and entropy.

However, if the spark gap becomes too wide and unbridgeable, instead of igniting and inspiring us to quicken our steps on the upward spiral path of growth, the field collapses and we can all too easily sink into a state of despondency and despair.  Sadly, this is what we see around us in many parts of our local and global community.  Much of humanity is discouraged and trapped in this yawning gap as we seek to come to terms with the painful fact that what we have created by way of a modern society does not yet fully honor the principles, values and qualities of the soul. 

One of our main tasks of community service must surely be to rekindle the Fire of Hope in the heart of humanity that will eventually lead us, “from darkness into light and from the unreal to the real”.  We do this at Meditation Mount by affirming the Principle of Essential Divinity which declares and assures us that a Spark of the Eternal Flame lives and burns steadily in the heart of each person.  By recognizing this shared reality of deep identity in each other, we draw upon greater strength and courage to persevere as we journey together through the current challenging psychological landscape that resembles what the 23rd Psalm calls, “the valley of the shadow of death”.

The potency and flaming presence of the One Life residing within each soul is the true Fire of Hope.  It is our shared destiny and joyful responsibility to help manifest that which has been called “the coming new soul-centered civilization.”  Dr Roberto Assagioli (founder of the spiritual psychology ‘Pyschosynthesis’ and the inspiration behind Meditation Mount) emphatically declared that:

“Spiritual Joy is a duty towards others. At every step on our way we should help our brothers and sisters to share in the treasures which we have discovered, in the benefits which have been showered upon us, in the powers which are developing in us.  This is the unchangeable law of justice and of love, the direct expression of the fundamental unity of all beings. Thus, whoever attains the first illuminations must share them with others.  One of the most effective ways of doing this is by pouring out upon them our own joy.”

In his lectures, Dr Assagioli often pointed out that the illumined soul which has vitally experienced the purifying and elevating action of suffering not only does no longer flee it, not only endures it patiently and accepts it with good will, but finally comes to rejoice in it.  The strength of the Spirit renders the cross light, the light of the Spirit renders the cross luminous.  Our human family now stands at a critical crossroad. 

We are earnestly knocking on the door of a better future but the portal remains temporarily barred by a Dweller on the Threshold.  We are being denied access because, collectively, we have yet to find the magic key that will redeem the past and unlock the gates of the desired new world.  This hidden key is the Fire of Love – safeguarded deep within the cave of the human heart.  

As a species, we are crossing a burning ground where purifying fires are available to consume the dross and detritus of the past in order to liberate us from a self-constructed prison of unskillful living.  When our psychic field has been sufficiently burned and cleared and the Dweller courageously faced, the Fire of Love can take up full residence and govern wisely.  To safely house this Divine Fire, we must first build a suitable fireplace in which the spiritual combustion and divine conflagration can occur and, as far as we know, the most apposite hearth is an open and loving heart.  

The following words from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offer us hope and a glimpse of the real power that will joyfully unlock the door to a more soul-inspired future.

“Someday, after we have mastered the winds and the waves and the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of Love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire.”

Michael Lindfield Board President Meditation Mount

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