Reality v. What Most People Think


7601974_orig - altered

                                       What most people assume to be the case

.

7601974_orig

                                                 What actually IS the case
.
                              (from http://www.johnptacek.com/gallery.html)

.

This is not something that most of us generally want to admit or consider, but there are times when a difficult person is our teacher, even our greatest teacher.

And the lessons difficult people have to teach us tend to be some of the most difficult lessons to learn–lessons about love, tough love, loss, patience, persistence, endurance, adversity, difficulty, forgiveness, resilience, et cetera. 

Because the lessons are difficult and unpleasant, those who pass on the lessons or try to teach them too can become unpleasant and difficult, sometimes by extension, sometimes by association, sometimes because they themselves become calloused and hardened–in the eyes of us who have not yet learned the lessons they now know so well.   

There are times we might consider someone a difficult person because what they have to impart is very profound and so many levels above our own thinking, that what they have to say is difficult for us to accept and make sense of and digest intellectually and emotionally. 

Other times difficult people are difficult because they are annoying or gossipy or angry mean-spirited chaotic people, and so our task in those situation is to practice (learn)patience, a bit more tolerance, to try to see or grasp their humanity (perhaps their life story, if we knew it, or what they’re going through, if we knew it, would greatly change how we view them; so instead of viewing them as a nuisance, we would see them with much more compassion), and to see if there’s some way we might help add a little depth and self-awareness to their lives through what we say or through our own presence.

Spiritual practices are not there to provide us with insulation, escape, new ways of numbing ourselves.  Rather, they are there to help us show up to reality with greater clarity and understanding and awareness and insight.

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift
.”
– “The Uses of Sorrow,” Mary Oliver

[T]he aim of a spiritual practice is not to develop an attitude which allows a person to acquire a state of harmony and peace wherein nothing can ever trouble him. On the contrary, a truly spiritual practice should teach him to let himself be assaulted, perturbed, moved, insulted, broke and battered—that is to say, it should enable him to dare to let go his futile hankering after harmony, surcease of pain, and want of a comfortable life in order that he may discover, in doing battle with the forces that oppose him, that which awaits him beyond the world of opposites.
.
The first necessity is that we should have the courage to face life and encounter all that is most perilous in the world.
.
When this is possible, meditation itself becomes the means by which we accept and face and confront the demons which arise from the unconscious—a process very different from the practice of concentration on some objects as a protection against such forces. Only if we venture repeatedly through zones of annihilation, can our contact with what is Divine, with what is beyond annihilation, become firm and stable.
.
The more a person learns wholeheartedly to confront a world and way of living that threatens him with isolation, the more are the depths of the Ground of Being revealed and the possibilities of new life and Becoming opened for him.
.
Karlfried Graf von Durckheim, “The Way of Transformation,” pp. 107-8.

.

Related Articles:
Advertisements

One thought on “Reality v. What Most People Think

  1. Hi John,

    I stumbled upon your blog looking online for a copy of “The Man Watching” to send to a friend.) I only read some of what you’ve written (and will read the rest when I have a chance), but what I did read resonated deeply. I’m a writer, too, and in the process of putting into words much of the feeling that permeates your blog. It’s a hard road to travel, but a more fulfilling one in the end despite the price you have to pay. (You may not get rich in this life, but you get richness.)

    I’m sorry you lost your mom. Cancer is a bitch as I found out when I went through chemo nine years ago. But I’m still here, so that was the attached gift. Also, congrats on the birth of your child.

    Thank you for posting this. The world would be a much kinder place if everyone chose consciousness instead of denial. Also, Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death” and Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” are two of the most important books I’ve ever read.

    Best,

    Kim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s