World events don’t always follow the script you want or expect. But you can be sure that whatever unfolds in the world around you has a purpose, even if that purpose is difficult for you to see. At the personality level you imagine that it would be better if you never felt emotions like disappointment, fear, anxiety, or grief. But in the binary physical world these negative emotions are part of the experience. They come with the territory. You wouldn’t be getting the benefit of the full earth experience if you weren’t part of a drama that sometimes keeps you in suspense, sometimes causes you to worry, and sometimes makes you sad.
There is nothing wrong with reacting to a world event that you find upsetting by feeling the strong emotions that emanate from that event, even if those emotions are negative. You may reach a point of spiritual evolution where you are able to remain emotionally transparent to such events, or have only the most fleeting negative emotions—but part of the path for getting to that degree of mastery is to experience negative emotions so that you know what they are. In this way you will learn compassion. Indeed, one of the benefits of having a strong emotional reaction to a world event, whether that emotion is joyful or sad, is that it necessarily connects you to all the other people who are sharing that emotion. The real trick is to learn to be able to feel the connection without the emotion.
You’ve had two events in the past two weeks that are somewhat analogous. One has to do with the World Series ball game where there’s a winning team and a losing team. The winning team and it’s fans feel shared joy, the losing team and its fans feel shared disappointment and sadness. Everyone at one time or another feels joy or sadness. So it would be just as easy to tap into the group that’s sad as to the group that’s happy. If you look at the event from a very high level you can feel connected to both the winning and losing sides. In the paradigm of the ball game, this is easier to do than it is for you in the second event which is the political election where you feel the stakes are so much higher.
Yet on some levels, the stakes in the World Series are no more superficial than the stakes of the election. For while the outcome of these competitions seems significant and consequential, their only significance is in the way in which they set up distinct plots for people to work with as they write their own stories. So you might have a plot and a character where that character says “everything I wanted came to pass; everything was good; nothing bad happened; all my experiences were positive” or you could have the opposite, a character in a plot who says “everything went wrong; nothing good happened; all my experiences were negative.” But these distinctions really just come from the way each character chooses to frame the event. Because in the ultimate sense the plot is ever-changing and invariably is one in which you get an opportunity to experience both triumph and adversity.
If you had only triumphs and no adversity, you’d soon discover that earth life was unproductive at a spiritual level! Adversity brings with it opportunities for spiritual growth. I don’t mean simply that suffering enlarges the soul. Far from it! How you react to adversity is a choice. You can react with suffering, or react with the kind of feeling you might have about a rain storm or any kind of adverse weather event. You would find it challenging, but you would understand that you could choose to accept it as simply being the circumstances, the environment, the condition around you—but not give it the power to rob you of your ability to choose how to react to it.
When it rains, you put up an umbrella. If it floods you move to higher ground. If you’re struck by lightning and killed, you leave the earth plane and consider if you wish to have another go in another life! But even though each of these weather events is progressively more challenging, at each level of challenge you can choose how to respond.
There’s an opportunity to choose to be transparent when the world doesn’t go your way. There’s also the opportunity to choose to connect with the people whom you regard as being on the opposing team—to let yourself feel the ways in which their divinity is the same as your own. You’ve heard the expression “namaste” — I bow to the divine in you. When you lose a contest, most especially one in which you don’t like the victor, the benefit of bowing to the divine in the opposing team is even stronger because it is harder to do. It is easy, of course, to love those who are lovable. It’s much more difficult to love those who are not lovable. Yet learning to love those who are not lovable brings even more rewards. Among other things, it allows you to learn to love what you think of as the unlovable parts of yourself.
You can choose not to despair that the people you disagree with have prevailed, and instead choose to feel love for them—as challenging and difficult as that may be. If you can master that, you will have learned a great deal from earth life, where the opportunities for growth are great because of and not despite the drama.
Recognize that whether the day is sunny or rainy, whether the times are good or bad, whether you’re rich or poor, sick or healthy, it is you and not the circumstances you’re in that control how you react. You can choose to react to anything with joy, with compassion, with faith that the world is a perfect teaching machine. And even when you have classes that seem quite difficult, you can count on the fact that at some point you’ll graduate.
Let yourself be responsible only for your own choices. Sometimes you may feel responsible for the choices of others, as if what others have chosen to do, the policies they enact, or the hatreds they express, are somehow your fault—because you didn’t do enough to oppose them. But how much wiser it is to just let your feelings be a reflection of your own actions and not a reflection of the actions of others.
With your own life you are writing the story that you want to write. It doesn’t matter whether others give you a good review. It only matters that you write the story that you yourself want to write. In the same way, it isn’t necessary for you to review the stories of others, because, as I’ve said before, all such judgment's are really just self-judgments. And when you accept the stories of everyone else, when you accept their actions, when you love them despite their faults, you accept yourself, you love yourself without judgment. These are the keys to achieving greater transparency.
You can sail your own boat through fair weather and through storms by simply adjusting your sails to react to the wind and the weather that you encounter. The journey through earth life is challenging by design. For it is through these challenges that the lessons of self-love are learned.
Painting: Norman Rockwell, The Dugout, 1948, Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, September 4, 1948 - Transparent and opaque watercolor - 19 x 17 13/16 in.
Collection of the Brooklyn Museum