By Jin-yeong Yi
“What is the best consolation in sorrow and in misfortune? … It is for a man to accept everything as if he had wished for it and had asked for it; for you would have wished for it, if you had known that everything happens by God’s will, with his will and in his will.”
“For I am already that which I seek. Whatever I seek or think I want, however long the shopping list may be, all of my desires are only a reflection of my longing to come home. And home is oneness, home is my original nature. It is right here, simply in what is. There is nowhere else I have to go, and nothing else I have to become.”
“A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your problems are so unreal!”
“The Lord is everywhere /And always perfect: / What does He care for man’s sin / Or the righteousness of man?”
As the world comes to an end–of another year, that is–most of us probably have our heads full with anticipation and apprehension of what lies ahead.
I’m still a pessimistic atheistic nihilist, but I like to indulge in possibilities, so please humor me by considering some ideas that I’ve been turning over in my head.
Since you are here, I invite you to take a moment to look back on the past year. Did you make any decisions you regret? Embarrassing behavior, poorly executed plans, wasted opportunities? Would you go back and change anything if you could? Now take a longer moment to look back on your life up this point as a whole, and ask yourself the same questions.
I’m probably not wrong in guessing that there were a lot of things that didn’t go your way, and that even if things went your way for the most part, you’re still not completely content–you want more of this and less of that.
Some of you may be deeply depressed–to the point where you wish to die or at least depersonalize so you can comfortably observe your life in third person.
Many commentators on Neon Genesis Evangelion complain about Shinji’s constant whining about his woes, but I’m sure most of us can sympathize to some degree: how many of us never find themselves in circumstances and situations they would rather not be in–mundane, tedious, frustrating, arduous, painful, pointless?
Doesn’t the world look awful right now? Doesn’t it look downright hopeless at times? Wars, economic depression, poverty, pollution, overpopulation, ethnic-religious-political strife, concentration camps, environmental destruction, natural disasters, child abuse, breakdown in human relationships…how many libraries can be filled with volumes on what we consider to be wrong with this world? And worst of all, doesn’t it all look meaningless? And even worse…ultimately beyond our control?
As Joseph Conrad lamented in a 1897 letter to Cunninghame Graham:
“It evolved itself (I am severely scientific) out of a chaos of scraps of iron and behold! — it knits. I am horrified at the horrible work and stand appalled. I feel it ought to embroider — but it goes on knitting. You come and say: ‘this is all right; it’s only a question of the right kind of oil. Let us use this — for instance — celestial oil and the machine shall embroider a most beautiful design in purple and gold.’ Will it? Alas no. You cannot by any special lubrication make embroidery with a knitting machine. And the most withering thought is that the infamous thing has made itself; made itself without thought, without conscience, without foresight, without eyes, without heart. It is a tragic accident — and it has happened. You can’t interfere with it. The last drop of bitterness is in the suspicion that you can’t even smash it. In virtue of that truth one and immortal which lurks in the force that made it spring into existence it is what it is — and it is indestructible!
It knits us in and it knits us out. It has knitted time space, pain, death, corruption, despair and all the illusions — and nothing matters.”
Now put such judgments aside for a moment and consider this possibility: that life is a movie written and directed by a cosmic Director–call It God, or Brahman, or Consciousness, or whatever suits your fancy. Suppose that this Director is perfect–It knows exactly what each scene calls for. All of the details are impeccably balanced together. A perfect movie is in the making as we speak–and we are starring in it.
As most of us would agree, a good movie does not necessarily mean a good life for the characters. A director getting his or her way often entails a character not getting his or her way. If movie characters were capable of thinking independently, not a few of them would probably question the decisions made by a director, unable to see how all the pieces fit. If a good director knows what’s best for his or her movie, think how much truer this would be of a perfect Director.
You may not be satisfied with what you are, but as far as the Director is concerned, you are perfect for Its purposes. Your hair color is perfect. Your skin color is perfect. Your height is perfect. Your weight is perfect. Your IQ is perfect. Your knowledge is perfect. Your ignorance is perfect. Your beliefs are perfect. Your likes and dislikes are perfect. Your joys and sorrows are perfect. Your pleasures and problems are perfect. Your thought process is perfect. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Every single decision you’ve made hitherto is perfect, and every single decision you will make hereafter will be perfect.
If your role is to succeed, you will succeed. If your role is to fail, you will fail. If your role is to die a peaceful death after a long and happy life, you will die a peaceful death (in your sleep, perhaps) after a long and happy life. If your role is to die a violent death after a short and troubled life, you will die a violent death (by your own hand, perhaps) after a short and troubled life. Either way, you will have fulfilled your role–there’s no way you cannot fulfill your role. Your every move, your every line–all of it is without flaw. No matter how insignificant you may be, you complete the picture–that is why you are here.
What you were yesterday was perfect. What you are today is perfect. What you will be tomorrow will be perfect.
If you are uncomfortable with this idea, then allow me to ask you another question: what are you, really? Are you a character in this movie? Or are you the One Who is running the show?
This blog post, written by someone whose writing skills clearly leave much to be desired, is perfect. Your opinion of this blog post, dear reader, whether it is positive or negative, in agreement or disagreement, is perfect.
I am perfect. You are perfect. The world is perfect. Life is perfect. Everything is for the best.
Whether or not we know this. Whether or not we accept this. Whether or not we are at peace with this. God’s in His heaven–all’s right with the world.
It may be so. It may not be so.
It’s possible, isn’t it?
Ramesh S. Balsekar – A Duet of One: The Ashtavakra Gita Dialogue
Meister Eckhart – Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense
I am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Dennis Waite – How to Meet Yourself…and find true happiness
Paramahansa Yogananda – Why God Permits Evil and How to Rise Above It