One of the greatest attributing factors to the experience of suffering in the physical world is our need to continually perceive and label events and situations in our lives as either good or bad. All perception is illusion. Good and bad are relative terms just like big and small or high and low, so they cannot be used to truthfully describe anything. What seems good to one person could seem bad to someone else. What seems big to someone might seem small to someone else. Perception is entirely dependent upon our own personal point of view.
Penicillin could mean death to someone who is allergic to it and it could be an absolute life savor to someone who is not, so we can’t honestly say that penicillin is good or bad. An unplanned pregnancy could be completely terrifying to one person and totally exhilarating to someone else, so we can’t honestly say that pregnancy is good or bad. The truth is that without having any foresight into a person’s future we can’t know what each experience will turn into. Some of the things that we perceive to be terrible will oftentimes end up being the best things that ever happened to us in hindsight. Likewise some of the things that we perceive to be amazing will oftentimes end up being less than appealing upon gazing back at them.
Unfortunately when we perceive and then label something as good we set ourselves up to experience something else that we will most likely perceive as bad. The nature of the physical world is dualistic so every action must have an equal and opposite reaction in order to maintain an equilibrium. When a pendulum swings to the right side it has to swing back to the left side with equal momentum. The same is also true with our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The ego loves to use extreme opposites to keep us bouncing around in duality between positive and negative experiences.
If we allow our perception to support this idea that some things are positive and some things are negative then our lives will feel like a roller coaster that never ends. As soon as we experience something that we perceive to be a high then the ego will immediately balance it out with something that we perceive to be a low. For example, if one were to drink excessive amounts of alcohol to experience a high or a buzz, the high would be temporary and succeeding the good feelings induced by the alcohol would be the bad feelings brought on by the hangover the next day. If one were to avoid getting buzzed or high from drinking by either drinking small amounts of alcohol or by not drinking at all then one would also avoid experiencing the balancing low of the hangover that would most certainly follow.
Alcohol is just one way in which we can ride this roller coaster in the physical world of duality. The hangover is a universal experience. When we don’t do things in moderation we experience an imbalance. When our emotions are not moderate or neutral, or when we have intense emotional highs then we will have intense emotional hangovers. The key to experiencing peace in every step of our lives is to keep a neutral point of view. Our view points don’t always have to consist of seeing things as either black or white. We always have the option to look at all the possible shades of grey in between.
There are an infinite number of possibilities that fall on the spectrum between extreme opposites and we must only remember to look for them. Every time we find ourselves eager to label something as bad we just need to stop to look at all the other choices. Each experience leads us to another experience and so on. A situation in our lives that we may perceive to be bad may actually be moving us in the direction that could be the most beneficial on our journey towards self-realization. If we look back at the events and situations in our lives that we labeled as bad we can see that those experiences were actually things that helped us to spiritually unfold. In fact we most likely caused ourselves much unnecessary pain and suffering because of our distorted view point. It is not the situations in our lives that cause us suffering but rather it is the way we misinterpret or misperceive them.
Being for or against anything enslaves us. If we are for something and it does not turn out the way we imagined it to then we experience frustration. If we are against something and it happens anyway despite our resistance then we experience discontent. However we only experience frustration and discontent because we have a distorted point of view that is telling us that things should be different than they actually are or that things are not unfolding perfectly when in fact they actually are. It is only when we have total acceptance for what actually is that we can be free.
If we want to be seekers of truth then we must refrain from seeing things as either good or bad. We must learn to see things as they actually are. The truth is that everything is unfolding perfectly. All events are flawlessly ruled by the Law of Karma and the Law of Cause and Effect. They are neither good nor bad but they are exactly as they should be. The Divine is present within all things so if we really take the time to scrutinize each experience that we encounter we can find a masterful lesson woven into each and every one of them.
If we could see things through a neutral lens we would be able to avoid the emotional ups and downs that cause us so much suffering. Neutrality allows us to experience all of the infinitely beautiful grey area in between the extremes. Within these grey areas we have unlimited choices and unlimited view points. This middle ground is often where we find the sweet spots in life, the places that bring us the most peace and harmony, and the places that are devoid of inexhaustible hangovers. We have the choice in every moment to either acknowledge the perfection of the Divine or to ignore it. We can choose peace or we can choose suffering but the miracle is that if we unintentionally choose suffering in any given moment, there will always be another chance to choose again momentarily.
Rev. Marcy Ellen is the author of The Soul Truth; Reflections of the Waking Soul and the Media Director for Simple Love Advice. She is a spiritual teacher, writer, life coach, speaker, and radio host with a Master of Divinity Degree from The University of Metaphysical Sciences. www.simpleloveadvice.com