What if it is only possible to constantly evolve into an ever growing awareness of who we are as constituent parts of the Divine? What if every single incarnation--rather than being a karmic reward or punishment for the life that preceded it--is actually one incremental stitch in the whole fabric of I AM? But we could only imagine that possible if we begin to see through the eyes of Oneness, rather than those of the duality trance state in which we all live.
The duality trance state is basically a hypnotic state in which we see ourselves as separate from the Divine. And mostly we rationalize this separation by saying that humans are evil and the Divine is good, so that we cannot exist in the presence of the Divine because there is a disparate energy between goodness and evil. They are opposite sides of a continuum and must always maintain that polarized positioning. This entire belief is called duality. There is a two, not a One. And of course, we can look all around us and find evidence for this notion. But what we don't ever question is which came first, duality or the belief in duality?
But the simple fact is that if we did not believe in duality, we would probably find other names for "good" and "evil." We might even call them something like "sighted" or "blind." Categorizing all of life into one of these two categories--goodness or evil--means that we stay at the shallow end of the pool when it comes to spiritually connecting to other people and all of life. Not only are the terms very culturally driven, but they mean that we don't have to think about it any further once we have labeled something as either good or evil. Once the label is in place, there is no need for any further examination and we can wash our hands of it entirely.
But what if it were true that we are One with the Divine, yet we do not see this due to the blindness created by the duality trance state. Well then if that were true, then both goodness--or the striving for it--and badness in all of its various identifications, are but forms of blindness. We don't really need to strive to be good if we are already One with the Divine, and we don't need to identify with bad--as many do--because we are already One with the Divine.
Identification with bad or evil works similarly to this example. As a child my parents, who happen, in this example, to be hyper-religious, do not have much time or energy to attend to me except when I'm bad. They basically treat me as if I don't exist, except when I've done something that absolutely requires their intervention. At this point, however, they pay me a great deal of attention as they lecture me, hit me, tell my how bad I am, get out their religious texts and tell me that this kind of behavior leads to evil, etc. So, since I'm still trying to figure out who I am and looking for mirrors to define me, I will look into that mirror and determine that unless I am bad I do not exist. Ergo, I'll need to up the ante every time I'm triggered to think I don't exist. I'll need to demonstrate behavior that gets worse and worse over time in order to garner the attention I need to believe that I exist. Ultimately I may become a serial killer in some kind of compulsive pattern in an effort to prove to myself and others that I actually do exist. This may be one of the primary reasons why a serial killer needs such media attention. But am I really evil, or have I just put on this mask and costume as a way of surviving--i.e., existing? In the same way, I might design a life of goodness, in which I sacrifice myself to the service of others because I fear that if I don't constantly strive to be good, that bad person I really am might present itself to the world. But does this mean I'm really good, or have I just put on that mask and costume and lived out that role in order to prove that I'm not bad?
Obviously, these are fairly extreme examples, but they make the point that so-called goodness and badness are useful for categorization and little else. If we had no such categories, children looking for mirrors in which to find themselves would not be able to identify with them, and things on the duality plane of existence would change dramatically. A soulful identity is not so much concerned with goodness or badness, but with soulfulness or lack of it, with truth or fiction. But this is not what we've been taught, and we fear that if we teach this we are giving too much responsibility to persons who may not handle it well, or handle it in the way we'd like for them to handle it. So it is that our entire institutional world is run by the rules, which people variously obey and disobey. And thus it is that we feel we can have a failed life.
A failed life, according to the duality trance state, is one in which we do not do anything good and then we die. "What a waste," we say, in sorrow and disgust. But is it? Do we know what that person's soul was doing? Do we know which incremental part of that person's evolution was being woven in the fabric I AM--even through an experience we judge to be bad? What if that person came here to have that very experience, because such an experience shifted things around inside and prepared him for the next life--and each of those lives was moving the person just a little closer--through those very experiences--to awareness of who he is as Divine Self? Our judgments are a poor substitute for discernment.
If this is true then there is no such thing as a failed life. There are only lives in which each person's experience creates alchemical shifts within that push his evolutionary process. Further every time his experience impacts others, the others are likewise pushed to evolve toward greater awareness. If we knew this, really knew it, not only would we stop categorizing, but we'd also relax a little more into the process of unfoldment. We'd come to understand karma as the soul's intention to bring us to full awareness--full body AND mind awareness--of who we are as Divine beings. We'd be looking for the gift in everything. So, I encourage people to try it out for a week. See if it fits.