The lesson of life

In the following article I would like to relate to a common perception among spiritual and religious people that life keeps offering the same lesson again and again until we learn the teaching of the lesson.

As a result of our upbringing, we are accustomed to think of our existence in terms of punishment and reward. From the moment we are babies with the ability to sense intonations and read facial expressions, our environment trains us to react to reward and punishment. Reward can be in the form of a subtle smile or soft voice, all the way to receiving a cookie or having a fun day with Dad. Punishment can be as subtle as a slight raising of the voice at us, all the way being grounded with no TV privileges.

We cannot shake these conceptual associations even when we are grown up and we think of ourselves as free people. You can hit your baby toe painfully on the leg of the coffee table and your mind immediately will relate to it as a punishment for something “bad” you did, said, or thought a minute ago.

What is the lesson when a tree breaks in the wind?

What is the lesson when a flower is eaten by a deer?

What is the lesson when the phone rings when you are asleep?

The idea of Life giving us a lesson is a spiritual cliché. Who outside of our self gives us a lesson?

Who is life?

Are the trees giving us a lesson?

Or maybe the galaxies are giving us a lesson?

Are the atoms giving us a lesson?

Or maybe the molecules are giving us a lesson?

Are those that have already died giving us a lesson?

Or maybe those that are not yet born?

Or maybe God?

This kind of perception is naive. The problem in our perceptions of higher powers (or in whatever you name it) is that we reflect our own limitations and ways of experiencing reality upon these “powers”. We do not have much choice in our perceptions as we can perceive reality only from what we know.

Let’s take the concept of God. No matter what the religion is that represents God, God is always perceived in the form of the mind. We picture God within our own picture. We apply our own virtues and qualities to God. Because we experience anger, our God gets angry; because we punish and are punished, our God punishes; because we experience love, our God loves; because we ask for forgiveness, our God forgives; because we become jealous, our God gets upset when we lose faith in himher, etc. So who gives us lessons? Does God get up in the morning and create a schedule for the lessons of the year?

God: “So lets see what we have here; John should get Lesson Number 14. Bankruptcy will help him learn about his ego. The Manchester team should lose the World Cup so their followers will finally learn how to behave nicely during games. And Iraq, let’s see, Iraq should get Lesson Number 568. I guess we should send America to help them with their lesson as America is known as a very good tutor; after all, they helped Vietnam to graduate. (At this point, God is not really sure what lesson Iraq needs to receive but it is already written in his agenda, so why not.)”

What is interesting is that “lessons” always come in a painful way. Why is this? A lesson is an action that you learn something from. You can learn a lesson driving a car and because you are good at it, your next lesson is learning to drive a truck. Because you are a great student, your next lesson is learning to fly an airplane, and because you are so dedicated, your next lesson is learning to fly a spaceship.

In so-called spirituality, the lesson is to say in politically correct terms that someone got hit by life badly. For example: George received a million dollars in the lottery to teach him about gratitude, but he didn’t get the lesson so he received another million dollars. George still felt unlucky. It was only when he won the third million dollars that he started to appreciate the flow of life. So, if you win the lottery three times, you are considered lucky, but if you get hit by a car, there is a lesson in that?

So, no one above you or below you is teaching you anything. If you are a master, you may choose to turn an event in your life into a learning curve. At the end of the day, you are the teacher and the student.

Namaste
shakti mhi

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