Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Guiltless Wheel

Thoughtful of a good friend of mine who is suffering from a debilitating health condition, and has come to think of her ailments as payback for wrongs she has done earlier in life, I would like to take a moment to write a little of my view of life and the world.

I am taking a chance by blogging this for two reasons: firstly, my understanding is not whole nor near ready to be committed to screen. Secondly, I know there are many out there with different points of views, particularly those following a single god, who may disagree with what I am about to say.

Having thus disclaimed myself let me now speak of the Wheel.

The core difference between monotheistic and pagan beliefs is that monotheists see the world and life as being linear, while pagans see it as being cyclical.

Within the monotheistic view, a man is born, grows, becomes who he is and then dies, his soul migrating thereafter to an eternal place of peace or an eternal place of suffering depending on his deeds.

Pagans however (and I am generalizing here) see the world as a sequence of birth, growth, deeds and death, followed by another’s sequence of the same, in an eternal cycle.

Hence a pagan lives aware that he only has but the little time in this world he is given.

To where the soul migrates thereafter varies from pagan belief to pagan belief, though there is always the importance of honoring the dead, in particularly family members who have died, and by extension forefathers who have passed away.

Hence the notion of "Honoring one’s forefathers with one’s deeds," meaning to do honorable things in life, meaning to do good deeds, not to please a mighty god who will judge a man upon his death, but doing them to please those who lived before him, without the efforts of whom the man could not have been born nor live the life which he lives.

But let me take a turn here, for it is life and not afterlife I wish to speak of.

In the linear view of monotheism, it is natural to fall into a cause and effect understanding of the world, even when there is no direct connection between two given events. To draw an example (and a very superstitious one at that), if a man cheats another and later a branch falls on his head, it could be understood that this happened as a punishment for his earlier, wrongful deed... the "one god" being somehow behind this rebuke.  

In a cyclical view, it is understood that men will cheat and branches will fall as they always have, as they always will, and one event has little to do with the other, though it can be said, for argument’s sake, that the man who has a guilty conscience will resent the branch more, as the accident will ripple in his stressed state of mind.

What I want to get at (for this topic can digress in a dozen different directions) is that good things happen, and bad things happen, both for no good reason. The universe does not have a will to favor or obstruct any one particular individual, it simply "is."

Now, the universe is dynamic, and it can be influenced, and yes, it can favor or obstruct a man in a subtle way, but this has little to do with the man, and certainly nothing to do with morals. Understand that morals is a human concept, not one of nature, and it is man who will desperately try to understand the world in terms of good and evil, which is really a twisted notion of beneficial or harmful.
Bad things happen, good things happen, and we can only react. This is the wheel, always turning round and round, good things followed by bad, bad things followed by good, like the seasons of the year, summer followed by winter, winter followed by summer.

Thus it may be best not to see the universe in a moral context of cause and effect, of guilt and reproach, but just as it is; good and bad things happening at random, or at least, for reasons which do not involve any one person individually.

So what is the point?

Just like in the eye of the storm it is the most peaceful, at the center of the wheel it is the most stable. The way to get there is not to get too excited when things are good and not to become too desperate when things are bad. This goes along with what Buddhists would call "to follow the middle way."

But let me go back to the turn of the seasons mentioned before, and let us look at trees: in winter, when conditions are harsh, trees shed their leaves ridding themselves of everything that is not strictly necessary. During this time they do not grow; they just survive. In summer, when conditions are optimal, the trees flourish with flowers and foliage, growing in girth and height, their seeds flying with the wind to spawn new saplings.

If one were to apply this same wisdom to one’s life it would read as follows: in times of harshness, cut back from all that is not strictly necessary; luxuries, comforts, treats (it is hard, I know). Do these things without questioning why bad times have befallen on you of all people, because they befall on everyone.

When times are good, celebrate and be merry. Further your plans, invest your time, work hard and make the most of the moment. Do this rather than just being grateful to a god (it is hard, I know). Good things befall on you because they befall on everyone.
To hold back when things are bad and go forth when things are good, to be proactive rather than reflective, to question not the reasons why good or bad things happen, to just understand that they happen and that it is the only thing one can do to make the most of any situation... This is the way of balanced, cyclical thinking.
Understand that good and bad things happening have nothing to do with you, but what you do with the situation does. It has everything to do with you. That is your turn at life and your responsibility; to do what you can with the time that you have.
Do not empower your grievances with guilt because you are only making your problems stronger. It is your charge to solve problems, to overcome obstacles and to defend your right to live your life to the fullest, and defend it with all that you got!
And finally, do not let guilt haunt you. Guilt is a correcting device meant to kick in when in the near of the possibility of making the same mistake again. That is where it belongs and that is where it must stay.   
If you messed up, just make sure you do not let it happen again the next time around (and you can bet there will be another time around, there always is).
Move on. Don't let guilt hold you back. 
Always remember you are an amazing being, full of life and full of light...
Stop dwelling on guilt, and shine!