Once as Ram Dass was struggling personally with the rampant suffering in our world, Maharaj-ji said to him, “Can’t you see it’s all perfect?” I’ve spoken to Baba about suffering quite a bit myself. I’ve said to Him more times than I can count, “Is suffering the best system that you can come up with?” to which He replies, “Your perspective is inadequate.”
Wars, famine, pandemics, racism, abusive spouses, opioid addictions, contaminated water, molested children – is this God’s plan? Yes. All of it. Whether I have eyes to see it or not, whatever exists is precisely what God wants and has created…or there is no all-powerful God (Bhagwan).
How can I view these horrible things that rend my heart and disconcert my mind and call them perfect?
I am not my body. I am not my mind. I am not my ego. I am the Soul that occupies this sack of flesh, bones, and preferences people refer to as “John.” When I look at you, that’s what I see – another Soul working out their karmic predicaments. Although we’ve chosen to forget in this incarnation, we’ve known each other for thousands of previous lifetimes. We’ll both drop our bodies one day and commune together in our natural home – heaven, nirvana, the after-Earth-life – whatever you’d like to call it. From that place, the most challenging parts of this embodiment will seem like no more than one night in a cheap hotel. Never once has either of our Souls been damaged in any way.
The poet Rumi wrote –
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal, and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless’d; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones,
To Him we shall return”
Having been a pastor and a police officer, I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering and death. My Guru Baba Neem Karoli said, “feed everybody.” This means to do whatever I can to nourish and bless everyone with whom I come in contact. To follow my Guru’s instructions, to walk His path, I’m required to do what I can, when I can, to ease suffering.
At the same time, I believe in the teaching of reincarnation. That time and space do not exist – that we are pure energy beings, Souls, which cannot be injured in any lifetime (incarnation) that we experience.
I can see that every suffering Soul I encounter is perfectly safe at its essence while in the same moment having a painful incarnation experience. I must stand in both places and see from two perspectives simultaneously because I’m most effective at easing suffering from a place of unattachment. I exercise faith that whatever is happening in the present moment is what God wants, meanwhile doing whatever I can to feed, serve, and resolve misery. I am to know the truth, recognize the illusion while at the same time serving as Christ and Hanuman.
No Soul is lost. Each only moves forward in its spiritual development. Death is perfectly safe – like taking off a tight shoe. No love ever expires because whatever love you have felt throughout your thousands of births exists entirely inside of you and always will. This is what Jesus means when He says to “store up treasures in heaven.” The love (compassion, kindness, generosity, perseverance, etc.) that you etch in your Soul can never be lost.
By viewing Souls as perfect and eternal, we can be sure God is in control. At the same time, we must respond as best we can to all the suffering we encounter. We can ease the pain of others while simultaneously knowing (having faith) that God’s karma school is educating excellently.
I had some pretty jarring emotional moments while working with federal law enforcement and the US Customs service (https://bit.ly/USCMonsters). In the beginning, some of those situations with children would bother me for days or weeks, awake and while I slept. After some time, I realized there was not much I could do for kids who had already been abused. However, I did have the ability to do incredible work to protect children that had yet to be exploited. I didn’t stop caring. I just didn’t emotionally invest in past situations I was powerless to change.
It’s all perfect…standing both inside and outside of duality. I can trust the Creator of the dharma, the One who penned the movie of my life. As David sang in Psalm 139, the One who “ordained all of my days before any of them came to be.” Whatever has happened is undoubtedly God’s will (the dharma). Whatever is happening in the here and now is the lesson I need to learn. The majority of the time, easing suffering is the curriculum. First my own, then that of others.
May we all have the eyes that Maharaj-ji granted to Ram Dass, that see God in everything. May we always keep in mind that every suffering Soul is a soon-to-be Saint. May we use our controlled emotions to point others towards the light of the present.
May we see it all perfectly.