Back to the Higher Thought Game
Question: Do you trust the universe? What does trusting the universe mean (to you)?
Well, one thing it means to me is taking a step back from my arguments with life.
When I find myself assuming that things are just wrong – that the universe is random or fundamentally brutal because there’s way, way too much suffering and horror and injustice (not to mention the specific injustice of me not having everything I want), I take a breath and ask myself, “How do I know, really? Is it possible that if I could understand life and the wonder of existence far more deeply and panoramically that I would ‘get it on a different level’ (as a friend used to say) and see the universe is working quite fine, thank you?”
I don’t know.
So that’s the first part of trust. Landing on: “I REALLY don’t know and I couldn’t possibly know, being merely human.”
In a way, that’s all the trust I need. “I don’t know” is a type of religious faith. In fact, it’s my faith. (I think it’s called “agnostic.”)
The second part of trusting the universe is utterly illogical and I can’t justify it at all.
I think, if we were having tea and discussing this, I could make a pretty good argument for “I don’t know.” You could point out that there are children born into poverty and slavery who can never escape, and I might reply that a single human lifespan is a miniscule fraction of an eye blink in eternity and who knows whether or not an individual soul’s journey extends beyond that timeframe, and whether or not all wounds are healed and redeemed in the fullness of eternity, etc. Of course, you might retort that that’s all a crock of self-comforting horseshit (I’m not really assuming you would say that, but I know people who would, so that’s whom I’m debating right now in my head) but then I could respond with “Maybe – but you don’t know really know either,” and I think my “position” would be basically unassailable or at least tenable.
But like I was saying, the second part of trusting the universe – that is, what trusting the universe means to me personally – cannot be rationally defended – nor does it need to be, because it’s a feeling, not a belief, not even a specific thought. It’s a sneaking suspicion that has followed me throughout my life, even in my most difficult times, that the universe not only loves me, and is not only suffused with extraordinary loving intelligence, but literally arranges itself for my greatest benefit every single second.
It’s just a sense I have (sometimes more subtly than others, but it’s always there). It’s not that things always go my way; they definitely don’t. I certainly don’t get everything I want. But I feel certain the universe has my best interests at heart at all times. And even when I fuck up, when I make big “mistakes,” that’s all part of the plan, so to speak.
I mean, it’s not really a plan; that’s a misnomer. But everything fits together. From the mind-bendingly busy and unceasing strangenesses of the microbial realm to the unimaginably vast and (apparently) hollow reaches of empty outer space, it’s all one thing. And it’s coordinated. And if that sounds absurd, you might be anthropomorphizing God. I’m not saying the universe is managed like a machine or a corporation by some controlling ego. Those are human-level schemas. I believe the universe “makes sense” but not in that way. Rather, it makes meta-sense. Something beyond our conception of sense. Way more genius than that.
A Friend’s Brilliance
Recently I had occasion to reconnect with an astonishing little book that a friend of mine wrote some 30 years ago – a shining spiritual classic in my opinion – entitled The Forgiveness Book.
My friend Patrick Miller wrote it in just about a week, whilst in the throes of a debilitating, life-upending illness. Though he’s the author of several books as well as numerous published essays and articles, Patrick calls The Forgiveness Book “the most dramatic example of a Direct Download I ever experienced.”
You can order it on Amazon, etc. but I think Patrick gets a slightly larger author royalty if you order it through one of the links on his website.
As an early holiday present, I offer a couple of excerpts below (one pertaining to forgiveness in the personal sphere, the other to the political realm):
It might seem easier to forgive someone if only he or she would show signs of changing. The paradox is that we are unlikely to see signs of change in others until we have forgiven them. This is true for two reasons. First, resentment is blinding. It limits our perception of what is real now – and what may be changing right in front of us – and shuts down our capacity to envision a happier future. Second, a subtle but critical function of forgiveness is that it tacitly gives others ‘permission’ to change. We are not so separate from each other as we generally experience ourselves to be. We think that we grow and change only within ourselves, but we also grow and change partly within others, and they within us. Some people may find very little space within themselves to change, and need others to let them into a psychic territory of forgiveness, where they can feel free to try a new way of being.“
That’s what makes forgiveness so powerful. Anyone can initiate the change we all need by opening up new territories within his or her mind – our one mind really – where others can find the room to take a deep breath, start telling the truth, and shake off the cloak of guilt they have so long mistaken for their own skin.”
I’ve always been amazed by the power of bigots or hatemongers to arouse within me precisely the kind of hatred I despise within them. This is their real (if subconscious) agenda – not to further their race, culture, or beliefs, but to clone their inward misery in the consciousness of others, and thus feel less alone. Ultimately, this is a self-defeating strategy, but it gains a little credence every time the hater can inspire any kind of hatred within another person, regardless of whether it’s a hatred that supports or opposes his cause. To understand the hater, I need look no further than my revulsion in his presence. And I have to look at this revulsion steadily, continuously, courageously – until I see exactly how my own loneliness has crafted such a fearsome mask. Then I am a step closer to understanding how bigotry might be undone.”
Be well! Hope you took some inspiration from that, as I do.