I was in the car yesterday and I caught an item half way through. They were discussing various topics with an author who also seemed to be something of a philosopher. As I missed the start I'm not actually sure who he was but I was intrigued when the question arose 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' and he set forth with an in depth analysis of the psychological reasons of how we establish this as individuals and how we can alter that statement so that better things will arise for us (or at least thats how I interpreted it – I may be totally out of alignment with what he meant!
This has always been one of my favourite topics as it establishes in one sentence the very mistaken way in which we view our entire existence and our grasp of reality.
Most simply put there are two glaring mistakes in this statement - the first is that we assume we know what constitutes a 'good person' and the second is that we believe we know what 'bad things' are.
There are essentially no 'bad things', there are just things and there are no 'good people' there are just people. Things and people arising and 'happening', as is the inevitable movement of the universe, the constant shift of energy from one form to another. Simple physics. Things, energy can't be created or destroyed, only transferred from one form to another.
Yet because we put everything into the context of a world that is somehow aligned around us, every thing seems to have a polarity – good, bad or neutral. That polarity is based very simply upon whether we perceive the thing happening to be in line with what we think is our direction in life, or at least what we imagine that direction should be. For most of us, certainly in the West, that direction is imagined to be 'a pain free, healthy, comfortable. long life – ideally free from death and the thought of it if possible'.
Therefore everything arising around us gets this label of good or bad. We chase the things we imagine are good and we run from the things that we imagine are bad. We are equally indifferent about the neutral, but even in that, the ignorance is essentially the same because it is still all placed in context to us.
Likewise every person has no inherent good or bad, however much we might argue so. If that was the case, ever person would be hated or loved equally. But what about say, Hitler and the Dalai Lama – surely everyone agrees that Hitler was bad and the Dalai Lama is good?
Well there are plenty of politicians and even a great number of Buddhists who very much dislike the Dalai Lama, if you don't believe me then dig into it on the web. Hitler was no doubt responsible for terrible atrocities, but you could also say that he was loved by many, however deluded we imagine that to be. You could also say that from that awful period of war came 75 years of so far of relative peace in Europe – a continent of so many cultures, languages and religions. Of course it also led to greater confrontation in places such as the Middle East after they were carved up. Nothing is ever cut and dry simple.
So another 365 days have passed since this time in 2019. In those 365 days the sun has risen every morning and set each evening, totally unaffected by the trivial concerns of man.
Many will consider it to have been the most awful year ever, there seem to be many also who enjoyed the lockdown periods, the moment to finally disengage with the rush and stress that is the hamster wheel of modern living.
Lives have been sadly lost due not only to the virus but to other knock on effects, but many lives are always lost, that is the natural way of life. We would all be doomed as a species if no-one ever died. A few hundred years ago I would be in old age right now – in fact with my asthma it is doubtful that I would have even lived this long. And no doubt many lives have also been saved as a result of less traffic accidents, less pollution, other infectious diseases that haven't been transmitted due to physical distancing measures. There have certainly been way more babies conceived and born this year than I can ever remember from the friends I know! Nothing is cut and dry, black and white.
The only thing that has really changed is our view of 'reality'. That is where most people have really suffered. No-one knows what each day will bring, as a species we resist change because our survival is based on an environment that we understand the rules of. But when those rules are constantly shifted and the boundaries of the environment are altered, we suffer stress.
Yet in our world, those rules are simply conditioning. Rules, governments, they only have the power that we accord them. If enough people disagree with something then laws, rules, governments change. They were never solid we just imagined that they were. A deception of our own making.
The world, the energy changing shifting form one form to another, that hasn't altered at all. That is inevitably consistent and always will be. However much we resist it and cause ourselves suffering as a side effect of that resistance.
So thats an awful big ramble, was there any point to it? I'm not sure it matters. How you take it will again be polarised depending on how you perceive it to relate to you and your imagined path through life. It isn't for me to convince you that any of it is 'right or wrong', in all honesty I don't care less.
Maybe if we observe how things affect us and how we polarise good and bad things, good and bad people, that will be a start. Perhaps we will suffer a little less if we resist and chase and little less. Perhaps if we simply allow things to unfold, with a fascination and curiosity rather than a classification, perhaps then life takes on this attitude of the great game talked about in almost every religion if you dig deep enough.
Hoping that you all have a fascinating and unforgettable Christmas, whatever incarnation that might take.
Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash