(I want to share some thoughts here…not intended as all-encompassing 🙂
In a nutshell, human beings act in a destructive manner towards their fellow inhabitants of the Earth, because of a lack of consciousness regarding their own potential to create value for all. I am simplifying here because of course there is a difference between those who have the basic necessities for keeping alive and healthy and those who are faced with starvation or threatened with violent attacks on a regular basis, especially in war-torn areas. So you could say there is more justification for behaving in an extreme fashion when living conditions are extreme than when one isn’t in any immediate danger of losing one’s life.
However, I would like to take the example of individuals, whom we have all heard about and can maybe even relate to, who despite facing enormous difficulties, for example life-threatening illness, or extreme physical abuse, manage to keep up their level of hope so high that they remain unscathed in their minds. In the case of the terminal illness it might result in the person being able to die in peace but possibly even to turn the disease around and to go on living despite the forecast presented by their doctor. In the 2nd case, again they might die without bearing an all-consuming hatred for their perpetrators or maybe go on to winning respect from them or solving the conflict in some way.
Historical well-known figures that have shown great courage, wisdom and compassion whilst in the thick of it would include Gandhi and Martin Luther King for example. what were their qualities, what can be learned from their mindsets?
Basically, they were determined to follow a clearly chosen path. They knew about the difference between relative and absolute happiness. Relative happiness could be defined as rising out of external events. As soon as those events turned sour, the happiness is gone. A very basic example would be dependency on good weather for a cheery mood. Sure, dismal weather can dampen spirits and even cause depression in the long term, but what if the afflicted person decides to focus their mind upon “sunny” aspects of their lives? More later on visualisation…
Absolute happiness on the other hand, is dependent on a decision and may often tapped into directly because of problems through sheer resolve and a conscious perception of one’s potential.
There is a general lack of awareness of what is possible with a positive inner fighting spirit because it simply isn’t put into practice. I mean the inner resolve to overcome whatever difficulties one may be faced with. One of the main reasons for this oversight is the tendency to get caught up in a passiveness resulting from playing the role of the victim. This is a very understandable attitude which is nourished by consumer society and the values it propagates in education, advertising and upbringing for example. The philosophy of consumerism is as simple as the meaning of the word: it’s about an imbalance of taking versus giving. Whilst consumerism has given people access to many goods and services of which could only have been dreamed of in the past and has been enriching to some extent, it should be obvious by now that the costs are rapidly outweighing the benefits of too much faith in material possessions and technological progress as opposed to focusing more on mental well-being and itsdevelopment.
In consumerist society (but not limited to this) people are taught to believe, either through direct efforts of others or inadvertently, that their happiness depends upon fulfilling an insatiable desire for material things, whether that means products to buy or physical conditions around them. This has been shown countless times to be an illusion, a drug habit. There is a fundamental difference between short lived satisfaction resulting from gaining a possession whose utility value is questionable, and the satisfaction gained from turning around a negative mindset to a positive one by pure internal effort.
Quite simply – in life we have to win against the inner Demons which, if not actively perceived, lead us down parts of resignation, maybe even desperation and mental poverty. Yes, the courage and hope exists in us just like those Demons and it is a question of deciding which way we want to go! With an open mind we can start to experiment with our potential and simply see what happens. When this is done for the 1st time it often yields extraordinary results. But because our minds want to trick us into believing that our reality is fundamentally more negative, we can quickly fall back into bad habits again if we don’t decide over and over again to follow the positive path. That is not to say that negativity is evil and must be distinguished, for that is impossible. But when we become aware of it we can use it and learn from it to understand ourselves in more depth and to master our weaknesses when we strive to live as consciously and creatively as possible.
In short, suffering, great and small is a part of life and will never cease to exist, despite efforts to the contrary to improve technology and material standard of living. Completely inescapable are the sufferings of birth, illness and old age, at least for a large number of the human race in the latter case. So the question is, do we want to learn to see ourselves as puppets on a string or creators of our own existence (This is compatible with a belief in God, should anyone feel offended by that, by the way – I mean Free Will!)? Everything I am writing here is probably much better documented in the vast literature on the subject of personal development and spirituality in the deepest sense of the word, and I don’t want to profess to have covered the subject more than skin deep here so I would like to encourage you to read the true stories presented by normal people in these blogs, that show what is possible when the inner spirit of hope, courage, compassion and wisdom is ignited.