This article came to me in an email some time ago, and surfaced tonight, so perhaps it is time to pass it on. I am not (the guys are not) totally in agreement with everything he says about the background of incarnation, but I am fully on board with his objections to the way New Age “thinkers” over-simplify the causes of suffering — and in the process often diminish their own empathy. I have had many an unsuccessful argument to that effect!
DOES EVERYONE REALLY CREATE THEIR OWN REALITY?
William Bloom ‑ Cygnus Magazine
Over the years it has been an honor for me to advance and defend new age and holistic spirituality. I love its open‑mindedness, its embrace of metaphysics and the way it combines spiritual work with healthcare. But I have also despaired at times about its apparent lack of morality and compassion when faced with the realities of people’s suffering.
This coldness is often explained away with half‑baked ideas about how energies, karma and the laws of attraction work. This often reach a peak of disturbing smugness when a new age ‘philosopher’ faced with cruel suffering says authoritatively: ‘People create their own reality’ or ‘Their soul chose it ‑ its their karma’ or ‘Everything is perfect in God’s Plan ‑ you just need to perceive it differently’. People who say such things seem to have no idea how smug and nasty they sound. Nor of the hurt they cause.
Fourteen years ago I had a lower back crisis in which three disks herniated and a tendon tore. The pain was as high on the scale as it can go. I was bed‑ridden, then on sticks and it took seven years to recover. Early on, as I hobbled awkwardly on sticks, a new age woman came up to me, poked her face in mine and loudly stated, ‘You know what Louise Hay says about lower back crises, don’t you!’ She was typical of many.
A friend recently had a severe heart crisis, was suddenly taken to hospital and told that his life was at risk. He told me that what really frightened him was the thought of informing his spiritual friends, because they would use it as an opportunity to be self‑righteous and tell him what he was getting wrong in his life.
Of course in both my and his case there were good lessons to be learned, but our life or mobility were threatened and we deserved compassionate friendliness. Isn’t spiritual development about increasing compassion and love? It does not help to have someone chiming, ‘You asked for it. Told you so.’ Even if we did create those illnesses, kindness and support are needed so that we can begin to understand the process..
These minor examples of personal distress are nothing compared to the more dramatic tragedies being endured on the world stage. What follows is recent testimony from a woman at the centre of the Darfur crisis (New Internationalist, June 2007):
‘My baby boy was thrown on the fire in front of me. My daughter was older. They thought she was a boy so they slaughtered her too ‑ they snapped her neck like a chicken. Some of the children they threw down a well .. After they raped the women they cut off their breasts to make them suffer. They used those of us who were left as donkeys.’
Her experience is not unique. Recently too there has been the incident of the little girl kidnapped in Portugal, the tip of an iceberg of the sexual abuse faced by hundreds of thousands of children every day, not to mention the thirty thousand children who daily die of starvation.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank.
Surely all this suffering can only be approached with stillness, humility and wisdom of the heart. Not with half‑baked metaphysics and denial. It is pure ignorance, shameful and cold‑hearted emotional cruelty to suggest that these women and children asked for this destiny, deserved it, chose it or created their own reality. It completely misunderstands karma and the laws of attraction.
There is a frequent error of assuming that souls have complete control and choice over their incarnations. New souls entering for the first time, for example, may simply be drawn to where there is a newly conceived fetus. They may have no choice but to participate in the collective rhythm and cycle. There are more dynamics in incarnation than simple choice.
Equally we do not create our lives in isolation. We pass through collective historical and karmic events over which we may have little individual power. We are participants as souls and as biological creatures in a constellation of relationships that includes our species, our gender, our family, our ancestors, our ethnicity and faith. Our parents and children, for example, are within us, as we are also within them. We are not just individual souls creating our own individual lives and futures. We are also subjects of the group soul and our histories and futures are entwined. As a species we have created a shared karma of suffering, and it is as a collective that we experience, redeem and heal it. The collective affects even the most forceful individual.
The redemption of all this lies in the fact that each of us has the freedom and power to adopt our own inner attitude regardless of circumstances. I am inspired, for example, by the Catholic priests who chose the way of self‑sacrifice and walked with their Jewish parishioners into the Nazi gas chambers.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
It is also completely banal and naïve to suggest that everything in God’s world is good and that it is all a matter of perception. Faced with the reality of a three‑year old child being sexually abused, it is simply not possible to make such a statement and be moral. It is in facing reality, not denying it, being in our hearts, that we grow and become wiser.
At the same time I fully appreciate how difficult it is to be fully present to suffering. For some people it is overwhelming because it triggers their own pain. But sooner or later on the spiritual path we have to develop the courage and strength to stay stable and loving when faced with these horrors. In the words of Carl Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
All my love
William Bloom is one of the UK’s most experienced teachers, healers and authors in the field of holistic development. His work has helped thousands of people. His mainstream career includes a doctorate in psychology from the LSE where he lectured in Psychological Problems in International Politics, ten years working with adults and adolescents with special needs, and delivering hundreds of trainings, many in the NHS.
His holistic background includes a two‑year spiritual retreat living amongst the Saharan Berbers in the High Atlas Mountains, 30 years on the faculty of the Findhorn Foundation, co‑founder and director for 10 years of the St. James’s Church Alternatives Programme in London.
He is a meditation master and his books include the seminal “The Endorphin Effect”, “Feeling Safe and Psychic Protection” ‑ and most recently “Soulution: The Holistic Manifesto”.
He is director of The Holism Network and well known for his clear, practical and friendly style of teaching.