How to live a disappointment-free life: Part 2

As we concluded in Part 1, it is absolutely impossible to disappoint someone who wasn’t expecting anything. Yet, we’re encouraged to have specific goals and expectations. Of course, there’s no guarantee that our expectations will be fulfilled. But we’re told to expect our desires to manifest anyway.

Am I saying that we should live life on Planet Earth without expectations? No. I am saying that when you understand who you are and where you are—and trust that Divine wisdom is greater than your own—disappointments will no longer be part of your earthly experience.

When you understand who you are and where you are, and trust that Divine wisdom is greater than your own, disappointments will disappear.

Is that so?

In “A New Earth,” Eckhart Tolle tells a fascinating story about a popular Japanese spiritual master who was accused of having a sexual relationship with his next-door neighbor’s pregnant teenage daughter. When confronted by the angry parents, the master merely responded, “Is that so?”

As word spread about the pregnancy, he instantly became a pariah in the town. No one would speak to him or seek his spiritual counsel. When the baby was born, the mother’s parents thrust the child at the master.

The Zen master had lovingly cared for the baby for about a year when the young mother confessed: The baby’s father was not the Zen master; it was her boyfriend, the young man who worked in the butcher shop.

How do you think the master responded when the contrite neighbors came to his home to ask for their grandchild? He responded as he did to the false accusation: “Is that so?”

Most of us could not imagine ourselves reacting that way. How in the world could he?

When I don't mind what happens, I am in alignment with what happens.

Clearly, the Zen master had viewed the girl’s false accusation and his year of parenting her child from the Balcony of Life: It merely another human drama, and he chose not to emotionally invest in it. Instead, he trusted that everything was happening as it should, no matter how goofy it looked on the surface, and he aligned with it.

Going with the flow…

In other words, he went with the flow. He trusted that everything was in Divine Order, and was intended to serve him rather than hurt him. That’s impossible to do when we view ourselves as mortal flesh and bone.

We have been taught to think of ourselves as bodies, under the watchful eye of a God who lives in the far reaches of outer space. When hurtful things happen, and God doesn’t intervene, it reinforces our isolation and vulnerability.

It’s our belief in this capricious, vindictive Outer Space God and our investment in specific outcomes that create our heartbreak, disappointment, and situational depression. We wrap ourselves snugly in the cloak of a victim, carefully fastening every painful button and tightening the disappointment belt around our waists. We are so focused on our pain that we miss the opportunities that we created for ourselves. Doors that shut are merely alerting us that we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Disappointing people and situations are your puppets

How can a soul experience or practice compassion, generosity, service or even forgiveness and unconditional love unless it writes scenes and characters into its life script that prompt these actions?

From the Balcony of Life, I can see that situations and people who disappoint are working for me; they’re not doing anything to me—even though it doesn’t appear that way to my body costume, Pat Arnold. Situations that didn’t turn out the way Pat wanted are turning out the way I scripted them.

Imagine a place that’s akin to Central Casting in Hollywood: Karma-Creator Central. They warehouse thoughtless individuals who do things to others that they would not want done to them. For them, it’s sport, and they think they’re winning the game. Poor dears.

As souls, we cast these clueless karma-creators in our dramas. We direct them to help us align our bodies and souls, trust the wisdom of the Omnipresent God, and embrace everything that happens as a divinely designed growth opportunity.

Bad actors who disappoint us are merely our puppets. They thought they were being self-serving. In reality, they were serving us, while delaying their own soul’s inner peace. We should appreciate their sacrifice to fulfill our desire to align with the Divine Within.

As Tolle said of the Zen master: “He’s nobody’s victim. His is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore. Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.”

Looking through your immortal eyes

Think about the last thing that happened that you perceived as a disappointment. On sheets of paper or pages on your computer, write:

“When I see this scene from the human side of me, it looks like this… and I feel like this…”

Now, pretend that you’re not on the stage in the middle of the drama. See yourself as an immortal soul sitting in the balcony of Earth’s stage, looking at a drama that you wrote, cast and directed as an opportunity to learn or grow in some specific way. On a separate sheet or page, write:

“When I, as an immortal soul temporarily wearing a human body, see this scene, it looks like this… and I feel like this…”

Why did I create this? How does it serve me?Explore the powerful question we discussed in Part 1: Why did I create this? How does it serve me?

  • Are my feelings about that scene the same when I’m on stage as when I’m in the balcony?
  • Am I still angry or hurt?
  • Am I still emotionally invested or detached?
  • What was the growth opportunity that I, as soul, created for myself?
  • If there were any bad actors, did they perform well as my puppets?

Opening the eyes in back of your head

I recently reconnected with my college sweetheart and lifelong friend, who initiates a pleasant game of catch-up every once in a while. After all these years, I’m still surprised whenever he and his healthy sense of “what if…” curiosity suddenly reappear on my life path.

During our latest round of shoulda, woulda, coulda catch-up, we had a friendly debate about the value of revisiting the past. He insisted that it’s a healthy exercise, whether our memories are dramatically romanticized or even tinged with regret. Although I didn’t immediately admit it, he was right: Staring straight ahead can be myopic. Worse, we lose the valuable gifts tucked inside those rear view glances: context, life lessons and wisdom.

Rear-view mirror

(c) Bill Frymire

Perhaps you’ve noticed that we can’t always see where we’re going as clearly as where we’ve been. It’s the birthing chamber for those “If I only knew then what I know now” groans.

Ahhh, if our foresight was as 20/20 as our hindsight, life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it? But let’s be grateful that we have eyes in the back of our heads. With that hindsight, we can squeeze every drop of value from our experiences—pleasant and otherwise.

Easier to believe than to think

Albert EinsteinIt doesn’t take Jesus to tell us that putting new wine in old skins will make an absolute mess. It doesn’t take Einstein to tell us that doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is simply wacko. That great teacher, Experience, has told us these things on numerous occasions.

It doesn’t profit us to blindfold the eyes in back of our heads or power down our brains when discerning truth from possibility. By now, we’ve had millions of chances to be “born again”: clear out the debris from thoughts and beliefs that we know, from experience, don’t work and let our evolutionary lessons inhabit this new space—staying open to the possibility that new discoveries might replace them, as well.

Is Earth really flat?

We don’t have to rely on what others told us to believe. For example, several Bible scriptures, including Revelation 7:1, Isaiah 11:12, Job 28:24 and 37:3,  tell us that Earth is flat. Eyes open, brains in full throttle, do we embrace these scriptures as Truth (the Word of God), or as insight into what ancient people believed was true?

During an online search for images depicting the “four corners of the Earth,” as described in Revelation 7:1, I discovered the existence of the International Flat Earth Society. Its members are dedicated to “unraveling the true mysteries of the universe and demonstrating that the earth is flat and that Round Earth doctrine is little more than an elaborate hoax.”

Half of what you see, none of what you hear

I also found the image I was seeking, created in 1893, complete with ten Biblical scriptures that “condemn the globe theory.” Among them, included scriptures claiming that the earth, moon and sun stand still.

Map of the square, stationary Earth

In the tradition of new wine in old skins, this map presents us with a round and square Earth. It was created using the same methodology as the Christian clergy at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and 787 CE, who poured an Old Testament God inside New Testament wineskin. All over the floor splashed a bi-polar deity who is genocidal, filicidal, difficult to please, smiting, full of wrath, judgmental, homophobic, punitive, capricious, vindictive, sadistic, AND the unconditionally loving, forgiving father of prodigal children.

Does believing make it so?

Every minute of our lives, we have the opportunity to apply the lessons we’ve learned and use them as guides as we progress along our life paths. Instead, we repeat phrases and hold expectations that they will perform as if they are true, even though we’ve learned through observation and experience, they are not. Phrases that top that list: “Believing makes it so” and “What we think about, we bring about.”

Millions of us quote modern scribes who declare that we can manifest whatever circumstances, possessions and relationships into the physical world that we desire. All we have to do is “claim” them or follow a certain formula or invoke a particular spiritual law.

With all due respect to the writers of those theories, nothing we have experienced or witnessed validates their claim. When our eyes open and brains are in full throttle rather than idling in gullibility, we know that laws produce the same result, 100% of the time for 100% of those affected, independent of our thoughts or beliefs. Yet we keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result.

We also know that laws don’t have to be consciously invoked. When’s the last time you you invoked the Law of Gravity so that you could walk, sit or hang a picture without anything floating away?

Is possibility a law?

Anything is possible. But if the Law of Attraction works the way modern sages say, everything to which we devoted dominant thought and emotional energy, and visualized in great detail would appear in our experience. Nothing else.

In other words, there would be no dictionary entries for surprise or disappointment. We’d be in total control of our experience here; in fact, we’d have dominion over Earth, just as the ancient scribes believed. Wouldn’t that make our physical/ego selves’ toes curl with delight?

Opening the eyes in back of our heads

Perhaps it’s time for us to see a bigger picture, and make a game of it, as creative souls do. My dear friend Joe’s wonder-filled game of “what if…” seems perfect for this:

  • What if God is so much greater than the brain-limiting images of a huge being who looks like a human and lives in outer space?
  • What if God is a divine, immortal and invisible intelligence and we are made in that likeness and image, rather than the other way around?
  • What if we have misidentified ourselves as mere mortals?
  • What if we, as divine, immortal and invisible souls are much more invincible and intelligent than the sensory human body costumes we are temporarily wearing?
  • What if, in the divine, immortal and invisible world of Spirit, everything is perfect, in Divine Order?
  • What if, as divine, immortal and invisible souls, we are precisely where we want to be, having the experiences we want to have for this bat-of-an-eyelash moment in Universal Time?
  • What if attempts by our mortal, sensory human costumes to control the divinely perfect experience we’ve designed simply don’t work?
  • What if we let go of our limited vision of ourselves and consciously sought to identify ourselves as the divine, immortal omniscient spirit within us?
  • What if we trusted the Divine Within to be our pilots, instead of using our bodies and the brains within them to manipulate the circumstances, possessions and people in our physical lives?

Oh NO! Not the seven iron!

What to Do When Someone Does You Wrong, Part II

Perfect timing! On the heels of last week’s discussion about what to do when someone does you wrong, a couple of stellar volunteers have crept out of the woods to give us a real world example. Let’s bow our heads in sincere thanksgiving to a wandering Tiger who repeatedly lost his way, and publicly sacrificed his honorable reputation to demonstrate how it ultimately ruins your golden game.

While we’re at it, let’s observe a moment of silence for his angry mate, shall we? Her soul certainly could benefit from tightening her grip on a response to wanderlust that’s infinitely more evolutionary than a seven iron.

I won’t recap the nuts and bolts of the Tiger and Elin Woods story or the jokes that erupted in its wake. I won’t even address their insult to our intelligence. Did they really think we’d buy the implausible story that she had to rescue him by breaking the rear window of his SUV when any door—including the undamaged one in the rear—probably would have done the trick?

The real value of this sad little drama is the gift it offers our own lives. It is a story about how to act and react with integrity and character, how to honor ourselves by remembering that we are not Lone Rangers. Whatever we call the eternal spirit that gives us life—“The Traveler,” “The Observer,” “The Divine,” the “I Am,””Allah,” “God,” It is always with us, within us.

Wherever we go, the omnipresent God goes with us; whatever we do, the omnipresent God experiences it. When we do anything that we would not want done to us, we fail to honor the Divine within us. We temporarily disturb the order that the Divine has established.

Divine Order seeks balance. The Universe depends upon it. Without it, the very planets would spin out of control. When we create imbalance in our lives, we set the wheels in motion for that imbalance to be automatically corrected and for Divine Order to be reestablished. It happens through the spiritual Law of Attraction or, as some call it, the Law of Reciprocity. Plainly stated: Whatever you do will be done to you.

Avoiding unpleasant or painful situations (and people) requires pure selfishness, but not as traditionally defined. In a reap-what-you-sow world, selfishness is defined as actions that focus driven entirely by what’s in our best interest. Temporary gain is not in our best interest. What best serves our interest is doing whatever we can to assure that the Law of Reciprocity does not deliver unpleasant or painful situations into our experience.

The most selfish thing we can do is to treat others well. Selfish people ask: “How would I want to be treated? Is the action I’m contemplating something that I’d want done to me?” The response is instantaneous, and can be trusted to provide the best guidance. Deciding how to act—and react—doesn’t get any simpler than that.

For example, a selfish Tiger would have asked, “Would I want Elin to sneak around and be intimate with other men while I’m away?” The assorted felines (six, at last count) would have asked, “If I were married, would I want my husband to sneak around and be intimate with other women?” Elin would have asked, “Would I want to be physically accosted if I did something that angered Tiger?” If anyone in this cast of characters was selfish, none of us would even know that there was a fire hydrant near the Woods’ driveway.

We have no control over other people’s actions and are not held accountable for how they treated us, only how we treat them, no matter what they did to us. Consequently, it’s in our selfish best interest to focus our attention solely on our actions and reactions. All we should care about is that when the Great Balancer comes to call, He is swinging Sweetness and Light, not seven irons.

Ever since the late Anglo-Saxon period (c. 900-1100) when the concept of individual penance spread to England from Ireland, humans have believed that it is our job to design and price others’ sins. We must make them pay! A thousand years later, we’re still driving into God’s lane, determined to do a job that God is quite capable of doing.

Just last week, Elin Woods plowed a golf cart-sized hole in her original prenuptial agreement, as penance for Tiger’s infidelity. The prenup reportedly awarded her a lump sum of $20 million if she and Tiger remained married for ten years. Instead, she allegedly demanded that Tiger immediately pay her $20 mil. In exchange, she will remain in the marriage another two years. And she gets an even bigger payday if they later split. As one person commented on the Chicago Sun-Times website:

“Getting paid to stay in a relationship? Where I come from, that’s called “prostitution”. If it’s no longer for love, then it’s not a real marriage, is it? Very sad.”

Yes, this is very sad, but it’s also very instructive. How we respond to situations says more about us than it says about the person we’re judging or punishing.

I’m sure that it was not Elin’s intent to stick a gaudy price tag on her body. But she did, and wherever she goes, people will see her and instantly see it dangling from her golden locks. Another dramatic demonstration that you can’t hurt someone else without hurting yourself. Dignity is priceless–and losing it is something that Elin Woods obviously feels that she can now afford, along with millions of other disposables.

Elin and Tiger are reportedly in intense marriage counseling, with thrice-daily in-home sessions. Frankly, one good chat with Jenny Sanford might have helped Elin respond to infidelity in a more dignified and less karmic manner.

Mrs. Sanford, betrayed wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, was highly instrumental in building and sustaining her husband’s political career. Despite all that sweat equity and the forfeiture of her own very successful career, she didn’t lunge for her husband’s golf clubs or his bank account after he abandoned her, their four sons, and the entire state of South Carolina to make passionate love to his “soul mate” in Argentina.

First and foremost, Jenny Sanford wanted her errant husband to be a role model for their four sons. By example, she wanted him to teach them what integrity looks like, what being a strong man looks like, and what valuing family looks like.

While Mark Sanford’s behavior was “inexcusable,” she told the New York Daily News, it was not unforgivable:

“Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation,” she wrote. “However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.”

“Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina,” she added. “I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it.”

Jenny Sanford is a Thinker. She comprehends that in a reap-and-sow world, we are punished by our sins, not for them. Ultimately, the price we make others pay will cost us in the future—something the soul currently known as Elin Woods will eventually learn.

If she’s really fortunate, she also will learn the difference between power and force. And she will understand, as the powerful Jenny Sanford understands, that when we ask that our trespasses be forgiven in the same way that we forgive those who trespass against us, God and the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity answer our prayer with exact precision.