Everything Happens for a Reason . . .

. . . at least that’s what folks say.  But, is it true?  Like many matters of faith, and this is indeed a matter of faith, it’s impossible to prove. If you could prove it, then it wouldn’t be faith.  

Not being provable, however, does not negate the value of a belief. It’s impossible to prove, for example, that Jesus was an actual person who lived, you know, right around the same time someone was inventing the calendar.  There are some theologians who contend that Jesus or Yeshua or Joshua, as he might more accurately be called, was a creation of the early Gnostic Christians, a kind of avatar of perfection, a character specifically developed to be a model and a cornerstone for this new religious belief.  But even if they are right, even if Jesus was a fictional character and not a real person at all, that doesn’t necessarily devalue his role in shaping world thought. Provability is not always the standard by which we can measure value. 

So, what value is there in believing that everything happens for a reason, regardless of whether it’s true or not? 

We tell ourselves that everything happens for a reason because we’re trying to make sense out of things that make no sense.  Sometimes life is a mystery. Sometimes it’s even a tragedy. For people of faith — whether that’s a traditional faith running as a thread through a particular religious tradition or whether it’s a private tendency toward hope — it’s important and even vital for this existence to fit into some grand scheme. We want to see a design, at first invisible, become gradually clearer, like those magic eye pictures that look like nothing more than busy wallpaper until we shift our focus, look through the picture somehow, and then, as if it should have been obvious the entire time, an image pushes through the chaos and becomes clear.

Believing that everything happens for a reason can be the reason we even start the practice of looking for patterns in our lives.  And those patterns are there. Of that, I have no doubt. I’ve seen patterns play out in my own life, and sometimes patterns within patterns, the events of my life acting as so many interconnected cogs in a giant machine. 

Believing that everything happens for a reason can also comfort us when nothing else will.  When we can’t understand anything about a situation, resting in the faith of believing there is a rhyme and reason to it can bring a kind of peace. But, the comfort of “everything happens for a reason” is a personal comfort. It can be a reminder we use for ourselves that everything will turn out okay, but it doesn’t always land quite right when it comes from someone else. 

I overheard someone at a funeral a few years back as they grasped the hands of the newly widowed woman struggling to make it through the unimaginable.  They said, “Well, everything happens for a reason,” and you could almost hear the internal cringe of several of us standing nearby.  Here’s a small piece of advice; do with it what you will. In that situation, the situation where someone has experienced tremendous loss, say that you feel for them, say you’re praying for them, say you’re carrying them in your heart — say just about anything except everything happens for a reason.  Even if you believe it’s true. Even if you know THEY believe it’s true.  Just don’t say it.  Not then. Not ever. Keep it for yourself.  

Actually, I might suggest that when people are really hurting we should set our “spiritual-ness” down and just be with them.  The hurt they are feeling isn’t in their divine nature anyway; it’s in the very human, fragile person they are, and the hurt they are experiencing is real for that person.  Any spiritual attempt to explain it, suppress it, redirect it, or enlighten it is often, in reality, acting to negate it, belittle it, and self-righteously sweep real pain away as if it was insignificant dust on an otherwise shiny life. 

Sometimes people need comfort, true and gentle comfort, not an aphorism or a spiritual sound bite.  “Everything happens for a reason” may be true, but “I’m so sorry this happened to you” is far more comforting.  And human. And real. 

And if our heart is right when we say it, no one will need faith to believe it’s true. 

All Systems Go

All systems go . . . is a phrase that was popularized during the space race of the 1960s.  It was a specific person, actually, who used the phrase — John Powers, the public information officer for the U.S. Space Program —  and then it just caught on and became an idiom meaning that everything is ready. 

There is another quote about systems often attributed to W. Edwards Deming of the Deming Institute, but it’s of disputed origin.  Regardless of who said it, it goes like this: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the outcome that it gets.”  It assumes a kind of Z to A way of analyzing efficacy.  So, first you have to identify the outcome you are experiencing. Once you know that, you will know what kind of system you have in place — the system that would create this particular result. 

Many spiritual seekers have done at least some work around the idea of setting intentions, the A to Z way of attempting to create specific outcomes. Current spiritual wisdom tells us that if we get clear on our heart’s desire, set an intention, and then affirm it regularly, we can create the reality we want — the results we want. But what is going on when we set an intention and it doesn’t pan out. Are we doing it wrong? 

Or could it just be that all systems aren’t quite on go? 

I don’t have any ground-breaking answers regarding the intersection of intentions and results. But I do think that if we want to understand the connection between them, we need to first explore the system.  And in this instance, the system is us. 

I find that the more time I spend in communion with my higher self, my divine nature, whatever you want to call your true and unchangeable self, the more my intentions arise naturally, on their own, from a pure place, and present themselves to me.  They are no longer clay that I’m attempting to shape, wet and formless clay that I’m pulling from the mud in handfuls and trying with everything within me to make into something at least presentable. No.  From the place of my beingness, my intentions become like doves that fly down to the ground and land at my feet. They aren’t made by me so much as they arrive and present themselves to me.  In time, they start to fly right into my hand, and then they even begin to alight right on my shoulder when I’m not even paying attention.  As my communion with my higher self continues and deepens, the dove can even become a hawk or an eagle.  In other words, the more I simply focus on my divine nature, the more my intentions create themselves.

My suggestion, and it’s only a suggestion, is to stop trying to figure out your life’s direction or what you should be affirming.  Stop trying to carefully word your intention.  Just for a little while. Instead, go inside.  Go deep inside. Check under the hood, so to speak.  Meditate.  Read Mooji or Michael Singer or Caroline Myss. Do whatever it is you need to do to commune with your true self. If you’re not sure what that is, ask.  Let the asking be your first intention. And when all systems are go, you’ll know the direction to take.  

Just a thought from here at ground control.