“We can live with almost anything when we can find the meaning in it,” writes Vicktor Havel in his ground breaking book Man’s Search for Meaning.
Sometimes we want to know why things are happening rather than discovering the meaning of the situation.
We often are impatient to get answers and uncomfortable with not knowing. But assumptions get us into deeper trouble.
Actually we are the meaning makers. We give meaning to each event in life. We make sense of life through the way we see, through our perceptions and through the filter of our conditioned habitual reactions.
Often when we feel hurt we look for someone—anyone—to blame. Seeing through the lens of blame we become a fault finder rather than reflect upon how we are reacting. We look for who did it and what the punishment must be.
Blame was the name of the game in my family of origin. I was the youngest of eight active, noisy siblings being raised by two tired, depressed and heavily burdened parents. When there was trouble I wanted to get out of the line of fire so I looked quickly for someone to blame. It was survival.
When I was caught red handed I mounted a defense and came up with all the reasons that made my actions necessary.
I looked for reasons—not the meaning. I satisfied myself with the answers I found, which usually ended up as self-blame.
Much later in life I discovered that finding meaning rather than reasons brings acceptance, which leads to satisfaction and harmony.
But to get to this place we need to look for the patterns that lie under our reactions. It means stepping back, breathing mindfully and slowing down so that we can delve into the motives for our actions.
Dr. David Hansen once asked an audience if they felt enlightened. When they answered “No” he laughingly said, “The only reason you’re not enlightened is that you believe this causes that. But there are so many subtle causes taking place simultaneously that we cannot possibly comprehend the cause. There is never a single cause.”
He went on to talk about the complexity of universal energies that make it impossible to figure out why such and such happened. He explained, however, that we can look into our own heart/mind and discover the patterns within us that cause us to react the way we do.
When we bring clarity to the patterns we actually can see which cause harm, apathy or bitterness. We can also see which patterns bring forth happiness and a feeling of peace. Then we have the necessary information so that we can choose.
There is something within us that sorts out the useful patterns from the unskillful. Gradually we begin to see how it all makes sense. This brings acceptance and relief. It clears the air for new ideas.
We give things the meaning they have according to what we value. When we commit to non-harming, we begin to notice what harms and what is life-giving.
Looking for reasons so that we can know who to blame causes sadness and even war.
Discovering the energy patterns within us, observing them with awareness helps us sort out what supports lovingkindness and what does not. Gradually we begin to sense the meaning of each event and can then move forward.
Meaning is revealed as we wait, watch, listen and note our tendencies and patterns. They are waiting for our loving touch. Will we be merciful or will we blame? Our reactions come from conditioning that we learned before we were too young to make decisions.
What makes us think we need to harm anyone? At the core of these thoughts we will find fear. We will find beliefs that there is not enough love, not enough resources and not enough mercy for everyone. As we become mindfully aware we find these old fears dissolving.
Everything that has happened has brought us to this moment where we can choose love, mercy and forgiveness.