This is not your suffering; don’t add to the suffering of the world by suffering something that isn’t yours to suffer. ~ Byron Katie
One paradox of consciously living in the present moment is the awareness of all other beings. The poignancy of life is highlighted by the extremes of human experience both now and historically. It really is quite easy to be devastatingly grateful when you think of the scale of suffering on this planet.
The dark side of this compassion is guilt. People are shockingly riddled with guilt. We are taught to feel guilt for being born, guilt for all the ways we don’t measure up, guilt for the space we occupy and the resources we consume, guilt for dying and letting everyone down. Honestly, what is up with humanity and our indulgence with guilt?
I am blessed to have lived a life unburdened by guilt indoctrination. I credit both my family’s exodus from organized religion and our subsequent back to the land lifestyle for this freedom. I spent my childhood hauling water from a river, heating our cabin with only a wood stove and suffering an outhouse during Northern Prairie winters. I appreciate hot water, furnaces and flush toilets like a Greek supplicant at the Oracle of Delphi. There is no space for guilt in the intensity of my gratitude for these magical things.
One narrative I love to tell goes like this: we are part of two or three generations when the common folk are living the life our ancestors sacrificed for. We are the sweet spot between the industrial revolution and environmental destruction. We are the peak, the apex, the incarnation reaping the benefits of the efforts of so many for so long. We are truly living the dream.
It seems peevish to live it in guilt.
Gratitude? Yes. Guilt? No.
One place I get tangled up in is making money. Making money is a bottom line measure of responsible conduct in a capitalist society. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t make enough to “pay my share” and my partner has to ante up my portion. Fortunately, my partner knows that it takes more than money to create a joyful life. (You might need a puppy, for instance!)
During my hypnosis training, I took every opportunity to seek out spiritual council and ask for guidance on money issues.
The first time I asked, “what about money?”, my Council responded: Money is not what you are about. Jeffrey will continue to prosper. Good news!
The second time I was advised: Don’t worry about money.
The third time I was shown this snippet of a future life:
Movement. Peering through gauzy material at throngs of folks reaching towards me. I am carried in a rough made litter. I am a young woman, a princess. I feel resigned to my fate…someone has to do it. It is no great privilege to be a Queen in this world.
The wisdom? Duty is coming; enjoy your freedom.
The final time I asked about money in a session I was told: Stop asking about money.
Yup. Scolded. Admonished by my Spiritual Council.
So now I have the audacity to not worry about money. If you can’t trust your Spiritual Council, who can you trust?
Gratitude is a beginning place; a gateway to healing, trust, enough-ness.
Guilt locks the gates down tight; it is the choking smog of stress, self-loathing and incapacitation.
Gratitude is the first breath of release.
Inhale: open the gates. Exhale: release guilt.
Inhale: love. Exhale: peace.