Discouragement Rising from Within
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray movie. While it can seem like fluff, it actually stands as powerful spiritual metaphor. If you don’t know it, you can click here for a summary, but in short, a journalist repeats the same day over and over and over again until he learns and lives important spiritual principles. In the end, it is not his virtue that leads him there, rather the endless cycle of blunt force feedback in response to his attitude and behavior.
If anything, Groundhog Day is a metaphor for our own spiritual journeys, as life ever so slowly and none too gently shapes us. Groundhog Day gives me a lens through which I can view my challenges lately with a sense of futility in my life. There is ample evidence that little I do actually makes any difference. Just to put it in perspective, I don't think I am unique. And I’m not complaining, merely acknowledging what seems to be true, and that I am experiencing discouragement as a result.
If I practice what I preach I must look to the root causes within me. It could be that the things I do are driven by a desire for ego gratification, or a need for some kind of ego validation. Or it is easy for me to see that a desire for approval or attention may be at work. Or, it's entirely possible I have a need to prove my importance and relevance that is mostly unconscious to me.
You may say, “So what? Isn’t that normal for humans?”
Sure. And yet my Seeing True practice is so clear that our disappointments are always the result of a projection from within me that is not serving me well. And that doesn’t even begin to acknowledge that if my motivations are in fact simply to satisfy self-serving needs, all pretense of virtue collapses. I become just one more self-seeker using the world and its people, which is really a rather ugly and all too common human reality.
I don't want to allow such dishonesty for myself or for my motivations. At the same time, I don’t want to be judgmental or punitive with myself, since those have no value either. What I need is a different way of viewing and experiencing.
What if the Groundhog Day proposition is truer than we know? What if the whole design of Life is to humble us, and thus to awaken us? What if when we cooperate with Life’s processes, we do indeed rise to noble traits like love and service, not as ego reinforcement, but as genuine acts of gratitude and generosity? What if our only other options are delay, denial, delusion and the like, all of which will eventually be crushed by the forces within Life that will have their way with us? What if one way or another, this life or the next, somehow Life will succeed at teaching and developing us?
If these are true, then futility and discouragement are our teachers. They are part of a process that will necessarily bring us home to ourselves sooner or later, and one way or another. The Buddhists say we should abandon all hope of fruition. They mean that when we finally are exhausted enough to yield, to let go of all ideas that we of ourselves can make something of ourselves, then something magnificent emerges.
Many great ones lament that so much is left undone, or that they fall so terribly short. It is not that they deny the roles they have tried and often failed in. Rather that they have taken maximum advantage of the humbling effects of Life. They have been tumbled and scoured and tenderized with unfathomable willingness. Strangely, in being diminished, greatness rises of its own accord through them. Life does not break them, it breaks them open so more can manifest.
Seeing True™ in Action
If our purpose is to grow and be developed by the forces of Life acting upon us, what actions can you take today, or tomorrow, or over and over again that make you teachable?
If you find yourself unwilling to be molded by Life itself, balking or shirking or hiding or denying, can you tell yourself the truth of your avoidance?
If the growth and development of your True Self is actually all that matters, what is holding you back?