Do We Plan to Meet Our Enemies?
Many of us have at some point asked the question – is it karma or a choice from a past life that caused a particularly painful, yet somehow life-changing, encounter? An encounter that seemed almost too cosmic, too all-encompassing, too challenging, or perhaps, too devastating, to be brought about by mere chance, or, worse still, bad luck.
But once we allow for the possibility that soul-level burdens and choices follow us for more lifetimes than one, another set of questions arises. What role does our soul play in these events? Is this something that is imposed on us, that we are led into blindly, as if in some Greek tragedy where we have no say over forces of fate, or have we contributed to arranging these meetings in some way, perhaps even agreed with other souls? And what is the extent of our co-creative responsibility?
At least in part, the answers to these questions lie beyond the grasp of our linear thinking, which is constricted by time and space. But a paradox to the mind makes perfect sense to the soul. I firmly believe that we choose our lives, at least in broad brushstrokes. And this includes making agreements with important people in them — friends as well as enemies.
This does not mean these agreements are always concluded from a place of absolute and perfect clarity. In my own spiritual journey and in my work with others, I have seen many examples of soul-level choices that ended up being destructive and disempowering. Our souls are not omnipotent. They may have been burdened down, lifetime after lifetime, by guilt, pain, wounds and scars of the past — and the way these burdens play into our life choices is just as important as what some call karma, or the universal laws of cause and effect.
Very often, we just need to clear old agreements that no longer serve us, in order to change our perspective. But life, as we all know it, doesn’t only give us love and light, at least, not in the way we would have wanted to. Sometimes, we meet catalysts of spiritual growth. Sometimes, we meet outright enemies.
Ultimately, the story is not about punishment or even justice. What matters is that our souls are striving to resolve the pain and to heal. The same situation is bound to repeat itself over and over again until we learn to make different choices. Then, as the scars heal and we break free, not only the future, but also the past gets transformed.
When we attain higher consciousness, we start seeing how even the most agonizing experiences were only stages on the path to bliss, as pain loses its power. In the words of C. S. Lewis, heaven, once attained, will work backwards.
Those who are catalysts for growth and change, whose work may be incomprehensible to our conscious mind, come to destroy our concepts of good and bad, right and wrong. Our catalysts and enemies may shatter our paradigms, destroy the cultural templating that no longer serves us, destroy our very egos and everything that gave us safety.
This does not mean I am attempting to reduce human suffering and the quest for its meaning in our lives to “it all works out well in the end” or to some ethereal choice “up there”, which obliterates responsibility. I am in no way implying that evil can somehow be made good, or that the victims are somehow to blame for their fate.
The horrific crimes perpetrated against humanity, against the defenseless and the innocent throughout centuries are not any less horrific just because they have a place in the bigger picture. But we have a choice to heal and transform even the most horrific of our past into a victory.
I am not talking about abstract notions, or asking, like one of Dostoyevsky’s heroes, whether the tear of one child is worth all the goodness in the world. These are questions without answers, asked specifically to avoid responsibility. If I don’t want any of your goodness, I might as well hide behind the tears of a child. I am talking about our healing, yours and mine, our power and our happiness.
Paradoxically, rather than victims of our own suffering, we are also creators of it, in the positive sense of having made a soul-level choice to experience certain events. It is our present reaction to those events which causes us the greatest pain and turmoil. However, this pain also propels us to seek a solution, and it is there that life lessons are often learned.
One of the marks of spiritual maturity is the capacity to bear paradox. As we grapple with seemingly impossible questions, going in a pendulum-like motion between two opposing truths, gradually we find a higher truth that encompasses them both. Once we start seeing our souls as powerful co-creators of our experience, we also start taking our power back, the power that was always ours, transmuting all, even pain, into light.