By Fr. Edwin Obani
For most of us, after the divine gifts of life and consciousness, the acquisition of peace, health and happiness are our greatest blessings!
Additionally, we identify conditions and experiences that promote our general well-being as blessings.
On the other hand, conditions and experiences perceived to be oppositions to our heart’s desire and well-being may be identified as burdens.
In general terms, we label the burdensome experiences in our lives as, tribulations, trials, temptations, sufferings, troubles, challenges, deprivations, failures, ill health, complicated relationships, real and imagined enemies and natural calamities. In other words, a burden may be any condition, or experience analogous to a heavy physical load one must carry. A burden may be a situation that one has to deal with or worry about, which is difficult and unpleasant.
Looking at the flip side of the coin, the necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clothing and security, are obvious blessings to everybody. To be born into a well-to-do family is considered a blessing in every culture. Good formal education, spiritual illumination, the ability to meet our worldly obligations, and advantageous privileges and opportunities are also blessings. Harmonious relationships and remarkable achievements in one’s endeavours are important blessings.
As humans, we are predisposed to toeing the line of least resistance. Therefore, we wish our blessings were in a “constant flow”! It is, however, the burdens that we wish should quickly pass away!
However, both burdens and blessings of mortal life are dynamic conditions and do not possess the quality of permanency. This is because; they are not ends, but means to the supreme purpose of life, which is the perfection of our soul-personalities. In other words, they are means of inner evolution and preparation for unselfish service.
The average individual devotes great energy and time working to overcome their burdens. However, one should not take one’s blessings for granted and fail to “count them one by one” and note with gratitude “what the Lord has done” for them.
As mortal beings, such burdens as ill health, material lack, and inharmonious relationships bring great pain, suffering and disillusionment. But they also serve very useful purposes as they help us learn the deeper lessons of life as we struggle to perfect ourselves.
It is very instructive to observe that life’s burdensome conditions and experiences are the ones which, at some point in time, wake each individual up to the challenging questions about existence: What is life? How did creation come about? What is the purpose of life? Who am I? What am I doing in this world? What is my relationship with humanity, nature and the Creator of all? Why are there disparities in human living conditions? What is the end of human existence?
What? How? Who? Why? When? Where? These are the most important questions in the process of understanding life and human evolution. They lead us to question the validity and usefulness of our values, beliefs, convictions, world view, attitudes, mindsets, roles and the potential consequences of our actions and inactions. These questions lead to the development of a more idealistic perspective of life, such as the ideals of a humane and peaceful society.
In nine situations out of every ten, the right questions eventually lead to a more balanced evaluation. This is because; the soul has at its disposal answers to every perplexing situation we encounter in life. It is only waiting for us to “knock, seek and ask”.
How each individual evaluates his or her burdens and blessings is very important to the whole process of understanding life and establishing a harmonious relationship with the cosmic. By Cosmic we mean the harmonious relationship of all the natural, universal and spiritual laws of God. An important question to ask as we try to “assign dimension” to our burdens and blessings is this: To what degree have my burdens and blessings contributed to an understanding of fundamental laws of life and inner evolvement?
Most individuals, on reflection, come to realize that every burdensome experience in life presents an opportunity to “seek, knock and ask” for light and wisdom of the soul. And to search for knowledge and understanding of the fundamental laws and principles of existence. It is the knowledge and practical application of these fundamental laws and principles for more purposeful living in harmony with the Cosmic that every student of life seeks through philosophical and mystical studies.
It is not to be bemoaned that we have burdens. They provide energy and sustain momentum for growth. We are not to be overjoyed that we have blessings. They make us trustees to the Cosmic and debtors to humanity. Our primary concern should be how best to harness both towards perfection of ourselves and preparation for greater service to humanity and God.
Certain experiences in the life of every human being are beyond rationalization. The essential lessons of life come to each of us in very unique ways. The moment an individual launches onto the path of conscious evolution and intense spirituality, the pillars of initiation, ever in operation, especially in the awakened consciousness, must be confronted, mastered and harmonized. It matters very little whether they wear the cloak of earthly burdens; “behind every cloud, there is a silver lining”.
Responsibility awareness is more difficult for individuals who lack the knowledge that life is not an event but a process. It is a process that has its roots in the past, continuing in the present, and will flow into the future. Within this process, loops are inputs and outputs. In this process, our thoughts, words and actions generate causes and effects. These effects may manifest either as burdens or blessings of life. Some of the “stones” that are making disturbing “noise” in the bush of our life experiences today were thrown sometime in the past. The past may be yesterday, twenty, forty, or sixty years ago!
A practical and useful starting point for conscious perfection is to take full responsibility for one’s allotted portions of the burdens of life and seek inner wisdom on how to lighten them as well as how best to use one’s blessings. When we do so, we shall be assisted by the higher intelligence and inspired to learn the essential lessons of life that we need for inner evolvement and preparation towards being of greater service to humanity and the Cosmic.
Even if we have overwhelming “evidence” that some external force or other persons are responsible, directly or indirectly, especially for our burdens, the fact remains that we all times reserve the responsibility for the attitude to adopt.
Attitude can make a big difference. It can assist every individual in better understanding the burdensome experience, how to lighten the burden, and how best to use his blessings and avoid misuse. The first positive attitude for a purposeful life is to assume full responsibility for the consequences of one’s thoughts, words and actions. Responsibility awareness is both a positive sign and a readiness for inner growth.
Take stock of Your Blessings and Burdens
Maybe, we should occasionally pause, ponder and reflect on our burdens and blessings and consider the teachings of experience. Such stocktaking may lead to a more realistic valuation of our burdens and blessings as well as sincere adjustment of our attitudes towards them.
When all is said and done, one may find out that both burdens and blessings of life are our spiritual teachers. They are means to an ever-expanding knowledge and understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the whole of existence.
Most adults of today remember their once “overbearing”, “over-demanding”, and “difficult” teachers with deep feelings of respect and gratitude. This is because, looking back now, they can rightly relate their achievements to the strict instructions and burdensome tasks the teachers demanded they must accomplish in the formative years of their lives. Therefore, every burdensome condition must be faced with the primary goals of a purpose-driven life in mind.
These goals include:
- First, accurate knowledge of one’s self; that is, one’s outer and inner natures as well as one’s worldly circumstances.
- Second, knowledge of natural and spiritual laws and how to apply these laws towards the ends we seek in obedience to the principles of universal harmony.
These goals are important aspects of the big picture of existence. This big picture assists the sincere and devoted student of life to balance his or her perspectives about the burdens and blessings of mortal existence in all their changing phases and cycles.
Our Aspirations And Actions
Maybe, there is a link between our aspirations in the past and our present experiences, whether we see them as burdens or blessings. In the same vein, our aspirations in the present will have definite implications for what may turn out to be our lots in future incarnations! This is so because the soul of man is an expression of the spiritual and immaterial part of Being and lives on beyond one round of expression on the earth plane.
These aspirations refer to the drives, inclinations, goals, objectives, aims, accomplishments, achievements, desires and needs which we have consciously and deliberately made the focus of our thoughts, words and actions. Does this call for caution and thoughtfulness in our aspirations, with the knowledge that there would be consequences, happy or unhappy?
Aspirations, though they may manifest as physical/material realities, are essentially spiritual entities, thought forms which exist beyond time and space. Happiness, which we all seek, lies in striking a dynamic balance between our material/worldly and spiritual aspirations. That is, our aspirations should be a mix with the potential to satisfy our bodily and earthly needs, contribute to inner growth and promote the expressions of soul qualities such as peace, love, harmony and altruistic service.
For more practical purposes, we can rely more on the lessons of experience in the present life. These are relatively easier to recollect. Some individuals can establish very instructive cause-effect relationships between their conscious aspirations and important life conditions and experiences.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Periodic review of our conscious aspirations can, to some significant degree, be predictive of their potential outcomes and guide the individual in the exercise of will. Will, which is the deliberate decision of the objective mind communicated to the subconscious mind, is the motive force behind any of our actions. And it is through positive actions that aspirations find their fulfilment.
Conviction and Courage
Do the potential burdens that may come with challenging aspirations, especially towards humanitarian service, deter men and women of noble visions and spiritual ideals? No!
On the contrary, such burdens, as they were, act as motivators and rich sources of essential life lessons. The challenges strengthen their resolve to transcend limitations.
The aspirations of visionary individuals reflect their inner convictions on the great truths of existence and the important roles they must play in response to the present and future needs of evolving humanity. This calls for uncommon courage. Conviction without courage is like a body without a soul. It is lifeless!
The world has always had men and women with noble aspirations towards making the world a better place. Two major qualities they have in common are conviction and courage. These men and women can be found in every field of human endeavour; in the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, mysticism, politics and business. They are the harbingers of human civilization, indeed, true leaders of the human race.
They aspire to be co-creators with God. To create for the benefit of humanity in their finite spheres as God creates in His infinite spheres. In the practical sense of the phrase, they are true saviours of the world, great minds and masters of cosmic laws. They are attuned to the creative forces of the cosmic and cooperate with these forces in their labours of love. In their quest for unselfish service, they always earn the support of the benevolent Intelligence or forces of the Universe.
Conviction and courage constitute the spiritual magnet that draws inspiration from both the terrestrial and celestial forces for good which enable visionary men and women to give practical and beneficial expression to their aspirations.
Attracting Cosmic Empowerment
The great law of cosmic empowerment is dependable and consistent in its operations. The law is, “If you dare to do, the power to do shall be granted unto you”!
Every human being is a potential world server. You are capable of influencing the karma of our humanity in some positive ways to make our world a better place.
Wave the banner of service before the God of your heart and deepest understanding. The aura of your noble aspiration shall attract the needed inspiration from the benevolent forces for universal good. Dare to be a man or woman with exciting, motivating, challenging and humanitarian aspirations. Also, and indeed, more importantly, strive to be a man or woman of practical actions to materialize your aspirations.
Our world is in dire need of the service you are capable of rendering! A little done with humility, sincerity, and compassion will be of inestimable value! You may have to clear a new and unpopular bush path in some special circumstances. In the process, you may bruise your feet. Never mind, that is the worthy price for daring “to step out of the crowd” in loving service to humanity and God. Permit nothing to obscure your gaze into the heavens! The forces for good on the higher planes of consciousness are ever happy to sense willing hearts and ready hands. Hearts and hands sincerely petitioning for divine guidance and assistance in their humble efforts towards universal well-being.
Though your aspirations will come with burdens, they will also come with blessings which may last beyond the present span of mortal existence. This calls for perseverance and patience.
To conclude these reflections, every phase of human development and inner evolvement, infancy, childhood, adolescence, youth and adulthood, has its unique burdens and blessings.
But far more dangerous, severe, heavy, exerting and painful than the common worldly burdens we have discussed above are the burdens imposed on us by ignorance, fear, superstition and poverty of spiritual values or ideals. We must direct every sane effort to lighten the debilitating heavy weight these place on our shoulders through ceaseless seeking, knocking and asking for the “light of knowledge and the illumination of wisdom”.
The burdens and blessings of life are means, not ends, in themselves. They express the dual creative energies of “being in its ceaseless effort” to enable every individual, Live, Learn, Love and leave some Legacy” of unselfish service towards enlightenment and peace in the world.