I have often read that spirit is the real part of us, and this physical life is an illusion. This comes up in countless ancient spiritual texts. I have wondered, How can that be? The ground is hard, the air is soft, and my body grows and changes. It needs food and water and air or else very bad things will happen to it. That surely is not illusion, that’s fact. And yet there are obviously many layers of illusion in the way we approach our living within the physical world, make our way through some sort of path or destiny, and relate with other creatures in our world.

We start out in life buying into the habits and illusions of our parents, our society, our history. We tend to expect life to be hard and full of limitation, and so we make it harder than it needs to be. So hard in fact that many human beings, at younger and younger ages are just giving up. Instead of living their life, they choose something else.

This shows itself in many forms and degrees – as mental illness, drug addictions, alcoholism (one of the least-feared and most-deadly addictions) depression, suicide, violence, homelessness, and chronic physical illnesses. Emergency rooms all over the country are overflowing with all of these. Helplessness is a steadily growing career-choice, and has become accepted by our society as valid. Those of us who choose to live responsibly, usually pay the way for all those who choose not to. This creates conflict and anger in our hearts, and weighs heavily on our consciences.

The external solutions like welfare systems and cash assistance programs have not brought improvements to the vast majority of these lives, only to those who had some motivation and made some effort of their own. For all the rest, this well-intentioned “help” simply made it easier for them to continue choosing helplessness and failure with a bit more comfort and societal support. It troubles me that whatever our good intentions, we are not doing a kindness to the “helpless, homeless, and hopeless” by carrying them through life. We are mostly helping to perpetuate their condition, further damaging their sense of self-worth, and providing them with a practical reason not to change, and not to grow.

One of the hardest truths to accept the full impact of is the truth of Free Choice and Co-creation: that we are always co-creating with God, our lives and our world. It is a truth that I am learning myself, and trying to practice in my own life. You can be sure I am making my share of mistakes in the learning process.

It sums up like this: A basic truth and inescapable condition of human life is that we have freedom of choice (whether we want it or not) and that God/the universe gives us what we ask for, whether we ask consciously or unconsciously. We can live in denial of this responsibility, or pretend we don’t know, or pretend that we “have no choice.” That too, is a choice. There is no "bad luck" for some people and "good luck" for others, unless you believe (choose) that for your personal reality.

There seems to be a widening rift in human society, in the choices people are making. Those who believe they are not valuable to other human beings, tend to believe they are not valuable to God. None of that is true; all of us teach and all of us learn. But those who believe they are helpless and useless, will not dare to ask God for what they really want in life with a firm faith believing that God will give it, and they do not venture to take action toward it. They believe they have to beg or cheat to get anything in this world, and so it is for them. They create their lives in forms and ways they do not really want, and then blame fate or luck or God.

How shall we fix this? Philosophers and saints tell us we don't need to fix it. I don't have the answer, but I can assure you with absolute certainty that it cannot be fixed from the outside. It can only be healed one by one, soul by soul, from the inside of each person.
We cannot fix another person’s life for them, not with all the money and medicine in the world. They will still choose what they will choose. That is their God-given right.

Souls are born into this world in order to set certain lessons for themselves in this lifetime and challenge themselves to grow. No path is without value to the soul’s purpose. Every experience is valid and valuable, including the ones you and I have not chosen. To honor our brother's path means to accept his choices, and respect his right to choose, just like our own.

Maybe we would do best if we let go of the societal guilt, and simply honor our brother’s path and try to help him through it. And if we choose to support those who have chosen a different path, we should recognize that it is their
choice, and not somehow our fault. When we recognize that God is not helpless or careless or cruel, we must see that all of these are as free as you or I. They are as much loved by God, and God has given to them with exactly the same measure as to you, to me, and to everyone. “According to your belief is it done unto you.”

If your life is not what you really want, recognize that you made it that way, and that recognition will empower you to change it. Choose something else, and begin. In whatever way you can, no matter how small, begin to move toward your new choice, and God/ the universe will move to support you in it. Choose, commit, and step out in faith. Believe you have received it, and be ready to see it manifest in your life, for it cannot do otherwise than what you believe.

If you believe in hopelessness, you will be without hope. If you believe in helplessness, all the welfare money in the world will not free you. Instead, choose to believe in the generosity of a loving and watchful God, and you will be abundantly blessed. The choice is always yours.

Every soul comes to the earth bringing a gift. There is purpose in this. Our brother who has taken a different path has something to teach us. And just like we do, he teaches it with his life.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets