How does the universe work in people’s daily lives? Can it be pleaded and cajoled into meeting our prayerful and worshipful requests? Or is it one of those forces that work like a clock, set at the beginning of time, completely oblivious to human suffering?
As I listen to the tales of individuals who seek my help, I wish I had a magic wand powerful enough to help everyone heal successfully. I wish that I could understand how to use the power of the universe better in my work and to help my patients do the same. The bottom line is, I wish I could figure the universe out so that people that I care about, myself included, wouldn’t need to suffer so much.
Recently, I learned a lot from two women who are fanatically devout. One woman informed me that God told her what clothes to wear, what to eat, and whom she should marry. Another woman obeyed her religious tenets without question and was a Good Samaritan at all times. They did, however, have some glaring flaws. The first one seemed to me to be too dependent on God to tell her what to do. The second woman was kind to everyone, but could hardly refrain from saying a self-derogatory comment the moment she spoke.
The first woman had a very chaotic life. She was dependent on welfare, had unstable relationships, and her children suffered from her “God-driven” life. The second woman prospered financially, but she was often filled with guilt for not being good enough, and she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. When I looked at their lives, I wondered about the universe and God, and came to the conclusion that a God-centered life, though admirable, was not enough for a happy life. There was something missing in these women’s lives, and the missing piece was important.
One day during one of my sessions with a patient, my musings on the universe came to a rewarding though somewhat ridiculous analogy of its workings. I shared my thought with my patient, and it made sense to her as well. I shared it with another patient, and he was so impressed he was speechless. So here it is. (Drum roll please)
The universe is like the anonymous matching donor during a telethon.
The woman who waited for God (the universe) to make everything work for her, lived in a universe that was waiting for her to make everything work for her. The woman whose inner life was filled with self-hatred met the fate of an illness that attacked self. The man who complained he was treated with disrespect and thoughtlessness was getting back what he did to himself so often without thinking.
“Now wait,” you’ll say. “What about all the people who worked hard, but were never rewarded? How is the universe matching their efforts?” I have thought of this as well, and my belief is that in all things there is a direct consequence which comes as a result of the thing thought, done, felt, seen and so on. The consequence is not what we would look for in life as a noteworthy reward, but for all acts there is an inherent, but subtle consequence.
This concept is embodied in the analogy of the man who pushed against a boulder. Every day the man pushed against the boulder, but it never moved. After many months, the man stopped pushing, thinking that nothing had been gained from all his efforts. But something had been gained. After months of pushing, his strength and muscles had become greatly developed, every effort he had made was matched by his newfound strength.
When we think of the universe as the anonymous matching donor in a telethon, it brings us face to face with the missing piece, the important piece that allows each of us to be happy: our self. Begin with the small step of donating a piece of unconditional love to yourself and watch the universe give it back to you unconditionally. Move into the unknown with integrity and a humble regard for the highest good, and the universe honors you and people are humbled by your presence.
Remember to give that which you want to return to you. Begin with yourself.