The greatest spiritual master is life itself and his highest lesson, our test of fire, is the experience of suffering and death. It is teaching us nothing less but unconditional love, radical openness for life. There is no true maturity and evolution of consciousness without suffering. Suffering helps us to learn the lesson of detachment from the world of dust, all the sages and artists, mystics and prophets tell us the same thing. They sometimes call suffering “the refining fire“:
“O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants.”
O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
“‘Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men.’.” ~ Seneca
“Gold and silver are tested by fire, and a person’s heart is tested by the Lord.” Proverbs 17:3-13
“For the true student, everything that happens in daily life is a test” ~ Karlfried G. Durckheim, Zen-Master and Christian Mystic
“For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.” ~ Psalm 66:10-12
“Treasures in the jars of clay
let the light shine out of darkness
fallen down but not destroyed
it’s just another trial by fire
in my song I send a prayer
do you know me do you hear me…”
~ Journey, Trial by Fire 1996
We realize the infinity and immortality of our Soul – the absolute freedom right at the core of our being – only through the experience of suffering. No one likes to suffer, but suffering inspires human evolution, gives rise to higher consciousness. There is a hidden grace, wisdom and truth in suffering that we can only receive through that humbling “fire”. Without the fire of suffering, there cannot be the light of its overcoming. If everything were perfect, nothing could evolve. Only if the caterpillar releases its old form, it can turn into the magnificent divine butterfly and realize it’s highest potential. That’s a painful process, it is like dying from one viewpoint. From another it is the birth into a greater consciousness.
In exactly the same way a transformation is happening in the different time-frames of our lives, from one stage of our evolution to the next. This happens at the level of the individual and it happens simultaneously at the global collective level. Every individual crisis in our personal story is linked to the global crisis of the whole human race:
something new is emerging.
And that’s actual a good think, folks. Our little egos don’t like that, because they fear change, they are attached to the old, they fear the uncertainty of life and avoid suffering, but it is necessary, it is part of the Divine Design of Creation, the “One Great Chain of Being”. The Creator invented it for the sake of evolution. We have only to do one thing: trust the greatest of all spiritual masters, Life, God, that it can create something good from our lives, transform the city of our suffering into greater spiritual light. It is not our job to figure everything out, to control life, it is only our job to play our role in this cosmic play, this epic story of the universe.
What’s your most beautiful, most great, most pure verse to creation? What is your contribution in this day and age? What in your life prevails all the suffering? What is it worth fighting for? This is the perfect day to contemplate about these questions.
© mark david vinzens
Seeds of Contemplation
O Me! O Life! By Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1892)