Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heaven or Hell-it is our choice

I’m feeling like I should write something. I’ve been negligent, as always, in keeping up with writing. Somehow it seems like I never have time, though I know that is just an illusion.

We (my husband and I) watched Grey Gardens tonight. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth watching. The acting is astonishingly brilliant. It is about two women who shut off the world, shut off their surroundings, and continue in such fashion until they are living basically in one room of a mansion with no water, phone, or heat, and every room but the bedroom is piled high with cat food cans and trash. They are not depressed about this. Not even disturbed by it-or if so, only mildly.

Meanwhile, I grouse at my loving husband because he didn’t do the dishes the night before.

The mind is a powerful blessing or weapon. With it we can create a paradise out of a dung heap or a fiery hell out of a Shangri-La. In the Washington Post Magazine this weekend, there is an article about a man who decided to become a Hare Krishna. Now, he is revered as a saint, but when he first came into his beliefs he ran into trouble in Argentina. There, they didn’t look kindly on “cults” especially at that time, so he was imprisoned. The jailor, in an effort to humiliate him, demanded he clean up a floor smeared with human feces. At first he balked, and who wouldn’t? But he decided that it must be a test that Krishna had sent him. And so, he cleaned up the floor in joy (as he put it) and did so over again much to the amazement of the guard. Of course, it was not Krishna who gave him this joy, it was the decision he made within his own brain that resulted in the joy. He could have done it all for an eggplant, it would have made no difference (no offense to Krishna).

C.S. Lewis once said in his story, The Great Divorce, that those who end up in heaven will feel like they’ve always been there, while those who end up in hell will likewise seem like they’ve always been there. I see this around me all the time in the people I meet. I’m sure you do too. There are those individuals who seem just set on being miserable, victims, unhappy with everyone and everything. It doesn’t matter their circumstances. They could be rich or could be poor; status is irrelevant. They are settled in their state. Then, there are those who are always happy, content, smiling, hopeful, loving and again, the status is again irrelevant-they might be rich or they might be homeless. Somehow, they are just always happy and peaceful, no matter the circumstance.

Obviously it is the mindset that makes the life. Circumstances have nothing to do with it. Choices of how to react to circumstances have everything to do with it. True happiness comes from one’s own mind, not the swirl of the world and its happenings

The truly great thing about being human is having the power to choose. The truly tough part about being a human is that we have choices. In many ways, it’d be so much easier if we didn’t. Yet, the fact is we do. A person cuts me off in traffic and it is a multiple choice exam. Do I: A. honk at him and give him the finger B. Snarl and cuss and comment on his mother C. Laugh and sing D. Pray that he is okay, for something must be wrong for him to be so clueless. The options are endless. That is our great dilemma as humans. That is our great power as humans. We are never victims. We are choosers. We create. We either do this consciously or we just go into default mode and we do so unconsciously.

Let us embrace our humanity and consciously choose to create heaven here and now despite whatever gross and unfair circumstances have been flung at us. We do not need to be in denial of reality. We need only to smile in the face of it and choose peace and joy in full knowledge of it and despite it. When Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is within you” maybe this is what he meant.


Kathy T said...

I think for the mother it might have been a sort of heaven...It also speaks about not being able to let go on many levels. For Drew's character (Weren't their names Eve and little Eve?) I think it became a place of resignation and perhaps an inability to move forward and a bit about feeling trapped and then perhaps an acceptance. I'm not sure Drew's character consciously chose to remain at Grey Gardens.

G. Koep said...

Your post expresses how I have always felt. To think that we don't have a choice in how we react to life is just lazy thinking. It might take a radical shift in how we live and look at the world, but it can be done. Easy - no. Possible - absolutely. All the great teachers across the ages tell us of such liberation. Like Bob Marley - "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind." Thank you for this post.