Keeping the Big Picture in Sight

A question I hear in various forms: "Whenever I read or listen to the news (which I don’t even want to do anymore) most stories are of political chaos and corruption, violence, and mass killings of civilians. These are women and children! It’s just unfathomable. So many scary things, like the environment and projected global disasters. If it wasn’t for a “bigger picture” perspective I’d be scared to get out of bed! What ever happened to religious principles? Do they only apply to some situations (people) and not others? I know there is a higher power at work, but I have to wonder, why are all of these terrible things happening?"

We can't always see the big picture or feel God or that higher power behind everything, but it is there nonetheless. That is the foundation of faith that all the great mystics and spiritual teachers have realized. God isn’t known through an outside source, God is experienced within.

Humankind is facing great challenges and projections of a perilous future. Why are these things happening? The struggle toward spiritual maturity takes place between the ego or childlike part of human nature that sees itself as the center of the universe, and the higher nature, which sees from the perspective that we are a part of the whole, all cells in the body of humanity. What we do to another we are actually doing to ourselves. In our immaturity we believe that violence justifies violence, or that the end justifies the means. In our growing maturity we recognize that only a good influence can overcome an evil one. The means ultimately determines the end.

When the world is looked at from the perception of the self-centered nature there is a striving for power and advantage. There may be talk of an afterlife but no inner awareness or conviction of what that really is. In our early lives we have opportunities to develop a healthy ego, learn to set personal boundaries and to get along with ourselves and others. If we mature enough to embrace a spiritual path our awareness is drawn inward and we connect with our inherent higher nature. At that point we begin to let go of ego and our choices become very different. We begin to recognize that everything happens for a purpose. We are personally and collectively given opportunities to learn and grow from the challenges that come our way. We become aware that at the end of this life we take what we are with us, including the consequences of the choices we’ve made. Everything we do matters – starting with the thoughts we choose and the actions that follow.

We are born into this life with a purpose. It is to become who we truly are. What happens to us is not who we are. We are what we choose to become. These times are challenging us to recognize and follow the wise guidance that comes from our own connection to that higher power. This guidance is always in accordance with spiritual principles. We can make that connection directly from within and we can also recognize it when we connect with an outside source and feel confirmation within.

We can’t control what happens in a given moment but we can control our response to it. In many ways, it is the great traumas we encounter that teach us and grow us more deeply if we are willing to stay the course. Challenges are part of our experience at every stage because it is through solving our problems that we learn and grow, and it is trust and faith that sustain us. These times are calling us to open our hearts and find the courage to be steadfast in our personal and collective journey toward maturity and healing.

Cheryl Canfield, CCHT, 2024