When the spiritual path is painted as, “Love God, do the right thing, and only good things will happen to you,” it is a superficial and one-sided explanation that misses the deepest truth about why we are alive. The Divine indeed showers countless blessings upon us, a truth which anyone breathing air right now would be hard pressed to deny. Yet we all sometimes create suffering through our own bad choices and past karma. And, even when we are doing the right thing, I believe God sometimes allows disappointments, delays, and frustration in our lives to draw us back to Himself, and to remind us of the true purpose of life. For no material thing, person, or amount of success could ever take the place in our heart reserved for the incomparable joy of Divine Communion.
I have found that sometimes disappointment is used to show me that I have been committing spiritual idolatry. Idolatry is not the worship of stones, but inner devotion to anything material we think will make us happy. If we truly believe that wealth, romantic love, success, etc. will satisfy us, we will soon learn the painful lesson that no impermanent thing can take the place of inner spiritual fulfillment. In this sense, the deeper lesson of some disappointments is not, “How can I do better next time” (even though such thinking has obvious practical importance) but rather, “Why did I think that this thing, person, or project could bring me true happiness?”
The good news is that once we learn the deepest lesson that only God-realization can give us lasting happiness, we can also enjoy the world as well. Jesus taught, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things (i.e. needs and wholesome personal desires) shall be given to you as well.” This promise was almost identically spoken through Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita when he said, “Those who worship me and meditate on me constantly, without any other thought – I will provide for all their needs.” These are wonderful divine promises and express the double blessing of putting God-realization first in one’s life! Yet much of modern religion misses the first part of the promise which, if overlooked, nullifies the second.
The way such a principal manifests in the lives of unique people is surely a mystery. Sometimes people understand from the beginning that God-realization is the superior bliss, but sometimes people are drawn to the spiritual path through suffering. Yet whether people are drawn through knowledge or through perpetual disappointment in outward pursuits, it is my deepest conviction that at some point all people will learn the difficult lesson that God-realization alone can truly satisfy us.
Enjoy your day! With love,
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