‘The purpose of life on Earth is relationship’
I remember exactly where I was when I first heard those words: Kastenienbaum, Switzerland, sweeping the balcony outside Reshad Feild’s office. It was July and the windows were open to do justice to the view of Lake Lucerne. In the mornings, Reshad talked to senior students whilst we guests did our allocated tasks.
The words brought about no epiphany in me because the awareness I possessed to interpret them had a very limited range. Relationship for me, at that time, meant intimate relationships and little else, and my score in that department was zero. Learning to think differently about things was the reason for coming out to Switzerland. So, gamely, I tried to swallow with appreciation the news that these painful collisions of sex and emotion were the point of it all and returned to my sweeping. At least I was quite good at that.
Nearly three decades have passed since then, and to me those words have become the best thing I know to offer at the start of a year that has yet to show that it will be significantly different from last year. If we are assuming that the world must get better before we can be happy, because it is what happens out there that makes or breaks us, we will be feeling low.
It is not what is out there that makes us suffer, the toxic personalities and rampant viruses, but the relationship we make with what is out there that triggers our responses, whether those responses are of joy, distress, distaste, or fear. It is what we bring in and how we bring it in that matters, because that act of appropriation makes it part of our own reality. The Internet has made vast the potential range of awareness for each of us and multiplied the number of streams entering our awareness. We need to be a lot more selective than we are if we are to reduce unnecessary suffering.
The space inside ourselves is where we, as individuals, create the world which we truly inhabit. The larger world is simply its backdrop. We create our world from the myriad relationships we make with everything that we perceive as the non-self and with the responses they produce within us. From the larger issues over which we may have no direct influence, to the small that concern ourselves alone; from the idea of death to the evidence that our cat has fleas, there are conscious authentic relationships to be made.
So often we live on our conditioned default settings, react accordingly, and fill our world with negative relationships, and not always because we do not know any better. We do not challenge ourselves because we share with others an agreement that the world should be better than it is, and that other people should be better than they are. We tell ourselves we deserve better, we should be given better, and in so doing we deprive ourselves of our greatest source of strength, which is the power to rearrange the space inside ourselves to make it our own.
The late teacher, Tara Singh, remembered now primarily for his championing of A Course in Miracles, said something I have carried down the years with me: “The wise man expects things to be none other than they are”. This does not prevent us from looking for opportunities even in the darkest conditions and working for change, according to our own assessment of a situation and our own capacities. This is what it means to be individual and feel empowered.
When it comes to blocking energy flow and encouraging a sense of helplessness and impotence, there are few things to rival that uncomfortable sense that we should be engaging with some fashionable issue that everyone seems to be talking about, yet do not really feel we have got it or have anything to contribute to it. Then, it is simply clutter that needs to be thrown out. Release yourself from it and save energy, time and words for the things that do move you! We are not all designed to be and to contribute in the same way. We are here to learn who we really are and how to discriminate, and we do this through our relationship with the non-self.
The esotericist knows that the assumption of personal responsibility raises the vibration from the Fourth to the Fifth sub-plane of the Mental plane. On the Fourth sub-plane we react in accordance with conditioning; on the Fifth we are authentic and creative.
After death we do not have this ability to stand back and challenge ourselves because there is no longer any non-self with which to make a relationship. We live then, unchallenged in the reality we have made for ourselves, be it Heaven or Hell or any place in between. This is the tragedy of suicide. Consciousness becomes trapped in the state of mind that caused the sense of defeat without the experiences that help us see things differently.
As an expression, living in our own reality, has picked up certain pejorative
connotations of delusion, escaping the fanciful, or simply limiting ourselves. Personal reality is limited, for sure, but it is also the place where we lay the sound foundations for something larger. Spiritual aspirants who have reached for larger realities before they have firm foundations in personal reality, have found only empty boxes that collapse when they try to stand on them.
Our homes, which we make over so confidently and improve with such enthusiasm, are simply the externalisation of our inner space, which is the product of our emotional and mental relationships: our personal reality. There is nothing fanciful or irresponsible about keeping our space clean and clear and deciding for ourselves what matters to us and what realistically we can take on, any more than there is in keeping undesirable company out of our houses. It is common sense.
Life on Earth, time and space, provide us with a non-self to help us come to understand ourselves, and live and contribute as authentic individuals. This is what is required now, and at this stage in the development of human consciousness: making intentional relationships within our own space and acting in accordance with them. It is for now, the Secret of Life, held like the genii in the bottle, until we develop the power to think in ways that will enable us to configure the larger world.