Spiritual Recovery and Survival in Hard Times

Financial crisis does not have to lead to family crisis. Economic troubles don't have to result in relationship or health problems.

You can still be reasonably happy, healthy, loving, and cheerful in spite of external circumstances.

We all know this at some level. We have all heard that money can't buy you happiness. We've all seen families who have very little, but who have a lot of love. We've seen great men and women come out of poverty.

Many of us who are a bit older remember when we were young newlyweds, for example, and had nothing but a one room apartment, a lamp, and some boxes to sit on. We remember that we were happy, much happier than years later when we had many material possessions.

Some of us have experienced getting what we wanted, having our heart's desire and yet feeling miserable and unfulfilled.

So if you know this, why do you get upset, worried, distraught, and begin to have a churning stomach when you can't pay all your bills or lose your job?

The reason why is both simple and profound. First the simple sound byte version: you've permitted yourself to become upset over trivial issues. Thus you indulged emotions, and now when the bigger issues arrive, you are easily thrown out of control. How can you remain calm in big troubles when you allow yourself to get upset by the little ones?

The simple answer is this: start to exercise what character you have left. Have some discipline. Be a man. Be a woman. Set a good example for your kids. Don't indulge worry, doubts, fears. Never take counsel of your fears, a great general once said. Be patient. Remember: this to shall pass. Get busy, do something: go for a walk. Help someone. Look for work. Volunteer. Forget self.

Pay special attention to and beware of anger, which makes you wrong and guilty, and which conditions you to be reactive and out of control. See how judgement leads to anger. Let go of judgment.

Now the more profound reason why we permit external circumstance to affect our inner life, and by extension our relationship with others. We are egotistical and selfish. We lack faith, and we have always been taught to look to the outside for answers or into our intellect for answers. We are too externalized.

In other words, we look to the outside world for guidance. We look to the outside for support and comfort for our ego. And when we are not looking to others, we are looking into our intellect, hoping to dredge up some answer from there.

Where we should be looking is to intuition, what we ascertain wordlessly in the inner Light from God. But we avoid intuition, because having strayed from it, it now comes back as 20-20 hindsight. It feels like conscience, and it makes us feel bad. And as long as we don't want to be sorry and admit our mistakes, we avoid feeling bad and shun conscience.

Of course, that is what just about everyone else is doing to. Can you see the folly of looking to some exert for guidance: an expert who is a prideful intellectual and who is devoid of conscience because he or she avoids conscience too? It is truly a case of the blind leading the blind.

But as I said, it is not totally your fault. You could not help inheriting the nature that is prone to being prideful. Nor could you help believing what everyone told you to do: get an education, look to experts for knowledge, be ambitious, set goals, and so on. You may have had a suspicion that there was something wrong with the teachers, educators, professors and experts' advice, since most of their own personal lives ended in failure.

But you did not grasp intuition (your hunch about such things) firmly enough. In your natural pridefulness, you wanted to get what you could out of life, and you went down the garden path that everyone else said was the way to go.

Without true faith, how could you argue with the material possessions, seeming pleasure, and monetary benefits others were getting from working the system?

Yet, perhaps you suspected that all was not what it was cut out to be. You may also have seen examples of people who were industrious but not ambitious, who were principled and honorable and who succeeded without copping out, lying, cheating or tricking people.

Now it is not your fault that the culture in which you live does everything in its power to convince you that the answer to your problems is out there somewhere. We are told education is the answer, that knowledge is the answer. We are told that romantic "love" is the answer. We are always looking to some person to make us happy, cure us, or give us some secret to getting rich.

Advertisers, and particularly the chemical pharmaceutical companies, spend billions to convince you that the answer to your problems lies in a pill.

We are treated like sheep, like children, even worse. We are treated as if we were animals: just chemicals, hormones, and stimulus response animals.

Until you fully grasp that you are a human being with a soul, and until you find the secret to the power of good available within to resolve problems, you will be at the mercy of those who want power over you.

The answer is within. The answer is in learning to become objective and aware, functioning from intuition, with faith, and the guiding of intuitive understanding, and the protection of God's inner Light. The answer is to trust more in your own God given intuition than in what others say.

So long as you look to the world for answers, for love, or for some sort of ego validation, you will remain tied to the world and dependent on it. You will become resentful when others betray you.

So long as you are externalized, when a change occurs, when the rain falls, the economy falters, or the customers aren't buying, you will become upset and frustrated.

Learn to go through life with equanimity. Do not become overly excited when things go well. Don't become crestfallen when they don't. Remember: man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God.

Also remember that other people are lost too. Others are externalized. They have not found the answer. No one loved them enough to tell them the truth. No one had the understanding to share with them the inner path to God.

Therefore you must not hate other people. Many of us have grudges against our parents for not guiding us properly and for letting something bad happen to us. Just remember: they could not give you what they did not have themselves. Also know that hatred and resentment cuts you off from inner love.

Begin by letting go of your resentments against others, beginning with those closest to you. Stop looking to the world for love and guidance. Stand back and observe. Listen to what people have to say without reacting emotionally for or against them. When you read, don't get absorbed. Instead scan lightly for clues.

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