Spiritual freedom is our reality. We can do any and everything that is humanly possible. Any and every experience that a human being can have can be had.
These are profound statements that few people ever fully realize, but when that level of realization arises, we turn our eyes back to the temporary world in a whole new way. We see ourselves and life in a whole new way. And for some of us, we find an interest in alleviating suffering.
And there is a lot of suffering in the world. Despite the promises of civilization and technology, it seems like those two things break more things than they fix. Current Western Society seems to be emphasizing a consumeristic individualism that is making people feel more and more alone and desperate rather than happy, connected, and fulfilled. Since 2000 in the U.S., suicide rates have gone up significantly. “During that 20-year period, the total suicide rate in the United States increased 35% from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.2 per 100,000 in 2018.”
Yet we are free to continue down this path if we want to, hoping that somehow more of the same things that are causing suffering will one day end it.
But if you’re like me and want to help alleviate suffering, then I think we need to focus ourselves and others on 3 critical areas for human development so that people can be at peace with themselves.
Arguably, the human animal body is inherently selfish. It wants food and water for itself. We do have to take care of our most basic needs. This is true.
But the level of selfishness that is being promoted in Western Society is beyond absurd. We don’t need so many things, and we don’t need to be the only one to have certain things, have recognition, and have whatever else a person thinks that they need to have. When we are lost in these endless desires, we become blind to the needs and situations of others.
Instead, it is critical for human beings to develop empathy. Empathy is an ability to understand another person.
It is not a new thing.
But I think empathy is deeply undervalued in a society that has created all these online echo chambers that reinforce the ego of any crazy individual and augment any crazy individual belief. Empathy is a deeper level of heart-openness, and when we are open in this way, it becomes more natural to actively find ways to support others and to reach out to others, particularly when others are suffering.
#2 Opening to Selflessness
From empathy, selflessness feels like a natural response. If you see that another is in need, giving up your time, energy, money, and other stuff to the other person is easy and simply what a sane person does.
Selflessness is a practice of doing for others what they need, not what you need nor what you think they should need. Too often, selflessness is corrupted by the person trying to be a good person or to get social approval for their good deeds. We see this all the time. It’s like when a country ships peanut butter to another country where there is lots of hunger, but the people there are allergic!
So what I’m talking about here is a purer version of selflessness. It comes from being open-hearted and open-minded so that you truly can see how to be of service in the moment. This selflessness is not beyond any of you. You all have this level of kindness. However, sometimes, it may be inconvenient to the ego. True empathy overcomes the complaints of the ego and “inconvenience.”
Additionally, true selflessness is not trying to fix everyone else to the detriment of yourself. If this is an issue for you, then it is time to get to work on your fixer-ego to resolve your woundedness. Just know that there are people who are selflessly giving of themselves and are ready to help you.
#3 Deepening Your Discipline
Finally, discipline is paramount! For most of human existence, the natural world disciplined us. If you wanted to visit someone, you had to walk there. If you wanted a comfortable environment, too bad. Your body simply had to adjust to different temperatures and weathers. If you wanted to eat, you had to gather, hunt, trade for, or farm it. And if you wanted something sugary? Ha! Good luck!
But now, we can work and live from home. We order food in. We barely have to walk 10 feet to get anywhere in our homes, so we have to supply the discipline that was once implicit in our lives. We have to discipline our eating. We have had to create exercise to offset sedentary life or compensate for jobs that are too repetitive, leaving some parts of the body too weak and others too strong. We have to learn to discipline ourselves in terms of media use to protect our brains from overuse and whatever the long-term repercussions of that may be. And there’s plenty more places where discipline is badly needed.
Otherwise, the health problems that are cropping up will continue to grow, and people are going to suffer more and more serious health problems and even death.
So as we adjust to this era of extreme comfort, we find that we have to discipline ourselves to take on healthy pain. We have to learn how to sit with our cravings for junk food, entertainment, and other forms of comfort without indulging them. We have to learn to better support our bodies. Otherwise, we will continue to get more and more sick from comfort and have more and more major social problems arise from so many people being physically unwell.
Doing Your Part in Human Evolution
As always, we can only do our own part. So I’m encouraging you to do yours. Take a deep look at yourself. See what you need to address.
If you need help, find a neutral third-party to get perspectives on ways you may need to be more disciplined or empathetic. You can also get ideas on where to be of service, and I recommend talking directly to the person/people who you think you need to help. In this way, you’re helping to actively support a spiritual evolution that can lead to less suffering in humanity.