The worldly approach is to rearrange your circumstances according to the whispering desires of dominion. But your circumstances are only form, and all form tumbles and transforms endlessly. We can never recognize the kiss of the Beloved while we unblinkingly stare at the shifting dust. Until we have discovered within ourselves gratitude for unpleasant life lessons just the same as pleasant ones, we have not yet accepted the daily bread. Until we willingly submit to pain, we suffer in self-imposed exile.
I often see that terrible quote of Diana Robinson, “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” How awful it is to speak at God! Prayer is a dialogue of two, not a monologue being spit into the void. So is meditation. The difference lies in the approach. Prayer is language while meditation is companionably and silently sitting with the infinite. The luminous heart never stands at a podium and gives a speech to God.
When I attempt to describe gratitude for unpleasant life lessons, I often use veganism as an example from my life. There are many reasons to be vegan. One might do it out of compassion, concern for karma, concern for the environment, or just for nutrition. All these matter, of course. But the deepest reason for veganism, for me, is simply that I have been guided to it. Whether I have poor health or am just increasingly sensitive to my body, I am very aware of things like my heartbeat and digestive process. I am guided away from everything animal-based through the radio of body.
Not to get too sidetracked, but the violence committed in the meat industry seems to me very palpable. One does not merely eat a steak from a decapitated animal, one eats the decapitation itself. Meat product has its own sort of repugnant radio.
I am guided away from animal products, so I fall into veganism without any sort of mystical revelation. Yet, because of veganism, I am also better able to sit companionably with a rock, a tree, a frog, or the Beloved Himself. Having prayed for deeper union, I was guided by pain to the fruit and fulfillment of my prayer. That’s how my veganism exemplifies my gratitude for pain; this is the manner in which I mean you too should be grateful for the unpleasant and dreadful. When we do not have gratitude for unpleasant life lessons, we are turning away from the Teacher and His luminous, miraculous gifts.
What desire have you laid in the warmth of your heart, where your candles are lit at your inner altar? So long as it is not for dominion, mastery over all things, you are offered a road to it. Many pains we suffer are invitations to new spiritual roads. The fruit and the seed are both in you. After some demolishment of self, the plant can grow and the flower can blossom. When resistance to change is the ground of pain, accepting pain means change and healing.
Whether it be for health, abundance, or something entirely else, anything of the light that you might want is in the garden. That miracle remains, even though there are also thorn bushes in the garden. Ask, and you shall receive – but it might not be painless. Be grateful either way.
Eventually, having demolished enough self, we all stop seeking through the garden. The invitation of life is to simply wander the garden. The path without destination, wandering the garden without seeking this or that fruit, is the most lovely and miraculous journey of all.