By the sensibilities of a small business owner, taxes are an affliction. Without so very many taxes, perhaps I could hire. Without so very many taxes, I could pay myself better or establish more stability. As an advocate of nonviolence and a provider for my family, it is hard for me to read how much of our taxes have gone to bloodshed. Like the deeper afflictions of bodily disease or mental illness, taxes are easy enough to see as a cloud without silver lining.
But, as with all other afflictions, there is a deeper truth about taxes. A significant part of my hard-earned money also goes to help those in need. Some of those dollars go into the roads I use. A very minor part supports my child’s education. Taxes are an affliction, but they are also a vehicle. A vehicle of war, unfortunately, but also a vehicle of mercy.
Take a moment and consider the passengers in your vehicle of affliction.
One vehicle of affliction for me is physical pain from dairy products, but the passenger is complete veganism. Another vehicle of affliction is addiction, and in that ride mindfulness and compassion. Taxes are simply another vehicle of affliction. Look at the fiery chariots coming and going.
What travels disguised as the distressing and unpleasant? What gift comes to you by a vehicle of affliction? Can you find the star in the darkness?
We would, in our childish inclinations, much prefer that every gift comes wrapped in happiness with a bow of peace. We would much prefer that there be no pain and no bloodshed. The ancient questions about the goodness of God arise because of this childishness – because we do not have eyes to see.
Today, take out the vehicle of affliction that you’ve been running from. Turn it over and see where the cracks are, where the light is spilling out. Go beyond mere positive thinking. The trouble with affirmations is that they often selfish. There’s nothing wrong with seeking the good for yourself, of course, but remember that your brother and your sister are also you. The boundaries of self are our cages, and all too often people think of happiness as opening a pretty gift while sitting in a tiny golden cage.
Perhaps what you regarded as an affliction, where you thought time was to be served or wounds to be healed, there is in fact a piercing of the boundaries of self? A crack by which the known and unknown self may be reconciled, a mystic union with the other that shatters identity?
The most luminous gift in the vehicle of affliction is the shattering of the cage.