Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.
– A Course in Miracles
When a lesson is meant to be learned, it comes in a form of an experience which we would normally regard as a story. But usually, instead of paying attention to the essence of the lesson, we pay attention to the bodies, i.e. the people who are seemingly presenting the lesson to us.
Take for example, if my lesson is to receive unconditionally; and unconditionally here means without reason, without purpose, without fear and most importantly, without guilt; I would have entirely missed the lesson when I recognized that it was ‘someone’ who was giving me ‘something’.
I observed in myself that whenever someone gives me something, or love or concern, I usually have a mentality of wanting to give something back in return with intentions to ‘repay kindness’ or to ‘complete’ the cycle of giving and receiving, so to speak; otherwise I might reason with myself to accept or receive this gift beckoning that I’ve done this or that, and now this person is simply ‘returning’ a favor. These mentalities are accompanied with subtle stints of guilt. And for this, I entirely miss the point in acknowledging what is given to me is in truth, my entitlement and had instead given attention to this person or rather, the body. To give a scenario, if my husband gives me and I am grateful, I might think, “oh this man is a good husband and he treats me good; and I must do my best to return the kindness.” The truth is that, anybody who could have been my husband or any other person not in the husband role would have treated me the same way, bestowing the same kind or any kind of giving to me. Here, I could misperceive that my husband doesn’t love me (if the giver was another party) and may decide to give my affections to this other party; again failing to recognize that it is my entitlement. I would be totally oblivious to the essence of the experience thus calling a necessity for myself to come back here again, to learn my lesson. Having said that, I am not meaning to say that to receive unconditionally is not to give.
My teacher shared another powerful example the other day. If the lesson to be learned here is to give unconditionally instead and you are born a poor man this lifetime; would you still give, or hold on to what you have already perceived for yourself as not enough? And if I had given attention to the situation, failing to see the essence of my lesson, i.e. giving unconditionally, I’d miss the mark again.
Similar to having an issue with a close friend. Normally lessons come to us through people who are closest and dearest to our hearts. If it was just any other Tom, Dick or Harry, we might not have bothered. So take for instance if we were wise enough to pick up the essence of the lesson; we gained insights, understanding and clarity; why is it so we’d still feel somewhat awkward or uncomfortable in the presence of that particular close friend whom we have had an issue with before? You see, the attention has been given to the body again. What have the essence of the lesson got to do with this person who has seemingly presented the lesson? It is as though as we learn and accept the essence of the lesson, along with it is another level of ignorance seeing the ‘friend’ turned ‘fiend’ as a body, and thus evocating ourselves back into the cycle of birth and death again – never being able to fully release ourselves, and our so-called friend or fiend. We come back, again and again, seemingly having to ‘repay debts’ that were never even existed in the first place.
Worst when we already don’t have the wisdom to learn the essence of the lesson, and another lesson is being added onto our plate for the future already! This explains why at times we are unexplainably attracted to some people in our lives and vice versa, just as a natural magnet pulling us to them, or them to us.
It is not easy not to see our friend or fiend as a body, because that is what we see. But it is important to note that important lessons in our lives come through them because only they are capable of presenting them to us to a point that we could learn the essence of our lessons. In fact, it is not even possible to say that this person is the one who presented the lesson to us, for it is appropriate conditionings ripening that would have made it possible for a trigger to surface. And because this person is close and dear to the heart, it magnifies the issue so much more that it becomes too overwhelming for us to sweep it under the carpet.
The essences of the lessons are essential to the essence of our being, for that is why we are here. Within us, is our essence, our sacredness, our divinity. To a certain extent, there is a sense of comfort and security in the presence of those who distinguishes the essence, sacredness and divinity within us from the bodies that we think we are. Some glimpses of experiencing these essences are possible, only when we truly see pass the bodies and the layers of defense covering that essence. In that space, there is no judgment, no resentment, and no grudges. Simply only deep appreciation, deep love, deep peace for the ‘role’ the other has taken on to allow us to experience who we truly are within.