In recent conversations with a friend from college, the idea that we – as young spirits attempting to be compassionate, good, loving, decent human beings – struggle day in and day out with all of these qualities that we want to represent. Why is it that when one makes a commitment to serve a particular faith or belief system (or to simply live as a “good person”) that the heavens don’t just open up, embrace the newly converted, and promise life to be simple and painless and enjoyable until the end of life? Shouldn’t the intention to live “good” be enough to qualify one as “good”? Why is life harder now than it was when I didn’t care about being “good”?
There is a parable in the yogic tradition that may be helpful in shedding some light on why good people suffer, or why life isn’t necessarily easier for good people. It has to do with the amount of light in which we see; in other words, in how much we understand and know. A man who lives in a hut can see nothing in his room during the blackness of night, but can see everything in midday’s light. During the twilight hours, when the light is minimal and darkness creeps into the corners of his eyes, his vision is distorted and things become unclear. If he sees what he thinks is a coil of rope in the corner of the hut, he imagines it may be the rope, or it may be a coiled snake, and his uncertainty makes him afraid and panicky. He reacts to what he imagines is reality because he does not know what is actual. If the man checks the corner in midday’s brightness, the truth (rope or snake) is easily revealed. If the man stumbles around in complete darkness, he sees neither rope nor snake and there’s no need for anxiety. Those who seek the truth are not submerged in total unknowing (darkness) but stumbling toward knowing (lightness). Along the way, knowing and unknowing are often unclear, twisted, distorted.
Another way to look at it: the closer you get to the light, the more flaws are revealed. But the beautiful thing about awareness: the instant you recognize your lack of awareness, you gain awareness. Insight produces insight.