I interviewed for a job recently that sounded perfect for me. When I told my friends about the position they all laughed because it seemed like such a great fit. It turns out it wasn’t because the company decided not to proceed with my application. It stings and also doesn’t make much sense to me.
I started puzzling out why they didn’t hire me, trying to comprehend their reasoning. My therapist told me, “Some things don’t make sense and sometimes suffering happens.” Ouch. Can that not be true? Thanks. It’s interesting to notice how much I don’t accept this perspective. I want a reason for everything. I want to know why. Why did a man try to run over pedestrians because he thought they were Muslims? Why did someone open fire on a synagogue during a Passover service? Why did a man shoot elementary school students?
There are lots of possible answers — people are sick, they’re hurting, etc. — but there are many sick and hurting people that don’t kill others. Can I allow myself to instead grieve over the fact I don’t understand why people act this way? My adult self can rationalize ad nauseam, but the young part of me doesn’t understand. Doesn’t understand why a job that seemed so perfect slid away, doesn’t understand why people disappear, and certainly doesn’t understand why people are cruel.
I think part of this is because I prefer to live in denial, or an idealistic fantasy. I mean, I know bad things happen, but I like to rush by them as quickly as I can like walking past foul-smelling garbage. It’s hard for me to accept the harshness of life.
In my spiritual tradition, we say God is an acronym. It stands for Generator, Operator, and Destroyer. I can totally get behind the generator and operator part. I’m all about creation and maintenance. The destroyer though? Surely that’s not God, is it? It is. Black holes are God and death is God and decay is God. It’s painful for me to admit that, I don’t want it to be true, but it’s true nonetheless. This is the cycle of life, a never-ending rhythm of creation, operation, and destruction.
My spiritual teacher says, “An indivisible cosmic rhythm which started from beginningless time marches ahead to infinity. No creature can remain away from this internal divine flow.” He also says that which is beyond the scope of causality is liilá. What we don’t understand, what we can’t explain, is called liilá. I could spend my life trying to figure out things I’ll never have an answer for, or I can give in to the rhythm and join the dance.
I dream of a world where we realize we won’t understand everything. A world where we allow ourselves the time and space to grieve the senseless and the tragic. A world where we understand that, too, is God, and that, too, is a part of life. A world where we keep dancing with the universal rhythm.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.