Always the first response, regardless of what happens: "Well, now. What can we do with this?" Everything about our life is given to us so that we might play with it and see what we can make of it-- of what we can become thanks to it. Everything is a vehicle for our own becoming. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is worth nothing. Nothing is for nothing. Everything is going to impact us in some way. Is going to make some sort of difference in our life, in our way with life. Our place is to oversee the impact, to moderate the effect, for the good-- using it to shape ourselves in ways that enable us to better be who we are, clarifying us, if only to ourselves, defining us, refining us, bringing us out, bringing us forth, showing us, and others, who we are. Our life sets us up for the things that come our way. We bring it on ourselves as a gift from ourselves to us to round us out, complete us, grow us up. It is all a gauntlet, of sorts, an initiation process, an induction into the way of things, a test of our mettle, of our spirit, to show us what we are made of, and build our confidence in ourselves and in our ability to deal appropriately and successfully with anything that comes our way. Our role is to meet what meets us as though we welcome the challenge, and are looking forward ourselves to seeing what we will come up with next, how we will handle this, of all things, and what it has to teach us about ourselves. Practice the line until you can say it like you mean it: "Well, now. What can we do with this?"
For those of you interested in living out of your own center in the service of the work that is yours to do in the life that is yours to live, Joseph Campbell has this to say (From The Mythic Image, p. 178, hardback edition):
“There are three points of accord that make it possible to speak of modern depth psychologies in the same context with yoga.
First, there is the idea that the fate of the individual is a function of his psychological disposition: he brings about those calamities that appear to befall him.
Next, there is the idea that the figures of mythology and religion are not revelations from aloft, but of the psyche, projections of its fantasies: the gods and demons are within us.
And finally, there is the knowledge that an individual’s psychological disposition can be transformed through controlled attention to his dreams and to what appear to be the accidents of his fate.”
Our life is a meditation. Asking the questions that beg to be asked and saying the things that cry out to be said enable the reflections that lead to new realizations and "create doors where we did not think there would be doors," and opportunities for life in what we took for a barren wasteland.
We say what is ours to say, do what is ours to do, in the times and places of our living, and are gathered to our ancestors, and the world goes on as it always does. We speak truth to power and power has the leverage and the privilege and does what it always does. Nothing changes. "The more things change, the more they stay the same." The things Jesus and the Buddha said in their time still need to be said in our time. What? Here is the truth that is as true as the truth has ever been: The work does not depend upon the results! We say what we have to say-- what we MUST say. We do what we have to do-- what we MUST do. And let that be that. What comes of it is not our concern. Our only concern is to be true to ourselves, to what is ours to say and to do, and let the outcome be the outcome. We gauge success by the degree to which our life incarnated/reflected/exhibited/expressed who we are and what is ours to say and to do. What comes of it is just what comes of it. Our task is to be true to ourselves and to our work-- the work of expressing ourselves in the life we live. Beyond that, it is out of our hands. So, as Joseph Campbell said, "Get in there and do your thing, and don't worry about the outcome!"
We cannot impose our will for our life upon our life. We "take our orders" from a source other than ourselves. We align ourselves with "God's will for our life." We put ourselves "in accord with the Tao." We seek to follow "the path that calls our name." We say "we are not our own to do as we will." Then we tell people they are going to hell if they don't do it like we do it. Which way is it? We shun people, ostracize people, have nothing to do with people who don't do it like we do. We "say" in a thousand ways daily, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me!" All of the self-help books ever written boldly proclaim: "If you want to be happy, you have to do it like I do! And herein is the recipe!" What outlandish arrogance! Everybody finds their own way. Everybody has to do their own work. Joseph Campbell declares that the way is a different way for every individual, which is the meaning of the word "individual." Carl Jung says the same thing. Campbell: "The knights entered the forest at the point that they had chosen, where there was no path. If there is a path, it is someone else’s’ path, and you are not on the adventure. Now, what are you to do about instruction? You can get clues from people who have followed paths, but then you have to carom off that and translate it into your own decision, and there is no book of rules." Jung: “It is the individual’s task to differentiate themselves from all the others and stand on their own feet.” “The development of personality means fidelity to the law of one’s own being.” “Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own.” "The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." Our burden is our glory: Finding and living the life that is ours to live-- at the expense of the life we wish were ours to live. This is the working out of those age old themes, "From bondage to freedom." "From death to life." "Death and resurrection." "Darkness and light." "Asleep and awake." The ultimate duality is created by those who declare "There are no dualities!" The ultimate illusion is created by those who declare, "Duality is an illusion!" "No one is as blind as those who declare: 'I see!'" Seeing is borne out by the way in which we live our life. If seeing sees anything it sees all the ways in which it does not see at all, and does not boast of the great clarity of its vision. We find our own way. We do our own work. It is all up to us. All of our problems are simply doorways to realization, pathways to the Land of Promise, to the Farther Shore, which is always beneath our feet all the time. Like the man on his ox, searching for his ox. Like the woman holding her car keys looking for her car keys. Like the person moving the butter out of the way looking for the butter. We don't have to go anywhere to find what we are looking for-- we only have to realize that we are it. Just as we are. "The one thus come." "The father and I are one." Right here, right now.
We cannot impose our will for our life upon our life. We certainly cannot impose our will for someone else's life upon their life. These are the two fundamental/foundational principles of life that must be honored and respected, embraced and acquiesced to by all people great and small across all times and places in order for life to be lived the way life needs to be lived for the true good of all concerned, including ourselves. These two principles are the center and ground of democracy, and set it apart from all other ways of life together throughout the universe and all dimensions within which life might be lived. They are the end of caste systems and jihads, discrimination and injustice, and require us to live together in ways that are in accord with the Tao of all sentient beings, Tao being the name for The Spirit of the Times, in the sense of there being a time and a place for everything in its own time and its own place over all times and places, with the essential question being, "What is it time for in this place, here and now?" in every time and place. Balance and harmony, spirit, vitality, virtue/character, integrity and sincerity become the central features of life together for all concerned-- and we all live in ways that honor them and call them forth in our life and the lives of others. The Buddha and the Christ represent the end of all caste systems and the imposition of dharma/duty limiting people to prescribed places in the social order, and invite everyone to follow their own sense of the Spirit that is like the wind, blowing where it will, not knowing itself what it will do next over the full course of their life. The charge, "If you meet the Buddha/Christ on the road, kill him!" captures the essence of the matter. Each person is responsible for their own life and the development of their own potential for realizing, expressing, incarnating who they are and what they are to be about-- and no one can escape that by doing what someone else tells them to do. We are the Buddha! We are the Christ! And our life is the matrix within which we work out the implications of knowing and being who we are and are capable of being/becoming-- the first order/obligation being the creation and maintenance of an atmosphere/environment in which everyone realizes what is expected of/incumbent upon them and lives their life in accord with the Spirit of the Times in all times and places of their coming and going.