It took many of us a long time to develop mature taste buds that can appreciate bitter and some still have not. For those who have, food is alive in ways we never imagined.
Sour flavors gave us an adrenaline rush and salty flavours made us salivate. When they were melded with the familiar sweet, comforting taste we already knew and loved, they made irresistible taste sensations. But one flavor continued to challenge our sensibilities, the flavour of bitter. From medicine to vegetables, we resisted all attempts to allow it to activate its receptor buds on the back of our tongues.
We had no idea what we were missing.
It took many of us a long time to develop mature taste buds that can appreciate bitter and some still have not. For those who have, food is alive in ways we never imagined. Now we enjoy not just bittersweet chocolate and coffee but sautéed spinach, watercress and a host of other vegetables, green, acrid and bursting with essential minerals vital for our health. When paired with other flavors, tasty is elevated to mind blowing delicious and food is elevated to fine cuisine. My personal favorite, carili (an extremely bitter pod vegetable) fried crispy and served with crispy fried fish, dhal (a cumin and roasted garlic flavoured yellow split pea soup) and sada roti (Trinidadian Indian flat bread).
Amazing how the more bitter it is, the more nourishing a plant tends to be. Where would we be without aloe vera, hops, yarrow and chamomile? The more poisonous, the more potent the healing medicine to be found within it, once processed with care and interestingly enough that extends to the painful and deadly venom of certain insects and reptiles. Yet, most people are not endeared by this at all and they certainly are not endeared by the bitter aspects of life, equally healing and nourishing they might be.
We live our lives feeling we have “lost” utopia. But the truth is that the utopia we crave is a figment of a fearful and childish imagination.
It is still taking many of us longer still to appreciate the delicacies of the darker, painful and yes, bitter aspects of life. When it comes to appreciating the nourishment to be had by the challenges of restriction, effort, sadness, loss, pain, and confusion we are still immature children, pushing away our plate of life’s green leafy vegetables and protesting the Divine medicine given to us daily for our benefit. Why?
The reason is simple, we have been socialised to demonise anything that is not pleasurable, sweet, easy flowing and easily conquered. We have been taught an unnatural and contradictory thing; pleasure = bliss and is Divine; while pain = suffering and is evil. For many of us, our introduction to the theological explanation for our existence was that our Creator intended for us to exist in a utopia of pleasure and plenty but sadness and pain come into the world because of evil and disobedience. Therefore pain equals some kind of punishment while pleasure equals Divine reward.
Amazing how the more bitter it is, the more poisonous, the more potent the healing medicine to be found.
We live our lives feeling we have “lost” utopia. But the truth is that the utopia we crave is a figment of a fearful and childish imagination. Pain, loss, sadness, disappointment, black holes, thunderstorms, quicksand, bitter taste buds, prickly plants and venomous creatures were always a vital part of the Grand Architect’s equation. What we lost was the ability to face these aspects of nature with respect and gratitude. What we lost was our fearlessness in the face of death and inner peace that stemmed from acceptance and appreciation that we are forever. Today, we continue to seek utopia by running away from the messages and medicine pain offers.
Out of every horrible situation, something good can happen. The moment you encounter a situation that is so evil, nothing good can come of it then you have discovered something unforgivable but as we discussed before, that is not the nature of the Universe we live in. While I may not be Christian myself, for many people the gruesome death of Jesus resulted in wonderful things for their lives. If African slavery had never happened, Obama would not be President of the United States, calypso, soca, Trini Mas, jazz, blues, rock and roll would not exist.
If you could only taste sweet, would you even know what was truly sweet and what was not?
Want to hear a strange personal admission? Not all of what came out of being sexually abused was bad. It made me the person I am today. I learned from an early age that adults are not always right and are often fearful of the truth and do not always KNOW the truth. That was huge! It liberated me at a young age. I became more compassionate. I became aware of myself and the world in ways most girls my age did not until much later. If I was never abused, I would not be writing this now or speaking of it to others and perhaps helping those who have been through the same situation. Therefore I cannot in all honesty feel absolute anger against my abuser and against God for letting it happen.
Our pagan ancestors understood the fine line and precarious balance of pain and pleasure more than we do today. They took time to consider and integrate the darkness around them. They used pain as part of their rites of passage. Pain and fear were things to be faced, conquered and in the process spark growth of the soul. They were not to be sanitised, demonised or erased. For this reason, they revered Gods of Destruction as well as Gods of Creation with equal fervour. When we erased this more balanced spirituality with one where pain was vilified as punishment from our Creator, instead of a natural part of life, we created a major imbalance in ourselves.
Religious salespeople exploit the personal tragedy, insecurity and hardship of people. From the tele-evangelists to the latest New Age guru and “How To Get Whatever You Want ” self-help authors, their solicitation always involves promises of a life where there is only eternal bliss and joy. In the run up to that, they offer a tranquilizing dogma and membership in a psuedo-utopian brotherhood which often “love bombs” new converts and promises to hide them from the complex realities of life, especially change. At the times of great uncertainty and despair, this seems like a wonderful relief. A world ruled by an unchanging God with unchanging principles and an afterlife that will also be unchangingly pleasant and perfect.
Eternal bliss like eternal torment contradicts the Law of Freewill. If we were unable to feel anything but happiness, we would be robotic Stepford Wife creatures of the Divine. The other Universal Law contradicts is Polarity, otherwise known as Contrast which is a universal essential to create a point of reference.
But a major spiritual awakening occurs when people realize they would be bored stiff in “Christian heaven”. They want challenges. They want an eternity of new epic adventures with nail biting, cliff hangers and adrenaline rushes. They want to push the boundaries and grow in the process. They want to continue to have freewill in the next life. They want to be able to use that freewill to throw a spanner in the works. Not even the most benign, politically correct, fluffy children’s programme set in a fun, cushy fairy world is without some kind of contrast or challenge that needs resolution to spark a learning curve in the child watching it. When you arrive at a stage in your spiritual development where eternal bliss becomes not only intellectually lazy but beyond childish, you are ready to appreciate why pain is not an evil or an unfair thing.
The older, pagan religions recognise the Law of Polarity in the Universe and celebrate creation as well as destruction as equally Divine.
We were designed to grow and no growth can happen without polarity, contrast and momentum and anything else is unnatural and nightmarish. Eternal bliss like eternal torment contradicts the Law of Freewill. If we were unable to feel anything but happiness, we would be robotic Stepford Wife creatures of the Divine. The other Universal Law contradicts is Polarity, otherwise known as Contrast which is a universal essential to create a point of reference. Let me explain:
Imagine if you suddenly found yourself in a dimension that resembled the infinity white studio background used in commercials or the “Loading Programme” in the movie The Matrix. The ground, ceiling, everything is white and it stretches on forever, flat, featureless. You can run for a mile and still when you looked around, everything looked the same, in fact, you lose all sense of direction and in no time at all, a little of your sanity. Then suddenly you see a spot that is darker than everything else around it. You will eagerly make for that spot with great relief and it will become your point of reference.
Both extremes of a life of pleasure only and pain only rob us our universal reference, a true sense of and appreciation for our existence which is essential if we are to actively chart our destiny. Pleasure without contrast or purpose leads to stagnation, sickness and ultimately suffering. Pain with no contrast or purpose leads to the exact same thing..
If every experience you had since you were born was pleasant and on an even keel, you would suffer from amnesia about much of your past. Days would blend into the other, featureless and uneventful. You will also cease to be creative for there is no necessity to do so. The same would apply if everything you experienced since infancy was painful. A starving child in Sudan, born into pain has no memory of day to day just a featureless span of monotone suffering and is unable to envision anything new. Believe it or not, a spoiled child in Beverly Hills who never had a single challenge in life and lived in effortless luxury also experiences the same creative inertia, amnesia and yes suffering. For the child in Sudan, the suffering is visceral. For the overly coddled Beverly Hills teen, it is emotional.
Pain is not evil, it is natural and we were designed to feel it for a reason just as we were designed with our bitter taste buds. So the first thing you need to do is stop demonising your Divinely created pain receptors and instead, thank God for this built in mechanism to deter, caution and slow down our push forward.
Both extremes of a life of pleasure only and pain only rob us our universal reference, a true sense of and appreciation for our existence which is essential if we are to actively chart our destiny. Pleasure without contrast or purpose leads to stagnation, sickness and ultimately suffering. Pain with no contrast or purpose leads to the exact same thing. Without contrast we have no idea what is up or down, black or white and all the shades in between. If everything you ate tasted sweet, would you even know what sweet truly is? Add a little sour to the sweet or bitter and suddenly, sweet has dimension and can be measured and fully appreciated. Contrast gives shape and scope to the Universe. It also assists in our ability to remember which is just as vital as our ability to imagine, for one cannot happen without the other.
Pain is not evil, it is natural and we were designed to feel it for a reason just as we were designed with our bitter taste buds. So the first thing you need to do is stop demonising your Divinely created pain receptors instead, thank God for it! How else would you know you have stepped on a thorn? How else you would know you are doing something that you should proceed with greater caution doing? Pain whether physical, emotional or mental is a built in mechanism to deter, caution and slow down our push forward. When the pain hits, you can choose to stop or continue. Sometimes when you continue, pleasure follows.
Just like bitter turns sweet to sensational, the most blissful sensation we can experience in our human bodies, orgasm, is a complex mixture of pleasure nerves enhanced with pain nerves firing in perfect harmony. Without that depth pain provides, pleasure alone feels as unbearable, like being mercilessly tickled until numbness sets in or something so sickly sweet, it is nauseating. True bliss happens when pleasure and pain are experienced with purpose and balance leading to a sustainable experience.
By surrendering to the natural childbirth experience more women are experiencing orgasm (bliss) during childbirth. Watch a news report on this growing phenomenon here.
For millenia, women were told by the Church that they were cursed with childbirth pain by God. The same Church persecuted and murdered thousands of women for the secret art of midwifery. These wise women knew how to aid women in childbirth to have a natural, complete and spiritual experience in the process. They were replaced by callous male doctors who treated with the female’s physiology as a painful problem, not a beautiful blessing.
Today, the medical world is re-discovering the benefits of midwives and doulas. Natural birth methods that allow women to truly surrender to the experience has resulted in an increasing number of women experiencing orgasm (pain & pleasure in perfect harmony) during childbirth. Could it be that as women rediscover their bodies and reclaim their sexuality and right to pleasure free themselves of shame, we are literally reversing how we “perceive” an experience that was seen as “suffering” and punishment? If so, this is small indication that pain is not suffering and not anti-bliss. It is all a matter of perception. We have the power to live in complete bliss, while experiencing pain.
We cannot ignore that the dark, dangerous, destructive side of life is part of us and essential to the experience of life. We try to stamp it out but it always manifests itself.
We may not like our intestinal bacteria, maggots and leeches but they serve a purpose. So too do earthquakes, serial killers and the bastard who cut you off in traffic. They exist because not only is there is free will and self-actualisation but polarity and momentum. The more you understand those mechanisms, the less suffering you will feel because you will appreciate that pain and pleasure working together create movement, change and growth. You are part of that growth whether you like it or not, so you might as well learn how to like it instead of fearing it, railing against it and finding religious ways to bury your head in the sand. You are an eternal work in progress and the pleasure/pain cycle, the Yin/Yang, the positive, negative poles create the currents that make your life and growth possible.
Break Your Pleasure Addiction!
Millions are suffering from seratonin and dopamine overload because of entitlement, ingratitude and addiction to pleasure that has led to a low pain threshold.
We are addicted to pleasure. Not bliss (which is a perfect balance of pleasure and pain and an enlightened perception of things) but the one-note, one dimensional, childish taste of cloying sweetness. The result? Seratonin overload! We are literally ill from sloth, apathy and a general feeling of purposelessness. Millions complain that they are unable to “feel” anything. Millions more are depressed even if they have no reason to be sad. Sadness (emotional pain) with no purpose to it! Now that is suffering! People are being born with lower and lower pain thresholds and expect such an unfair, unnatural amount of pleasure and ego codling by others that of course life and people will always be disappointing. We have people with every conceivable comfort, loving friends and family, opportunity and influence feeling depressed about their life. Why?
The Law of Polarity together with the Law of Consequence demand that if we go to the extreme one way, the other side must get more extreme to compensate. When the “easy life” quickly becomes bland, boring it leads us to behavioural extremes to add some kind of meaning to a featureless, effortless existence. Some of the ways people stabilise out this pain/pleasure imbalance are harmless. Many demonstrate their conquest over the illusion that pain = suffering through body art, piercings, BDSM sex and extreme sports. Teenagers choose to delve into beautiful sadness of Sylvia Plath, emo and Goth Culture. It scares and scandalises the living daylights out of the “normal” folk who have forgotten of a time when their ancestors willingly submitted to sad, scary, painful experiences and delved into the darkness. However today most people do it without any kind of spiritual rationale and sense of balance, trust in the Universe/Creator/Self and so, fall prey to dangerous extremes; addiction to hard drugs, self-mutilation and unhealthy thrills. We now have increasing numbers of young people who need to cut, starve, scare themselves or push their bodies to physical extremes, just to feel alive.
The Law of Polarity together with the Law of Consequence demand that if we go to the extreme one way, the other side must get more extreme to compensate. When the “easy life” quickly becomes bland, boring it leads us to behavioural extremes to add some kind of meaning to a featureless, effortless existence.
One of the benefits of pain, we have discounted is that it forces us to slow down. Pain is life’s yellow and red traffic light. It is our cue to proceed carefully, surrender, let go, retrace our steps, rest and take time out to heal. Unfortunately, being driven by our pleasure addiction, we have found ingenious ways to circumvent pain with technology. If a boulder stands in our way, we blast it with dynamite. If we invade the ecosystem and upset the balance that keeps a virus in check, we find ways to kill the virus so we can continue invading where we are not supposed to. We live in a world where we no longer have to do things the slow, hard and painstaking way because everything conveniently designed around instant gratification and avoiding hard work. As a result we do not stop to consider the impact of our actions on ourselves, others and our planet.
Many who are rich and famous struggle to deserve the success, admiration and power they have. They know somewhere deep down they did not really earn it. So they feel constant guilt, leading them to throw it all away and ruin their lives to the morbid satisfaction of those who resent their good fortune.
When we move through life with such haste while addicted to pleasure and feeling overly entitled we often do not notice the hand of God/Universal Laws at work and the contribution and sacrifice of others who bring what we need into our lives. Is it any wonder we have to dig deeper to feel grateful?
Many who are rich and famous struggle to deserve the success, admiration and power they have. They know somewhere deep down they did not really earn it. So they feel constant guilt, leading them to throw it all away and ruin their lives to the morbid satisfaction of those who resent their good fortune. Their state of inner lack and powerlessness disables their ability to be grateful and see their wealth as a gift of power to be used for the benefit of mankind. On the flip side of this, others take what they have for granted and seek more than their fair share at the expense of others. Powerlessness and lack are also driving their actions. Guilt and greed are siblings that come from egg of ingratitude. Lack of awareness and gratitude for the difficult processes that make our comfort possible and taking responsibility for the power we have, makes us extremely entitled and easily affronted for no good reason or extremely apathetic and discontent for no reason at all. We experience suffering far more than necessary as a result and the harder it is to forgive.
Amazing freedom awaits you my friend when you let go of your pleasure addiction and “punishment” mentality. You will discover the ability to delight in things others find tedious achieving what many call “Zen”; the ultimate acceptance of how things are. Many of your feelings of “unfairness” and “affront” will become mere illusions. This is my friends is the source of forgiveness. Before you can forgive anyone, you need to “forgive” or accept the entire Universal experience and its Architect. Yes, I said it! You need to forgive God for putting you through this experience.
No slow painful climb means no thrilling acceleration. So just accept things and enjoy the ride!
Like that painful immunization injection or exposure to chicken pox your loving mother made you endure, the negative aspects of our Universe are not designed to permanently ruin our existence but perfect our soul and build our antibodies. You are fortunate to be given this opportunity to learn and grow, no matter how hard the lesson and medicine might be. Nobody is doing anything to you! Nobody can! You are an eternal part of a Universe that allows polarity. You attracted it. You can choose how to perceive it. You can change it by exercising your freewill. You can heal from anything for you are eternal. You can experience bliss in the bitter medicine because you know the bitter taste is just as much a blessing as the sweet taste. You want multi-dimensional flavor in order to keep learning and growing. You accept that this momentum is made possible because of polarity. A roller coaster would not be much fun if it was level. The slow painful ascent is essential for the euphoric descent. Together they create a blissfully exciting life experience. Just let go and enjoy the ride!
So hopefully now you can begin accessing the knowledge and thinking that helps you gain the Forgiveness Power Up. But want to know why I call it a Power Up? That’s next.