By James Westly

The Value of Experience

By James Westly

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We gain wisdom and strength through experience. Who among us would deny that we wish to acquire these characteristics, but what does it take to deserve these most noble attributes. Does the person who remains secure and protected become strong and wise? Anyone reading this would intuitively know with a moment's reflection that remaining sequestered and protected would only sustain a state of weakness and naivete. So, we can conclude without too much mental strain, that a strong wise person is one who has had a broad range of experience, some of which has not been pleasant or positive.

If we consider all human life to ultimately be a path of spiritual development, then everything we experience is a part of that path and contains teachings for us that promote our spiritual growth. This includes many experiences that normally come under the jurisdiction of the counselor, or psychologist.

Our spiritual path may include life experiences that are difficult to assimilate. Things like alcoholic parents, childhood sexual abuse and various other traumas. Many of these spiritual experiences are so powerful that just to survive them physically and psychologically is a major feat. And then, to consider, that they were somehow "placed" on our path as part of our spiritual growth, may, at times, boggle the rational mind. Yet, when we begin to assume the attitude that everything we experience was meant to serve us in some way, we have to opportunity to perceive the events of our life in an entirely different light.

One the first benefits of this new attitude is the immediate release from victimhood. We no longer are the helpless victims of the random accidents of an impersonal universe. We actually have a responsibility in everything that has happened to us. This may be hard to swallow at first as our rational mind cannot "see" how that works. In the beginning we may have to accept this idea as theoretical, at least as it applies to some parts of our lives.

However, if we allow the idea of total responsibility to merge with the idea that strength and wisdom can only be developed through adversity and trial, we may begin to see just what strength and wisdom we gained as a result of having survived the various traumas of our life. Something worked. Survival required the development of some new quality that was lacking in our character. When we take ourselves out the "poor me" syndrome, or the projection mode, "they did it", we discover the new being we have become.

Now, it is true that along the way we developed coping mechanisms, they were required for our survival. It is also true that these coping mechanisms may now be "dysfunctional" and need healing. But if we recognize them as a part of our spiritual development, and not see them as some sort of "illness", then we have already made substantial progress toward adjusting what once served us so well but is no longer appropriate.

Finally, we have those individuals who were the teachers, the perpetrators of the traumatic experiences, the ones who "did it" to us. As we move through the process of assimilating this new attitude and actually begin to see for ourselves just exactly how our life path has been one of growth, we gradually become infused with a sense of gratitude toward those who were the instruments of that growth, and we discover the true meaning of Christ's injunction: "Love thine enemies." We move out of chaos, negativity and meaninglessness into gratitude, love and fulfillment.

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Practical Wisdom © James Westly, All Rights Reserved


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