Life Supports Us
An excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
Generally speaking, 99% of the time life is benign and supportive. The ego leads us to fixate on the 1% when it is painful, dark, or tragic—although even in these times, it is usually only painful and tragic to us. (Our tragedy might be someone else's good luck.) Although the mind imagines "worst-case scenarios"—like car crashes—most of our lives are not composed of these kinds of events. If we look at our lives more objectively, we see that reality is actually highly supportive of us—a miracle if we could see it for what it is. The universe is much more generous than most of us have ever recognized or acknowledged, and in the face of this overwhelming abundance, it simply makes sense to awaken and open ourselves to this generosity.
The world's great religions all teach that we are not alone and that we are supported in invisible ways and to a depth that we cannot imagine. In much of the Christian tradition, there is belief in the "communion of saints," a teaching that sees the entire community of Heaven constantly interceding on behalf of those still on Earth. Hindus see the manifestations of God everywhere, in trees and lakes and mountains—as well as in storms and volcanoes—just as Buddhists see the infinite forms of Buddha-nature. The statues of Christian saints and innumerable boddhisattvas are reminders of this profound spiritual truth: that we are not alone, and that we are supported on our path in an infinite variety of ways.
One of the most famous temples in Japan is the Sanjusangen-do (The Hall of Thirty-Three Bays), dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of Divine Compassion. What gives this temple its unique impact are the 1,001 gilded statues of Kannon arranged ten rows deep, stretching the length of two football fields inside the temple. It is a quietly overwhelming place, loaded with exquisite delicacy and force, reminding the visitor that the Absolute, God, continuously sends forth countless helpers and wave upon wave of grace to each human being, as well as constant blessings from the limitless depths of Divine compassion. The visitor is overwhelmed by this golden throng of the bearers of grace and goodwill from the world just outside of our ordinary perceptions.
We become aware of this benevolence slowly but inexorably: when we open ourselves to the present moment, everything becomes our teacher because everything in life supports our presence and our growth. The Enneagram shows us how we say "no" to life, how we turn away from the riches around us all the time. As the 1,001 statues of Kannon remind us, however, what we truly want and are always looking for outside of ourselves is always available here and now.
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