Thirty or so years ago, I remember seeing a movie called “The Runner Stumbles.” The entire storyline hasn’t stayed with me, but the title has always remained in my mind. What causes us to stumble in the marathon of life? Is it the natural obstacles that we all encounter? Or could it possibly be that others sometimes wish for our failure, for us to stumble in the pursuit of our goals?
What is it we wish for most in life? Most of us wish for financial security, good health, loving relatives, a fulfilling job, a loving spouse, happy children. Some of us wish for peace of mind, spiritual development, world peace and understanding. Occasionally, we wish for the failure of others, for the failure of their relationships or of their performance in their jobs. Their failure, we reason, will enable us to possess what they have failed to hold. We also reason that we personally have done nothing to hurt them. But we have also done nothing to help them in standing passively by and holding our negative thoughts.
Almost all organized religions in the world have what is called the “Ethic of Reciprocity.” For Christians, the equivalent to this is known as the Golden Rule. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said “All things whatsoever you would that men should do until you, do you even so unto them.” The Talmud and the Qu’ran have equivalents of “Do unto others as thou wouldst they should do unto you.” In the Bah’ai faith, there is stated “Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee. . .” In Hinduism, “This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Wishing for the failure of a marriage or career is not something we would like to have turned on us.
I endeavor to conduct readings with callers without feelings of judgment or criticism. I am sure that at times I fail, but nonetheless, I believe that all of us deserve to have our feelings respected. Lately, I have seen that there are some who believe that if, for example, Sue fails in her relationship (marriage, love affair) with Bob, that they could then fulfill their desire for a relationship with Bob. Therefore, it makes sense to wish for Sue to fail, to wait for however long it takes for her to fail, so that they can have Bob for themselves. Then, they can tell themselves, they will be happy with Bob and did nothing to harm Sue, after all. All they did was wait and wish for her to fail.
Sometimes callers want to know if I see another person failing in the job that they covet, and if so, how soon. They say that the person’s failure is not their responsibility. They have done nothing to harm them, but will be ready to fill the job when it becomes open.
But the problem is, they have done nothing to help them, either. In Buddhism, followers believe that we should love everything because it is ourselves. Everything is connected-nothing is independent. Everything we do affects the universe. The ripples from one rock falling into the water spread outward, affecting things that we will never even see, in ways that we cannot imagine.
We resist seeing that we can have happiness for ourselves without waiting and wishing for others to fail, without throwing out the negative rock into the water of the universe. We can find a Bob for ourselves, one who is ready to enter into a happy relationship with us that is not based on the failure we wished for another. We can find a job that we will be very happy with, without wishing for another to lose. But we must take our eyes off of the things others possess and wish them success in honest endeavors, and simply strive for success in our own endeavors. Sometimes the runner stumbles, but we should not let ourselves be the cause.
What are your favorite methods for staying positive?