This past week I participated in an interesting discussion on the Sisters in Crime Guppies Yahoo group. The thread coincidentally began while I was preparing to lead the next Yoga Sutra discussion for Whole Life Yoga’s advanced yoga teacher training.
For those of you who don’t know, Sisters in Crime is an organization that supports crime writers, like yours truly. “Guppies” stands for the “great unpublished,” of which I’m gratefully no longer a member. Many of us continue to hang out together even after we’re published because, frankly, we’re heck of a lot of fun.
This particular discussion centered around current backlogs of DNA evidence and how such backlogs might be incorporated into our future crime novels.
The confluence of these two conversations got me thinking, and when I get thinking I inevitably get myself into trouble. This time, I considered this age old question:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Many spiritual teachings, including the Yoga Sutras, have an answer.
For their own growth.
Many of you know, either from the Guppy thread or from past conversations, that I survived something almost two decades ago that was, to put it mildly, painful. Some of you know the specifics, some of you don’t. Honestly, they don’t even matter. There isn’t a person alive over eighteen who hasn’t known trauma in one form or another. At least no one I’ve met.
The question is, when we experience said trauma, how do we deal with it?
The Sutras say that we have no true control over what happens to us or around us. The only thing we can control is how we react to it. An easy enough concept, if sometimes seemingly impossible to put into action. But the teachings go on later in Chapter 2 to hint that anything that happens to us has a purpose. The bold font and words in brackets have been added by me
“The seeable [our experiences, good and bad] has the characteristics of brightness, activity, and inertia. It is embodied in the elements and experienced by the senses. It exists so that the seer [you and me] may experience it and then become free.
About a year after my personal trauma, I met with a counselor. I told her that I knew there was a purpose for what had happened to me, but I hadn’t found it yet.
She looked at me, deadpan, and asked a question.
“What if there isn’t?”
My answer came from a place so deep inside of me that, until that moment, I didn’t even know it existed.
“Then I’ll have to create one. The alternative is too awful.”
That was the day I began to heal.
Who knows why bad things happen to good people? I sure as hell don’t. But can we find growth, perhaps even peace, in spite of it? The sutras say yes. I’m inclined to agree with them. I wouldn’t trade my life for any other on earth, in spite of the traumas (and like all of you, I’ve had more than one) I’ve experienced along the way.
I’ll leave you all with one final comment, also from the Sutras. This is for those of you who are now feeling cranky with me. The translation is my own.
“Individual results may vary.”
May your life’s experiences—good, bad, beautiful, and challenging—serve as a springboard for your growth.
And ultimately, may you find peace.