Learning to complain

I’m learning to complain, and it’s wonderful!

Growing up, I was taught that complaining was pointless, immoral, unvirtuous, and ineffective.

So whenever I dealt with government departments, bureaucracy, or businesses my attitude was to follow their advice or their systems and hope that things would work out.

Today I rang a government department to complain, and it only took two months and some clues from the universe to get me to that point.

Beat your breast

It turns out that complain literally means to beat your breast, which in turn is to openly display your sorrow, disappointment or other strong feeling.

It took me two months to really comprehend that I wasn’t at fault, that the system had failed and my family had been unfairly disadvantaged.

I didn’t need to have a solution, and I didn’t have to trust the system. My trust is in God, not in systems.

So I found a way to feel good in my complaint. I rang with the intention of sharing my story, of the incorrect information we had received and the efforts we had gone to on our end.

And the people I spoke to were wonderful. They fixed the problem within minutes and everything is now reinstated, back as it was two months ago.

Except that I’ve grown and changed and learned so much through this process. It’s helped me focus on money and really appreciate all that I have. It’s helped me let go of resistance to having, receiving, and spending money.

It’s helped me trust so much more, and it’s shown me that God hears our complaints as much as our prayers.

Expecting better

For me now a complaint is the opposite of holding in or hiding my disappointment or sorrow. A complaint means openly expressing my dissatisfaction, and it by no means negates trusting, feeling good, or focusing on the positive while I do it.

A complaint is a genuine and authentic expression of something unwanted. I don’t expect to do it often, but I won’t resist it anymore when it feels like the path of least resistance.

You might even say that complaint is part of an entreaty. Like the psalms, it specifies what is wrong and demands, or requests better with an air of expectation.

Complaint is like an empowered and purposeful expression of dissatisfaction. It presumes worthiness, faith, and trust that things are supposed to be better. And it looks forward with expectation to having everything made right, made new, and reinstated.

I remember

I remember my desire
Born out of suffering and misery
To awaken another world within me.

I remember being inspired
By poets and mystics
Who promised infinite treasures
If I could follow their meaning.

I remember wanting
To see God in every damned thing
Around me
And within me.

I remember trying
A hundred different ways
Meditation, prayer,
Knowledge and devotion
Desperate and shaking
Blaming myself, giving up
Endlessly addicted.
Dark night or just deluded
Depressed or half-enlightened
Realisation or rumination

And I remember the promise
In the joy of its fulfilment
The revelation and remembering
That all of my efforts
Weren’t wasted, unsuccessful
But they kept me on the path
Long enough for me to shed them
Like the lotus in the mud
To take the joy without the sorrow
And the love without the heartache
And knowing without doubt or confusion

Distilling the search for God

Roughly 20 years of searching for answers I can distill to a simple report:

God/the divine/the transcendent dwells in our innermost being.

But our individual self can choose to focus on it, or not.

It is the summum bonum, the creator, the beginning and the end, self-existent being itself; and it is also love and joy to us.

We focus outwardly on the world, hoping to achieve and procure love and joy – happiness – for ourselves through various actions and ends.

But since the source of all things dwells already in us, looking out to “things” while neglecting the source is why we experience repeated suffering and confusion.

My mistakes

Turning inward and despising the outer world is a mistake. God doesn’t despise the world, so how can you turn towards God while hating his creation?

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

But this doesn’t mean pretending that evil is good.

The plumbing in our home is a bit funny. You can turn on the hot tap and it will run warm, then go cold, before becoming truly hot.

If you turn off the tap because it gets cold, you’ll never allow the really hot water to flow.

In fact you want to open the tap as much as possible, and just let the cold water go, all the sooner to enjoy the heat again.

The key is trusting and knowing that the heat will come, even if it has to first push out a whole lot of cold water sitting in the pipes.

Faith, Hope, and Love

The God who dwells in your innermost being is the creator of all that is. There is nothing higher, greater, more powerful, or more eternal than that.

Yet we experience a multiplicity of things “the world” that seem to exist on their own and obey their own rules.

If God is love, why do we suffer?

We suffer because we turn away from God in our innermost being, and try to share our attention with other ‘gods’ or idols, or simply fears and doubts.

That is why faith, hope, and love are so important, because they are how we translate God in our innermost being into the outer world of our experience.

Faith, hope, and love are what it feels like when there is no resistance in us to the divine flowing out from our innermost being into the world.

While these three have layers of meaning, in a personal spiritual context faith is the knowledge, trust or certainty that God in our innermost being is in complete and perfect control of all that is, and that only our resistance colours the perfect creation God wills for us.

Hope is desire and expectation. It is the belief – despite how the world might appear – that our desires will be fulfilled, that the love, joy and happiness we seek are being met.

Love is considered the greatest of these three because love is the nature of God. Both the nature of the divine, and His disposition toward creation, and hence when we adopt an attitude of love toward creation we are embracing God’s own attitude. We are united with God’s will.

Love is God Himself, while faith and hope are antidotes to the doubts and fears that we have created in our world. Love without faith and hope would be difficult to muster.

For me, faith and hope mean that nothing is impossible, and the fulfillment of Love can expand out into my experience, my reality.

It helps to know also that there are already people for whom this is reality. I may not have met them yet, but I know that they exist.

The path forward

Magnify the divine in my innermost being. Turn towards it continually, and cease focusing on anything that detracts from it, knowing that such detractions exist only in my own divided focus.

There is no other power, no other path, no other goal than the God in my innermost being. There is nothing and no one else to turn to. And everything else I might turn to, I do so only in search of the love and joy that is already there within me.

It is the pearl of great price, the treasure in the field, the kingdom for which all else is given up, and through which all else is gained.