important-encountersDear Ones –

Do you believe in this idea?

Do you believe in it completely?

This notion that we don’t meet anyone by accident — that our souls mutually decided long ago to encounter each other in just this moment, in just this manner — is so easy to believe when you are falling in love, or when you think about your best friend, or when you see how a beloved family member has shaped your life in a deeply positive manner.

But can you also believe this notion about the most negative encounters you have with people? Can you believe it about even the most painful and broken and destructive relationships you’ve ever experienced? Can you believe that your encounter with that person was a contract that your two souls had decided upon, long ago, for vital reasons of spiritual growth and evolution?

Can you see why your soul might have chosen to meet that person — or even to be born into that situation — because there was something to be learned through them, that nothing else on earth could teach you?

(I always think of Mark Twain’s line that “a man who tries to carry a cat by the tail learns a lesson that he cannot learn any other way.” Haven’t you met people like that in your life? Haven’t you met people who were the equivalent of a cat carried by the tail — people who scratched and bit and howled, and who taught you lessons that you could not have learned any other way? Even terribly painful lessons?)

This is not to say that we should celebrate pain, or seek out suffering, or that we should STAY in relationships with destructive people. (Sometimes the vital lesson might be, at last: LEAVE. SAVE YOURSELF FOR ONCE.) It is only to say — what happens when you ask yourself, “Why might I have chosen this painful path? What does this relationship have to teach me? How could this experience help me evolve to a higher level of being?”

Years ago, I saw an interview on TV with a Tibetan monk who had been imprisoned for years, and who had been tortured savagely by one particularly sadistic Chinese guard. The monk spoke of universal forgiveness and grace. He spoke of his compassion for the guard, who had behaved in the only way he knew how to behave — out of fear, perhaps, or ignorance, or even as a reaction to his own violent past.

The interviewer, bewildered, asked, “How can you not hate that prison guard who tortured you?”

The monk smiled beautifully, held up his twisted and bent hands (hands that had been broken so many times) and said, “How can I not love anyone who has been such an integral part of my own destiny?”

That is a HIGH TEACHING right there, Dear Ones — far beyond anything I can imagine grasping in my own lifetime. I have certainly never been tested like that, I pray I never will be tested like that. But that monk’s face did not lie: He was onto something.

Have you maybe glimpsed this in your own life’s path at times?

Not only when you encountered goodness, but also when you encountered suffering?

Do you sometimes sense a plan behind it all — and do you sometimes sense that you yourself may have had a role in crafting that plan, long ago, in a timeless place, for reasons that are still unfolding?

Sometimes I feel like I get it.

Curious to hear your thoughts…



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