The Resolution of Grief
By William Arkle
Published in The Great Gift - 1977
A very deep form of grief is grieving over our own intuitive knowledge of our own value which we have not paid proper attention to, and we have not properly learned to use in the world for our own sake, or for the sake of others.
It's as though the grief is about a beautiful treasure that was within our reach all the time and yet we didn't stretch out and use this treasure and enjoy it in the way it should be used and enjoyed.
The grief we feel of this very deep sort is often a grieving over the fact that we had within our reach another whole way of life, of this deep interior sort, which is the life which belongs to our divine beingness, and we hadn't used it, and we hadn't made it a part of our expressive existence with other people.
Now this sort of thing is obviously more apparent to us when our life is held up to us for examination, which happens when we've lost somebody like a husband or a wife - someone we've been living very close to and made a very big part of our life. If for any reason they are taken away from us, then we are left to face up to ourselves. In doing that, I think we may be left to face up to this realisation that so much of our life has been wasted on secondary things when it could have been used in a far more valuable way on primary things.
The primary things I am meaning are the primary things which belong to the level of our deep innermost being; the level in us which recognises and knows about the beautiful and the valuable - the morally high-tone qualities, the loveliness of life, the loveliness in people, the beauty of the character in people. It knows about meaning and purpose, but it also knows, unfortunately, that it can take a path in life which allows for a substitute personality, with substitute activities, to take the place of its primary self with its primary activities.
When we are talking about grief, we are not talking about somebody else in us grieving over our own reality, what we are talking about is our own reality grieving about its own self. In other words, when you are in a state of deep grief, you are the one who you are grieving about. It is only the one who knows about the loss that is able to grieve and only the real you is able to produce symptoms of deep and real grief because only you, the Divine you, knows sufficiently about what it has been out of touch with to be able to grieve that deeply.
It is a situation which, if you like, can be partly ugly and partly beautiful. It can be a self-resolving situation if you allow yourself to penetrate into the depths of true grief and don't stop at a halfway level, but you go all the way right into deep grief. If you go into deep grief you will start to get the feedback, the answer to true grief, because you will start to be with the self that you are grieving over. And if you start to be with that self you will start to be comforted by the nearness you have to your own reality all the time, which nearness you have forgotten about.
If you are in touch with your own reality and your own understanding, even if it is in a mood of grief; if you are in touch with that level of understanding, you will also be in touch with the level of your Divine Creator. I call the Divine Creator our Divine 'Father and Mother', from whom our being emanated; and through whose love for us, and through whose anticipation for our friendship, our existence is in the condition that we know it now.
Perhaps I should enlarge on what I mean by that. I mean that, from what I understand, the motivation for the whole of creation is that out of it should come a number of individuals who have chosen their own unique path to individuality and therefore become true unique individuals. The Creator longed for many of these true individuals to choose to realise 'Himself' and 'Herself' as a father and mother and as a friend; should choose to relate to this Creator as a friend, not so much as a God, but more as a friend. The more we grow in our understanding of our own reality and 'the gift', and the attitude behind the gift, from the Creator's position, the more we shall become able to take up this position of divine friendship with our Creator as well as with one another.
We shall be able to take up this position of divine friendship because, in our desire to read the heart of the Creator, we shall become more and more certain that it is the deepest thing that the Creator longs for. And with any friend this is the only motive we have - it is to read the deepest level of their Being and help to fulfil for them the deepest longings in their Being.
This is what friends long to do for one another. It is a very creative activity, and out of it comes an endless series of creative attitudes and creative activities. The one friend says to the other friend, 'From whoever I am, I have a great gladness about you, whoever you are.' And then the other says to the first one, 'From whoever I am, I am glad about you, whoever you are'. This gladness between both of them, and the lack of need to define the reality in either of them, creates a beautiful area of potentiality and creativity between them, from which flows an endless series of possibilities and of new actions and new responses, new life expressions.
And this is what life is, full-of-lifeness, full of potential and full of newness, it never wishes to repeat a thing that it has achieved once.
It has such an ability to create and be creative, that it will always wish to do something in a new way, and it will always wish to live in a new, ongoing form of happening condition. Because we, in our human situation, feel we have such a paucity, such a lack of creativity, such a lack of ability, and are weighed down with our shortcomings, we find it hard to grasp that, behind all that, there is a reality in us and a reality in our Divine Creator which has the opposite attitude.
This is so aware of its ability and its potentiality and its creativity, that it wouldn't dream of using anything else but these faculties in itself. It loses all desire to repeat activities and it would never wish to do anything else but draw something new out of its vortex of potentiality continually, forever and forever.
Now this is the sort of reality which, I think, the Creator has designed his university around. He's built a universe, which is a university, and He has sown us as seeds into this university, seeds full of potentiality.
But we have to start to actualise the potentiality. And in fact, to my understanding, we've already done that for many millions of years. We have lived many thousands of lives in relating to all sorts of levels of creation already, before we've got to the level of being a human being. And I think we have probably lived many, many lives as human beings as well, and some of us have gathered more from those lives than others. Some of us have matured more fully than others. But there is no hurry, for speed is no measurement of our value. I think that we learn to become 'who we are' and learn to under- stand the value of 'who we are' and learn to understand the meaning of all values, by taking part in this university; not by 'being' a worm, or a beetle or a flower or a stalk of corn or stalk of barley, or a piece of rock, but by 'living with' the life of that rock, living with the life of that beetle, living with the life of that fish, living with the life of that dog, of that cat, living with the life of that flower, of that corn, of that barley.
We 'live with' these life forms, we don't 'become' those life forms.
We are divine sparks, divine elements of reality. These life forms are living their own life and the Creator allows us to live with them, and that is His teaching method. We occupy the same house of form that the beetle is using; so we get in there alongside the beingness of that beetle. We are not the beetle, but we feel we are the beetle. Then we do the same thing with a flower, then we do the same thing with a wild animal, then we do the same thing with a domestic animal, which is a more evolved form of animal until we become a human being. Then we do the same thing with the life form of a physical body; we are not that physical body, but we live and inhabit the same form that the life of the physical body inhabits and we have to learn to overcome, at one stage in our development, the physical reality of that physical form; which is its personality, if you like, its personal attitudes, and impose on that life form the attitudes of our own true beingness.
But we can only do that when we have reached a stage in our progress which enables us to understand that we are something other than the physical personality, that we are a soul, a spiritual reality, a divine reality. This is a definite step in our development, in our schooling, and we've met people in our life who give us the feeling that this is the level they have achieved, and we've met many other people who give us the feeling that they haven't yet achieved this level of separation.
They haven't started to understand that they are something other than their physical beingness. They are learning a great deal by being a physical personality, but they still have to learn to take the step of understanding that they are a divine soul inhabiting a physical body. They have a personality which has been built up by the conjunction of the divine self with that physical life body form, and that is what we call the persona, the outer self, the ordinary ego.
Behind the ordinary ego, or within the ordinary ego, is the divine ego. So there's nothing wrong with being egotistic in the proper sense of the word. There is something wrong with being egotistic in a narrow sense of egotism, in which everything is built up around the importance of its own self centre. But as this egotism grows, as it should do in a healthy being, it naturally grows into its bigger self, and the bigger self naturally grows into the little self, and the two integrate.
This is what psychologists describe as integration. It is the integration of the true self with the personality self of the physical body situation, and the two learn to live together and integrate completely. Then the personality becomes a wonderful instrument through which the divine self can experience, and learn, and interpret its learning, and communicate with other beings through physical forms, and through physical means of expression. In doing that, it learns a great deal, and helps others to learn a great deal, and it builds and builds and learns to express the divine potentialities that we've been talking about - the divine friendships and the endless possibilities which emanate from its true nature.
So there is nothing wrong with being an ego, which is another word for 'I' and 'Iness'. You never lose the sense of 'Iness'. You might lose the sense of knowing who your 'I' is, who you are, because the narrow sense of the personality ego - the smaller ego - often gets a very complete but restricted image of who it is, and it spends the rest of its life conforming to that image of who it is.
But the divine ego, the spiritual ego, the true self, is able to be itself and, at the same time, know that it is in a state of becoming. It isn't very concerned to circumscribe itself, to give itself a definite image, because it knows that if it does, that it's going to limit its ability to respond in an ever new way to new possibilities.
So what happens in life, is that we gradually learn to integrate the smaller sense of ego with the deeper and greater sense of ego; and, without losing a sense of 'I', the 'I' begins to become equally concerned with the well-being of others as it is with its own well-being; equally concerned with the happiness and the beauty and the possibility of the others in creation, its brothers and sisters, as it is concerned with its own reality.
So what happens, in a successful life, is that the ego broadens out and gets bigger in a proper loving, caring way; not bigger in a grasping way, which is centred on its own small and selfishly oriented appetites; more a growing, which is able to grasp the meaningfulness, and the value to itself, of the fulfilment of all other forms of life, and all other beings, and all its other brothers and sisters. Then the ego just grows and grows to include the well-being of all other egos.
But there's nothing wrong in the sense of ego awareness. What we call egotism, on the whole, reflects an unhealthy attitude in which everything is drawn into the small-self for a small-self satisfaction, small-self fulfilment of the wrong order, not large-self fulfilment for the higher order. The small-self fulfilment is a lower order appetite such as appearing to be important in the eyes of other people, appearing to be clever, appearing to be valuable in some way which is superior to other people, trying to be 'one up' on other people and so forth.
Well, all this has taken us a long way from the original idea of grief, but we come back again to grief with the understanding that there is all this to grieve about. We begin to sense that we have the capability to live with a higher understanding of who we are but we haven't used that capability. We may have allowed it to become foreign to our nature and then suddenly something reminds us that we have this understanding and this capability, then that situation is one which causes the deep grief which we have been talking about. For the soul of our nature, our divine nature, recognises the sort of thing which we have been talking about and recognises the fact that it has let itself down; it had drifted away from its true significance, from its true value and from its true meaning.
So, in a way, we should feel optimistic when we feel true grief because it is a sure sign that we are returning to the proper level of our being. It may be with a regret for what we have been doing with our life, but, at the same time, it is better to return with grief to the reality that we should be living with than be unaware of the fact that we are living a gay and superficially happy life which is, in fact, almost foreign and quite unimportant to the nature of the true self that we are.
We can understand that this is proper ground for feeling deep grief and deep sadness and deep disappointment and, of course, from that sort of grief we can develop overtones of anger with ourselves, impatience with ourselves. I suppose we can develop anger and impatience with the Creator and the way He has designed His system of teaching. We might feel angry that He hasn't stepped in and done more to remind us of what we would have liked to have been doing.
But on the other hand, we discover, the more we look at it, that the Creator's teaching method is to allow us to make mistakes and to allow us to get ourselves out of our mistakes. The deeper the mistake we make and the more we have to struggle to get out of that mistake, the more we are going to learn about the nature of our being.
It doesn't mean to say, necessarily, that we are going to be able to live a very saintly or holy or righteous life in the ordinary meaning of those terms, but, if we look at the purpose of the Creator, those terms surely do not describe the Creator's aim for our growth.
He doesn't want holy and righteous and over-good beings to share his life with him. He wants these qualities in their proper proportion but only as secondary natures to the Divine nature itself, which is loving and caring and ongoing and friendly and creative.
That is the thing which you and I care about in our friends and you and I care about in our children. We don't want them to be over good, over cautious, over holy; over avoiding making mistakes, in a hurry to earn some recognition of being a very good and saintly character. This would go against the sort of quality which we would look for in our children. These may be spin-offs from a proper development of our own children but they wouldn't be the primary objects we would look for in our children. The primary ones would be affectionate, wholehearted friendship.
You see that friendship to us, and I'm sure also to our Creator, is more important than our ability to avoid making mistakes. As soon as we make a mistake we become, so to speak, unholy, unsaintly, unrighteous and not good. But in correcting those mistakes we gain understanding, and when we have truly gained a lot of understanding we become wise, and when we become wise we realise that wisdom is far greater than holiness or goodness or righteousness as we understand those things. For wisdom is the highest expression of love in action and from it such qualities as holiness, and righteousness and goodness are spin-offs. They are not the primary objective of wisdom.
The primary objective of wisdom is to be itself - wisely to he its loving creative nature. Wisely, that means to the best advantage of all its friends and all the situations that it is aware of.
If we take a narrow view of the Creator's purpose for us, it might be the attainment of the ability to stay in a heavenly world that He created for us somewhere. To do that, the sooner we become holy and good and free of any sort of mistake the better.
But if we do that, then we are surely going to limit our ability to learn; to learn to understand who we are, to learn to understand all the qualities that are available for us to understand, because we will limit the mistakes that we are going to make and, therefore, we will limit the understanding that comes to us through the correcting of those mistakes.
I feel that it is possible to say that, if the Creator had simply wanted us to become beautiful, righteous children who did nothing but be good, as it were, and delight in the Divine quality of loving, blissful, beautiful serenity, then He would have arranged for us to be born directly into heaven where we would have been with all these qualities.
But if that had happened, then we would have lacked the understanding we are gaining through living through all those beautiful, heavenly qualities and their opposite, such as ugliness and unkindness and hatred and confusion, and pain and sorrow and grief and loneliness.
Now, through the understanding of these, negative qualities, we come to know what positive qualities really are; but if we had only known the positive qualities, we wouldn't truly have known what they were. We would have been with them but we would have had nothing to compare them with. And it is only through the art of comparison that we come to an under- standing of the qualities that we handle and are capable of handling.
We cannot become the friends, that the Creator wishes us to become to one another and to Himself, if we have not got the ability to understand the nature of the qualities that are available to our being. It's no good if we simply live as heavenly beings in heaven because we would have little companionship with one another, or for the Creator, in a creative sense.
We would have no ability to discuss the merits of the qualities that we know about. But if we have lived through them, as we do on earth; and their opposites, as we do on earth, then we would develop an ability to understand, objectively, the significance of beauty, of truth, of honesty, of things like kindness and care.
How would we know about loving kindness or loving care in a place like heaven? There would be no need for kindness or for caring as we know it, everything would have been taken care of. There would be nothing to be kind about. We would be with the quality of love, but we wouldn't be able to express it in the form of care, and we wouldn't know very much about the sort of qualities that come out of the experience of great friendship.
And these are the things that I think the Creator longs to give to us and wants to share with us in His nature.
So, in a way, we might say that grief is a sort of grieving for the Divine in us, it's a sort of grieving for our own reality which we have a sense of. It is also a grieving for our Divine parents, and it's possible, I think, to imagine that our Divine parents also grieve for us; particularly if we have established some sort of friendship for them at some time and then we may have gone back on it again.
I also feel that the Creator's friendship for us and our friendship for the Creator must be as real and as chosen as our own friend- ships that we know about on earth. I don't think the Creator would force his personal friendship on us as a condition of our eternal life.
I think it is possible for us to become one with the Creator's being in a far more impersonal way without noticing Him/Her as a person; without taking up this personal love of a divine friendship, which is offered to us by the Creator and longed for, on our behalf, by the Creator. And I think the Creator often grieves at the fact that, out of the number of his children who develop the understanding of their divine nature, only a proportion develop the ability to realise that the Creator wishes, above all, to form a true and distinct friendship with each of us in this personal form of reality.
It may be true to say that we can only develop the strength and the understanding, to understand and appreciate such a friendship, if we have been through a hard school, such as the school of earth provides. And it's possible to imagine that, if we hadn't come to a school like the earth level of schooling, where mistakes happen often, and where we continually have to correct them, and we have to learn the understanding and the strength to correct them with, then, perhaps, we would not develop the strength or the understanding to take up the Divine friendship which is offered to us in its fullness, because we wouldn't have had the experience to appreciate what it signified, and what it meant. We might take up a relationship with the Creator of loving affection and a sort of worshipfulness, an adoration of His beautiful nature which we can sense, but we wouldn't have the understanding of the friendship nature of the Creator unless we had been through a lot with Him and He had been through a lot with us.
This is exactly what happens in a situation like earth. And I don't think the Creator would have forced us into this sort of situation which we've got into on earth. I think it is due to a series of rebellious activities. I think the Creator would have known that such activities would lead to pain and suffering on a very large scale so He wouldn't have forced them on us.
Yet, paradoxically, I think the Creator realises that when this situation came about, and we developed these unhappy, unpleasant and painful experiences, that they could be turned to very good ends and could increase the amount of the gift of divine understanding and divine strength that He is trying to give us, and in so doing, increase the amount of friendship and the amount of reality we could carry.
So, I think, out of the suffering of the earth is going to come a wonderful good, which many of us can't begin to imagine. Out of it is going to come a wonderful good which our Divine parents are perhaps longing for more than anything else, which is a conscious and deliberate taking-up of the friendship which they offer, and the affection which they offer.
We can only do that when we have sufficient understanding, sufficient maturity of being and sufficient strength of being, to sustain such a relationship, to carry the confidence and the trust and the love that such a relationship entails.
Another aspect of grief would be the sort of grief we might feel if we know that our life is coming to a close; if we are faced with death; the grief about the loss of life, loss of reality and the loss of the dear ones around us.
But, here again, if we really allow our feelings to go deeply into that grief, we realise that it brings the same harvest to us as the grief we were talking about earlier on. If we go all the way with that grief we get into a beautiful form of grief in which we realise we are at one with the being who values these things that we are grieving over; who values with us the beauty of the life we feel we are about to lose, the beauty of the people whom we are going to lose touch with, and this brings us to an understanding of reality which we have been looking for all our lives, to 'be with' in order to live the self that we have an intuitive, instinctive feeling about.
When we say we are grieving over the fact that we are about to part company with the world, and with our family and our friends, and our dear ones, the grieving is over the loss of love. If we get all the way into that grief we will realise that we are with the one who knows how to love. The grief and the knowing of how to value what we grieve over, we find, are in the same area of our being.
And this will bring us to a knowledge that we are truly with our Divine self and the grief becomes beautiful grief. There's no need to think that we have to lose that grief, all we do is transform it into a positive beautiful thing, because in this experience the loss makes the heart grow fonder, the anticipation of loss brings us closer to the lovingness of our own nature, and the lovingness of our own nature brings us close to our whole reality and the reality of our Divine parents, our Creator.
This grief can come as a wonderful gift to us if we accept it with the whole of our nature and are not afraid of it. If we take it upon ourselves, we will find that the grief is very close to the love that we've always wished to give full expression to. The grief itself is only an indication to us of the ability to love that we have in our nature, and this is exactly the confirmation of our own nature and of our own reality that we have always been seeking.
So any great pain of that sort, any great suffering of that sort, has behind it a compensation which is an exact measure of the pain, and which exactly meets our needs.
We can feel, that in grief in general, we are not simply grieving for ourselves and grieving for our own reality and grieving for our Creator, we can also feel that the Creator is truly grieving for us and our own reality is grieving for us and the two forms of grieving are bringing us to ourselves.
If we go the whole way with it and don't defend ourselves from this grief and from this suffering, we will be drawn into our true self. And if we are drawn into our true self, we will be drawn very close to the quality which is in the nature of our Divine parents - our Divine Mother and Father, Creator. Like all things in life and like all the values that we are being given, the greatest events and the greatest values come through great joy and great suffering In the end we come to be wise and to realise that the fruit that we gather and the treasure that we gather is equally valuable from joy and from suffering.
We would feel as upset if someone tried to take away our suffering as we would if someone tried to take away our joy, and this takes us into the nature which we are, which is not only loving and very real but also has this instinctive understanding in it, which we call wisdom.