We may tend to think of pain as one giant bucket of far-less-than-favorable feelings. But in fact, there are many varieties of pain. In this teaching, we’re going to drill down into the particular pain we feel when we experience injustice.
When we experience the pain of injustice, there is more going on than feeling wounded and hurt. For this type of pain has rolled into it the fear that we live in a world without safety valves. It’s a sense of no rhyme and even less reason to anything, and that nothing we will do will move the meter.
This fear—and the resulting pain—is loaded with a truckload of doubt: we lack faith in a meaningful universe where things like intelligence and love and justice prevail. And yet these things are true; they do exist. Know what else is true? Everything single thing we do—including our thoughts, feelings and attitudes—has consequences. What causes us pain is the fact that we don’t yet realize this. But once we make this connection, then our faith will be reestablished. Until then, we’ll suffer with the pain of doubt, which cascades directly into a pain of injustice.
We like to think of ourselves as being oh-so-very broadminded. But in truth, our field of vision is often too narrow for us to see how everything connects. Quite simply, not all of the cause-and-effect dots are visible to us, in this one lifetime; there are gaps in our perspective. Further, we often fail to make the connection that what’s happening on the larger scale—in the world in which we live—is also happening in the microcosm of our own personal selves. Our response to injustice—to meaninglessness—is one place to consider this phenomenon.
When we embark on a spiritual path, turning over the stones of our inner hidden beliefs and defenses to uncover the untruths they hold, we typically run into a ton of inner resistance. This is our Lower Self not wanting to expose and overcome itself. And then just under this resistance to facing ourselves is this pain that we live in an unjust, meaningless and chaotic place.
Our pain of injustice—of believing in a senseless world—puts a negative spin on things, propagating our joy-killing Lower Self behaviors. And on the flip side, our guilt for our negative and pessimistic attitude makes us feel undeserving of the good life, replete with total justice.
This leads to a perplexing phenomenon: once we clear our resistance to facing our Lower Self traits, working through their consequences and painful effects, we experience profound relief. It’s like a weight lifts off our shoulders; the puzzle pieces fit and fall into place. What’s happening here?
It’s because in that moment, we have a personal experience that life is, in fact, fair. It’s totally just. And our perception of things can be corrected; our impaired vision can be restored. On the other hand, a universe in which evil can win—well, that can’t be corrected, and that’s a thoroughly dismal prospect.
Understanding all this does us little good if there’s not a way out. So let’s look at how to unwind the pain of justice, which undoubtedly is one of the most unbearable pains felt in a human soul. We need to go back to considering this point that whatever exists in the macrocosm—the world at large—also exists in the microcosm—our own self. So the first place to look at creating a shift is in our own psyche.
No other way around it, we’ve got to do our own work. Otherwise we’ll spend our lives tilting at windmills outside ourselves, and never see that the distortion of truth must live within us. For if it did not, the outer chaos of the world wouldn’t light a fire deep in our bellies.
So on a spiritual path such as the one outlined in these teachings, we need to peer into all the hidden crevices of our soul; this is the route that brings true security. It wipes out the pain of injustice by establishing connections between cause and effect inside ourselves. Because we can’t believe in a fair and just universe if we can’t plainly see how all our actions—including thoughts and intentions, feelings and attitudes—result in definite effects. Then we’ll shift from seeing the world as a random land of arbitrary events, to spotting how our trivial-seeming daily occurrences roll up into life’s larger processes.
The war we’re really fighting is within, with our dual nature of Higher and Lower Selves at odds. Our Lower Self is all about justifying and rationalizing and projecting and blaming—all of which keeps our negativity snowballing. But any time we get away with acting out our Lower Self, our shallow, momentary triumph will only serve to cover over our deeper despair about living in a meaningless world.
We’ll even fight those who are trying to help us uncover our hidden wrong thinking and evasive strategies, convincing everyone in our path that our cover-ups are valid. But when our spiritual helper, therapist or counselor gets buffaloed by our maneuvers, our Higher Self becomes very unhappy.
Oddly, when they fail to unmask the real cause and effect—revealing the connection of how the world is responding like-with-like to our own negativity—we start to resent them. Because no matter how much we rail against seeing these connections—how our negative intention links perfectly with our undesirable experiences—we feel let down. We want someone to ally with our Higher Self and help us find our way out of the dark.
We want to trust that the universe is fair. And we want to trust those who help us to see these unpleasant connections. But if we can deceive our helpers and “win” by way of our sneaky, destructive ways, we are going to conclude that, dang, maybe this is an untrustworthy place. Once again, we’re back to that incredibly unbearable pain of injustice.
As long as we’re living in these bodily shells made out of matter, we are not going to be able to make all the connections; many will flat out remain invisible to us, even though we may intuitively pick up on some of the links, some of the time. To understand then that connections we can’t see really do exist, we’re going to need to have faith.
But true faith is, at least to some degree, experiential. We come to faith by increasingly uncovering the links that are buried inside ourselves. This expanding movement toward wholeness calms our fear about feeling the pain of injustice; it heals the wounds caused by our own fear.
Think about how it feels to witness some cruel event in which the perpetrators seem to get away with it. Or maybe when a good deed—such as genuine love and giving—are met with some undeserved blowback, or fail in some way to produce just rewards. From time to time, we’ll be able to ferret out deeper connections that reveal the perfect justice we are witnessing. But often this requires time. The unrolling of time will make the connections obvious, eventually bringing more truth to the surface.
But in the immediate moment—and this is equally true for big issues and little ones—we are in the dark. And the unrolling of time may extend beyond us. This is what spiritual scriptures refer to when they talk about the reality of ultimate justice—we may not see the whole story until after we’ve left our bodies behind. Often, there is “time” referred to after death when everything will be revealed.
We’re typically not crazy about this idea, because it conjures up a punishing eye-in-the-sky deity—an unmerciful ruler who will bring justice down upon our heads. Where did we get this notion? Basically it came from ancient beliefs that confused God with the kind of cruel leaders we found on Earth. The true meaning of the “final judgment” though, is that we will finally see how all the puzzle pieces—of absolutely everything—fit together to form one beautiful picture. Then we’ll see the faultless justice embedded in each of God’s spiritual laws.
So yeah, it sucks that we each have some negative karma to burn off; these spiritual laws are totally going to hold our feet to the fire. But any price we must pay for infringing on God’s laws is far outweighed by the joy of discovering that, wow, this is a fair place after all. Once the wool falls off our eyes, we will joyfully undertake whatever we must go through, because living in a trustworthy universe has so much more value than skipping out on paying off a debt.
Our relief over seeing cause and effect will more than offset having to pay the piper. Although, sure, we’re still going to resist being accountable for our infractions. But on a deeper level, we’ll be profoundly relieved to see the bigger picture: every teensy weensy particle of consciousness creates effects that come back around. This can go one of two ways: we can create positive circles that work in a life-affirming way, or we can create negative vicious circles that deny life. In either case, it all goes like clockwork according to the cause.
(Part 1 of 2: Read Part 2)
Adapted from #249 The Pain of Injustice—Cosmic Records of All Personal and Collective Events, Deeds, Expressions