For some time now I have found myself torn between two conflicting world views. According to one, life is like a hallway of material temptations, and the job of spiritual person is to not be taken in by any of them. This world view advises recognising life for an illusion and overcoming any attachments and pleasures of the flesh.
The second world view sees us as creators and one with God. It says that joy, happiness, creative fulfilment and love are the purposes of life. It does not advocate removing yourself from any form of material gratification while recognising that we are not material beings, but spiritual beings.
Since I have found both schools of thought useful at different moments in time, I have found myself in need of guidance. On the one hand I knew all too well that life is a process where nothing is constant and any form of attachment or dependency is likely to eventually lead to suffering. On the other hand I resented the idea that happiness needed to be given up in order to avoid pain. I really enjoy beauty, and art, and nature, and certain people and food. All of these things are attachments that make me happy, and I would not look forward to a life without them. Are these feeling the result of ignorance and weakness on my part? Is it not true that I was meant to create and to enjoy my creations? Is it not true that gratitude is preferable to indifference?
I found that what tied the two schools of thought together for me was forgiveness. I think that it is right to enjoy what you have so long as you are willing to forgive, and not judge and not blame when everything doesn’t work out the way you want it to. So long as you understand that your life and your body are a means for expressing the love that you are, they are not who you are. If you are willing to forgive yourself and others for the mistakes that you and they seem to make; if you do not hold on to guilt or resentment; if you do not feel the need to control what happens in the future, and easily stay present in the moment- then you have found paradise within yourself. Then you have realised that escape and resignation are not necessary because there is no danger in being you. Then you have realised that divinity does not exist outside of you in some other realm, but that it has always been you. You as love, you as art, you as life itself. There has never been any separation. Your consciousness is the primary source, and your life is its reflection. There is no need for the source to transcend above the reflection. There is a need for the source to forgive the imperfections it sees in the mirror of life and to come to recognise itself and be love onto itself. This is transcendence and joy all in one.