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Outlooks from the Inner Life

By Cedric Speyer



“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.”
— Hazrat Inayat Khan

That quote by the founder of the Sufi Order in the West (see his book The Art of Being and Becoming) was posted on LinkedIn of all places and produced some remarkable reactions. Off the top of the comments was the charge that it represented a “very old testament, vengeful, jealous God.” The discussion which followed revealed how embedded we have become in a culture of victimhood, and how the hardships of soul growth can make no sense from the ego’s point of view.

Comments that ensued: “Repeated abuse masquerading as freedom? Please!!!” Someone then tried to offset the notion that God would be exercising vengeance or punishment, invoking Hemingway’s famous perspective: “Life breaks everyone, and afterward some are strong at the broken places.” For a moment in the string of comments there was a note of consolation: “I suppose . . . there’s a payoff — a larger self, a more compassionate heart — to which we are led by suffering.”

Yet still no comprehension of the way we are loved into fuller and deeper being through our personal crucifixions. “It sounds like assault, not suffering! There’s a huge difference between being assaulted and suffering an injury and the idea that God would do that ‘for our own good’ just doesn’t strike a resonate chord. Sad we need to accept pain to cease it. A lesson does not need to be delivered with pain and suffering.” That sent the discussion into a long sidebar about the difference between pain and suffering from a Buddhist point of view. In summary, when we are over-identified with the story of our pain, it becomes the kind of suffering that reinforces the self tightly contracted around its own importance.

Something about the confusion between surrendering to the metanoia of a broken heart not needing to mend itself with defences set off a lady who joined the online conversation “shouting” in caps: “WHAT UTTER DRIVEL . . . WE ARE MASTERS OF OURSELVES . . . UNIQUE BEINGS WHO THINK . . . GOD HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF CHOICE — NOT TO FORCE OUR HEARTS INTO SUBMISSION . . . WAKE UP . . . YOU HAVE A CHOICE . . . IT’S YOUR CALL NOT GOD’S . . . I DON’T BLAME MY HEARTBREAKS ON GOD.”

Given all these projections directed at God, for better or for worse, we can see why all of it has to inevitably and necessarily die on the cross. All the emotional attachments of our hearts, as truthful as those might be, still leave us seeing through a glass darkly, through veils concealing our spiritual heart, which is neither created nor destroyed by the passage of time. The resurrected heart, the everlasting essence and perfume of our personhood, is exactly that which opens and stays open after all the tragic closures have deeply disappointed and disillusioned our strategies for happiness.

Thank God that God doesn’t depend on anyone “getting it” intellectually. Yet it’s “nice to have” and even LinkedIn debates can be broken and opened on another level: “Not God as the punitive parent. God as the source of that compassion . . . impossible to close (the heart) once it’s been transformed in this way, surely?”

Yes, open even unto the last licks comment capping off the LinkedIn string about the meaning involved: “THE JURY IS STILL OUT . . .”

Speyer is a Benedictine Oblate as well as an author, subject matter expert for e-therapy, clinical consultant and director of InnerView Guidance International (IGI). He also directs a documentary series entitled GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders. Connect with Cedric on or via