Seeing the cathedral Notre-Dame of Paris in flames, watching parts of historical heritage disappear, I was observing carefully the impact this event had on people: spectators in tears, under shock, speechless. There was a lot of sadness and disbelief. So I asked myself, what if the flames had rather reached our inner realm where we nourish an erroneous, yet reassuring, belief system that things are permanent?
We tend to believe that things (especially everything that is pleasant and beautiful, like a romantic love story, the dream job, sunny days on the beach…) remain unchanged forever. At least, we hope so. The idea that something that begins, will end at some point, is (very) unpleasant and almost unbearable. When something ends or disappears, our mind employs a multitude of strategies to “not see what has just happened”, to “rebel against the unacceptable“, to explain to oneself “why this is actually a good thing “or” to seek a more or less coherent explanation “. When a disappearance is particularly painful, the very idea of destiny is often exploited by the mind, trying to find meaning and purpose. To experience nonsense is perhaps the most painful thing for us. Why? Because a part of us opposes itself violently against what is painful, even if has already happened. For many of us it is difficult or impossible to “see what is” and to acknowledge the illusion of our imagined omnipotence, (i.e. our often very limited control over events).
Hence, when ancient buildings, rich in history, partially disappear, is it precisely the illusion of (pleasant) permanence of things that is affected in us! It is like saying to ourselves that “if even Notre-Dame de Paris does not hold up, how can I have faith in life? How can I trust that my life might not be shaken up too?”
And yet, our intellect knows perfectly well that nothing is stable, nothing is permanent, nothing remains unchanged, and that everything is in continuous transformation, as slow as it may be! Swami Prajnanpad reminds us that “what comes, comes to (always) go away“. I am deeply convinced that a key to less emotional suffering and reduced internal tension is to (better) investigate our illusory beliefs, especially those in relation to the perpetual change of everything, every relationship, of everything that is. As a consequence, less agitation, feeling less overwhelmed by emotions, allows to see more clearly the appropriate action to put in place.
Another thought, again brilliantly offered by Swami Prajnanpad is “to not consider birth and death separately, but to see all as transformation, that is to say, as change of appearance” … Take the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris: “the death” (the disappearance) of parts of the building resulted in “the birth” (reappearance) of hundreds of millions of Euros in form of donations by large fortunes (question allowed, why has this money remained “invisible” so much time ?)…
©The Vibrant Factory
About Stefan Lehner: Certified executive coach, Life coach, as well as professional coach for nutritional reprogramming & health educator based in Paris. He previously worked in management in an international corporation and he is now also an accomplished competitive athlete. He loves to explore emotions, thoughts and limiting belief patterns, enabling the client a shift towards a renewed outlook and jeopardizing old certitudes. His credo in all coaching situations is empowerment and taking responsibility: become responsible for one owns choices, desires and acts. His book on nutritional transformation (in French) was published in March 2019.
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