Sunday Morning (34)
I am a bit late with this column, somewhere some thought thinks it is Tuesday already, but that is fine because time doesn’t exist.
Recently, Kristin Entler wrote a column on this website about feeling guilty about getting extra accommodations as a disabled student, based on the ADA (Americans with Disability Act). Because of having cf, she was granted the privilege to have 48 hours priority registration for new upcoming classes. This way, she could create a class schedule that suits her health and fits in with all the responsibilities that come with living in a cf body (doctor appointments, medication, treatments etc.).
She describes that on the one hand, she really needs this priority treatment to be able to attend classes at all – it’s no luxury. On the other hand, seeing fellow students not getting the classes they wanted, fills her with guilt. She knows that this is irrational, due to ableism, and the system that made the ADA necessary in the first place – but this does not take care of the guilt.
She is right of course: thoughts like this will never take care of guilt. Trying this will always get you stuck in a intern dialogue of “on the one hand, but on the other”. And it will solve nothing. The mind loves to entertain itself with never ending puzzles like this, because while doing this, it feels alive and existing (while in fact, it is just a mirage, a bundle of thoughts that has no bearing in reality at all).
I would like to point out to her, and to anyone that is struggling with thoughts like these, that there is a much better, more effective and most of all more true way of looking at this, that will solve the problem entirely once and for all. It will not answer her questions and doubts and feelings, but it will completely and utterly dissolve them. It will take care of any guilt you might have, had or will ever have. It’s called going beyond the mind. For that, you have to realize just two things very clearly. It is in fact very easy and any one can do this without any trouble.
In the first place, all of these thoughts about this situation are about the “me”, the person. They all start with “I”. I am disabled. I have a lot of extra stuff to take care of, therefor I need this priority treatment. Getting into these specific classes is good for me. If I get into these classes first, some other students will not get there, because of what I did. This is my fault. I don’t want to disadvantage those students, because they need to get into those classes as bad as I do perhaps, for other reasons. My behavior is harming them. I feel guilty about that. But I have no choice. Etc.
So, on a relative level, all these thoughts seem to have a certain merit. But only if you think that they are absolutely true. They are all about causality, causing things to happen, and they construct a causal relation between you and what happened. Then they say: it happened because of you. But causality is much more difficult to establish. If you look at these thoughts closely, considering not only your limited view and knowledge about the situation, but going a little higher and more true, none of these thoughts will stand the test of holism. Let me apply this method here:
It is not only because of you getting into this class that other students draw a blank. It is because of all of the other students that got into the class as well. Together with all the other students that filled up the class, many of which did not use the ADA but were just a second faster or a tad more lucky, the class got full and some student did not make the mark. That is what happens if there are more apples than fit in the bag. It is not the last or the first apple that fills up the bag, it is all of them together. It is not only about you. If you think everything is about you, you are clearly not thinking well. Perhaps there is a class to fix this. Thinking like this is, in a way, very egoic. The world doesn’t revolve around you. You are just one of the many things that caused this to happen. If you go back into searching for all the causes, it is all because of Adam and Eve. There is no blame and no doing in this. It just happened because it was apparently due to happen for billions of reasons, most of them unknown to us.
Secondly, and more importantly, because the first argument is in the end also sort of based on thinking (although this is clear thinking), there is another way of looking at this entirely: You know nothing!
You think that following this class is good for you, but you don’t know that for sure. People don’t know what is good for them in the grand scheme of things. We don’t have the oversight, our thinking brain is to small to take everything into account that is knowable, and certainly not to allow for everything that is possible. What you think is good for you, or bad for the other students, might be just the other way around. Let me illustrate this with a little old Daoist story, that I have used before on this forum.
This is an old story of a farmer who’s only horse ran away. The neighbors came to him and told him how unlucky he was. But he said: “Is that so?”. The next day, the horse came back and was followed by 4 other fine horses. The neighbors came to him and told him how lucky he was. But he said: “Maybe”. His son tried to tame one of the new horses and was thrown of and broke his leg. The neighbors again told the man how unlucky they were, and again he only said: “Perhaps”. The following month, army officers came to draft young men to fight in a war, but the son was not eligible because of his broken leg and could stay home. And of course, the neighbors thought he was very lucky, but the farmer only repeated: “It’s hard to tell”.
This shows we have no way of knowing what is good or bad for us. Every time a thought comes in our limited minds that tells us “it is like this; this is good for you; this is not good for you”, you have to be critical and not believe it. Ask your mind: “Is that so?” With a bit of distance, relativation and creativity you will soon find out: “Maybe; Perhaps; It’s hard to tell”. Getting into this class might be what you need, or it will kill you if there is an explosion in the classroom just when you were attending one of those classes. Then, you will not feel so lucky and guilty anymore. The other student that was not allowed, will not feel frustrated anymore but very lucky. Things can change in a second. Good becomes bad and vice versa, because something happened that was unforeseeable for you, but in the grand scheme of things it was already destined when Adam and Eve were hopping around in the garden and eating apples (not filling a bag). Not getting into the class is what you fear, or it will be the best thing that ever happened to you, because while doing another class, or not being at school at all, you meet the love of your life that otherwise would not have happened. Well, you get the drift now I hope.
So, there is just always what is simply happening. You think you get into the class because you applied for it early using the ADA, and others missed this opportunity, but in fact you just got in and they didn’t. And the reasons your mind made up for this are not wrong, but they are only an infinitesimal part of the cosmic causality that made this all happen. We can’t feel guilty about things that we don’t know or didn’t do: it was the universe in action, aliveness playing its game on a much larger scale than we can comprehend. Don’t think about it. Just play along, be surprised what happens and accept it as if you have chosen it. But never really think that you made it happen because of you choice: it happened because of aliveness, and your mind was quick afterwards to made up the thought that you did it.
The only thing to do is: laugh out loud at everything that happens. It is not you, it is just what happens. It is never because of you. This is freedom. They should teach this at university. Ah wait, it is already what the universe teaches us. We are all in that class, we don’t have to apply for it, with or without ADA.
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