A middle way
A few years ago, I knew a guy on youtube who made these excellent presentations which amounted to clips from movies, music, and his narration. His main message in all the videos was: we're all part of God returning to Oneness. He explicitly rejected the concept of duality as illusion – as many followers of Buddha reject physical reality as illusion. My last note to him was about this mistake.
Just as atheists deny God and spirituality, he and some Buddhists deny the dual structure of our reality. To say duality is an illusion or to say physical reality is an illusion is just as 'bad' as atheists denying spirituality. For me, it's an undeniable fact of our existence: we live in a dual-physical-spiritual universe.
I asked mom to guess what I consider the 'two core human struggles'. ;) In all fairness, by the time I asked her, she was all tuckered out (from my incessant spewing of 'BS' ;). So I had to answer for her:
to accept God's love and
to overcome our fear of death
The Christian method for 2 is: forcing you to believe in a Heaven/Hell, forcing you to accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and living (what they tell you is) a Christian life. Now of course, what that life is exactly, in detail, depends on your denomination. And so because of this rigid structure, denominational inconsistency, and arrogant attitude: “We Christians know the Truth!”, has forced me to invent a less rigid, less formal, and less ritualistic path to God.
As I understand it, there are at least two ways to find God: within and in love between us. So 1 is 'easy' to achieve if we 'simply' live with an open heart. Of course, I put those two words in quotes for very good reason: easier said than done, right?
But it would not be a core human struggle if it was easy.
2 can be done in many ways but I prefer a spiritual approach. If we recognize we live in a dual universe, 2 becomes trivial. As in my explanation to mom, 2 can be accomplished by 1. In fact, EVERYTHING can be accomplished by 1. ;)
Sometimes you must overcome your feelings of isolation and unlovableness. I don't recommend doing this in a ritualistic way. Smile at someone you like from your heart. You might be surprised by the response. If you love somebody, tell them: “I love you.” Even if there's always the chance for rejection or misunderstanding, Truth is better than deception.
I'm convinced Buddha never said “all is illusion” but rather: “find a balanced middle way”. If we focus on emotional/physical gratification, that's denying the other half of our existence. Conversely, if we only think about Heaven or the spiritual side, at the exclusion of all else, we make the same mistake.
“You cannot make a coffee table out of the Holy Spirit.”
Let's use a good analogy. We want to build a strong and safe house. The house corresponds to your life. What do we need? Wood and sand. Wood to make beams and walls; sand for the cement foundation. But sand by itself is no good. We need cement powder and water. The sand represents the Holy Spirit. The powder and water represent your actions and words. In your good life, you use the power of the Holy Spirit for good deeds and words. What does the wood represent? Physical reality. We cannot build a strong and safe house without strong wood and solid foundation. Here's where the analogy gets interesting. Suppose a hurricane/tornado came by and destroyed your house. This would be equivalent to you losing your entire family, but only you survived.. What would be the point of living? You would want to die.. But should you? ..Part of the miracle of existence is recognizing our life is a gift, a gift from God, to us. Likely, your foundation is still there (the Holy Spirit, your past good deeds, and words are still 'there' in the past – nothing can change history). The love you shared with others can never be erased/dismissed.
Divorce is one of the most stressful things a human can endure. It's similar to death in the family. People have a tendency to negate and dismiss broken relationships as 'failed' and all good things that may have happened in them. I do this myself. But it's a mistake. Love shared can never be 'taken back' or denigrated. Love is love.
If you must 'put the past behind you' and attempt to forget your broken relationships, please try not to forget all the good you might have experienced. Don't demonize your ex just to 'get over them'. Recognize their failings (and your own!) but don't obsess with them. Balance them with your shared precious moments. Remember your love.
There are many ways to 'measure' a man/woman's life.. Accomplishments, trophies, awards, recognitions, number of patents awarded, fortune left for children, number of patients cured, number of cases won, number of books published, buildings made, cars built, cars acquired, fancy homes, expensive schools for the kids,.. But what about love? Love shared?
If you look at my life in particular, I've only self-published one book, have a mountain of defaulted debts, no assets, no material possessions (aside from the computer I'm using now), and nothing much to show for my life except four things: my university diploma and systems education, my articles, my son Arthur, and the love I've shared with others.
..The other day, I had the perfect opportunity to tell my friend: “I love you.” Twice. And a 'goddess' I know accepted a smile and wink from me – straight from my heart. She smiled back at me. She changed my life with that smile. God was in that smile and still is.