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We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement. 

- Victor Frankel

August 31, 2015                        

As summer ends, we find ourselves contemplating the nature of this world with all its troubles and its triumphs. This month Meb reflects on her daughter's blog about a disturbing trend in the American spiritual movement. 

ere's to the Chase, wherever it leads, and learning more about Spirit, miracles and ourselves.

Joan, Katie and Meb       

          Are you a person who believes that we create not only all the successes and good in our lives, but also all the bad events? When was the last time you heard something like this: "Look at it this way, when [bad thing, fill in the blank] happened to you, it was your higher self giving you a growth opportunity and life lesson!"

           Consider the scenario Liz Phillips writes about in her blog, The Treacherous Terrain of Spiritual Utilitarianism Imagine that you, a person who considers yourself firmly on a fulfilling spiritual path, have just broken your leg in a freak accident. While recovering in the hospital, you are visited by someone who, up until now, has been a dear friend...

          Your friend opens her mouth to comfort you and says, "It must be really hard to be dealing with this right now." She continues, with unnatural excitement, "You've given yourself such a wonderful soul growth opportunity!"

          When you gawk at her with both incomprehension and a sinking feeling that perhaps you'd rather remain ignorant of her meaning, she simply plows ahead with the explanation you never had been waiting for, "See, before you were born, your soul chose all the lessons you were to learn in your lifetime. You chose to sign up for all sorts of traumatic experiences, including breaking your leg, so you could accelerate your spiritual development in this lifetime. Gosh, what a wonderful thing! Think of everything you can learn from it!" Wonderful?...

          My daughter Liz goes on to ask: Did you choose before birth that you were going to break you leg? Does everyone choose what happens to them before birth? What about abuse or cancer survivors; what about survivors of genocide? Surely, assuming there's an afterlife, no soul would choose such a horrible experience willingly, no matter how sweeping the universal perspective might be. You think back to spiritual teaching you've heard in the past about the other side being full of light and unconditional love. Could anyone possessing unconditional love for themselves and all beings ever justify or permit atrocities to be done to themselves or others they love simply on the grounds of expedience? Talk about violence inherent in the system!


          The above example describes a concept that is perhaps most popular in new age philosophy and spirituality, but is gaining supporters from people of spiritual backgrounds of all sorts. While this concept is most prevalent in new age thinking about reincarnation, it can appear in a slightly modified form in books or workshops on the law of attraction and manifestation by people who genuinely express their spirituality with heart and dedication.

          The problem as I see it, is that the following is a true statement: A creative and optimistic person can retrospectively find something good/healing/perspective-altering that came out of a harrowing/negative/traumatic event in one's life, even if it is as simple as "I lived another day." Hindsight is 20/20.

          But, because the statement really is true, some people now turn this around to say, "You chose that opportunity; you created your own reality," for the reason of this beneficial outcome you now see in hindsight. Now you don't have to be a victim anymore because you created the very circumstance that you are trying to make sense of. On top of this, it is then suggested that you will benefit from adopting this viewpoint so that you won't identify as a victim!

          At the core, it's another form of victim blaming.

          I wrote my dissertation on women who suffered terrible traumatic events who then became actively engaged in changing their world so that another mother would not have to go through the same tragic experience. We owe a lot of things we take for granted, like car seats, swimming pool covers, motorcycle helmets and drunk driving laws, to women who created meaning from a terrible event by doing something protective that helped other people. 

          I will never subscribe to the belief that these women willed the events and the tragedies in their families for the experience of their own soul's growth. I do believe that an essential part of being human is to learn from experiences and protect ourselves, our families and our communities. While amazing humans, like Victor Frankel, are beacons to our very highest selves, most of us will not face a holocaust from which we must then find meaning. But one cannot go through life for very long without loss, danger, injury and illness. We are all in need of compassion, from ourselves and from others. For me, this is a kind of "reincarnation". I am born again and again into another better self every minute I choose to live a more compassionate life. (Meb)


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Joan, Katie and Meb
co-authors of The Miracle Chase
It's About Survival
"When Liz was about 9, she and I were hiking together and I remember her asking me, "Mom, do yiou think it was a good thing that I got blinded?" Surprised, I told her honestly, "No, honey. But I think we made good things come out of it." The Miracle Chase