Event and Experience, Understanding the Difference

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“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 

Matthew 13:47-48

One of the keys to our spiritual approach is understanding the difference between an event and how we experience it. We don’t always have control over events, but we do have much to say about how we experience them.

This parable includes two kinds of fish: good and bad. Think of these as the choice between a positive and negative response to a given event. The good fish represents the experience of peace of mind and freedom from fear. The bad fish represents a response that evokes mental and emotional chaos and fear. When responding to one of life’s events, which type of fish do you want in your basket?

The parable instructs us to keep good fish only. Does this mean we are to force a positive attitude despite the negative event? No. Forcing a positive attitude means we are addressing the mental side only. We are neglecting the emotional side, which is the most important component of our internal experience. The good fish includes the mental and emotional aspects of our experience. This means our response to an event is grounded, not in appearances, but in spiritual truth.

When life throws us a negative event, our good fish response would go something like this: Greater good is now unfolding. The path forward opens before me. I know what to do and I do it.

We know our prayer is answered when we can observe the event with genuine peace of mind and freedom from fear. The spiritual principle embodied in this parable is, in fact, the truth that sets us free. 

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