Where do tsunamis come from, Mommy?

How many times has that question been asked, in various forms, since the Indian Ocean’s belated Christmas present arrived in South Asia? And children aren’t the only ones asking. Most people, even those who are thousands of miles away, are trying to come to grips with the magnitude and impact of this dramatic event.

The answer you get depends on who you ask, however, and they are countless in variety. If you ask a geologist, you will hear something about geothermal cooling and tectonic plate shifts. If you ask other scientists you will probably hear something about random chance. Some religious people will tell you that it’s God’s retribution.

Personally, I find the common answers about as satisfying as a picture of a Big Mac would be to a starving man. The real question, it seems to me, is far more basic: are we the helpless victims of such events, or do we exercise authorship over our lives and their contents? Now there’s a question worth answering. So I will attempt to do so.

The simple fact is that either we are all creating our own personal realities—and collectively our shared one—or we are not. There really isn’t any mid ground. Albert Einstein once declared, in objecting to quantum physics’ uncertainty principle, that he just couldn’t believe God is rolling dice to see what happens next. I’m with you, Al. Nor can I believe that God is some white-haired old puppeteer, pulling the strings and watching us dance. In fact, the only perspective that has ever made any sense to me is that we are all divine creatures with, as Seth put it, “the gift of the gods,” to wit: we create reality. But applying that to events like the recent tsunami stretch the credibility of this idea beyond most people’s ability, or willingness, to keep faith. It is hard for them to see how, much less why, thousands of people would give up their lives in such a way, and millions more decimate their lives from end to end. It is to address those questions that I offer the following interpretation.

The first real clue I got about how to view such events came from Seth’s description (The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts) of a flood in Elmira, New York. He talked about how the people in the area had become concerned about a stagnating economy and an overall sense of hopelessness. They had become increasingly fragmented and withdrawn. Something had to be done. It was as if they called a town meeting (not literally, of course, but perhaps in dreams) to consider the various alternatives. The flood option was adopted.

In the aftermath of the “natural disaster,” people pulled together, rich and poor, young and old, to minimize the damage and later to rebuild. Massive amounts of federal aid poured in. Old businesses died, but new ones were created, and the entire community was rejuvenated. In other words, the purposes, individually and collectively, of the people involved were served.

Now, some people didn’t want to participate, and had the “good luck” to be visiting Aunt Amy in Chicago, or were in Los Angeles on business. Others chose this opportunity to die in the way that served them best. But there were no “victims:” only volunteers.

Another piece of the interpretive puzzle was provided by both Seth and Richard Bach (in his best seller, “Illusions”). They brought out the fact that romantic comedies are not the only kinds of movies people pay to see. They also flock to see “The Bride of Frankenstein,” chainsaw massacres, disaster films, and just about anything else you can mention. Why? Because they have an indescribably wide range of tastes, needs, desires, and interests. Why should life be any different? Why indeed?

So we choose to be born in a certain time and place, in a certain environment, family, and culture. (For a more complete view of this, watch this video.) And we choose to die in the way that is most meaningful to us. No exceptions. None. And, of course, most of us are completely unaware, at least consciously, of any of it. Being fully aware would ruin the whole thing. It would be like reading the last page of a murder mystery, first. So we keep our conscious minds in the dark for the most part, because it serves our purposes, whatever they may be, to do so. Neither does this start at birth, nor end at death. Our creativity is forever, as are the choices we make in directing it.

With that as backdrop, we can now look at the tsunami of 2004. Of all the billions of people who have participated in this drama, which includes even we who only read about it or watch it on television, no two experience the same thing. We each are affected differently. Some died a horrible death, while others are to all intents untouched. Some lost everything, while others will get rich from it. That is because we are all serving our own purposes and desires.

And yes, even the children are parties to this essentially benevolent conspiracy. Just because their odometer reads in small digits doesn’t mean that they are at the mercy of a reality run wild and a natural world that is out to do them harm. In fact, it has been my experience that they some of the most gifted creators among us, because they have not yet forgotten the magical knowledge we are all born with.

Now, in case you think I’m just saying “they asked for it, so who cares?” let me make it clear, nothing could be farther from the truth. In terms of the human caring aspect of the situation, I have tremendous compassion, even admiration, for those who have chosen to take on such a massive challenge. It is clearly not for the faint of heart. And I look kindly upon anyone who tries to make their path less bumpy. But I do not pity them, nor feel sorry for those “poor, helpless victims.” I see them as courageous and determined gods setting the bar higher than most of us can imagine. And they will get their money’s worth from it. They will live and learn and grow and create in the ways that are most important to them. I will not insult them by viewing them as weak and helpless victims of events they could not escape. I consider that an act of spiritual violence. Instead, I try to learn through and from them, and thereby add to the benefits purchased in such a way and at such a price. It is a gift to our world as massive as the forces of nature that were collected and focused by us all on the day the waves came. Let us not squander it by demeaning the people involved by seeing them as victims, but rather celebrate their valor and determination by celebrating their willingness to choose such a path at such a price. Neither they nor we deserve less.

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