Before we are born, we write into the plan for our upcoming lifetime a series of challenges that operate like the machines in a gym to help us to strengthen our spiritual muscles. Things like poverty, cancer, abusive spouses, the deaths of children, and other calamities are pretty obvious spiritual lessons, but believe it or not, they aren’t the big ones. No, the evidence is strong that the toughest life lessons of all are possession of either wealth or power. Put them together, and you have a one-two punch at which even advanced beings quail.
What prompted me to discuss this problem was a recent article entitled What Wealth Does to Your Soul. The answer turns out to be: nothing good! Over and over, studies have indicated that the richer people are, the more selfish they become and the less satisfied they tend to be in general. Then, of course, there is Lord Acton’s timeless quotation: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Now that I understand how difficult these lessons are to master, I keep seeing examples of people struggling with them. Here are just three:
As is true of nearly everything that we learn in studying the afterlife evidence, Jesus told us all of this long ago. He said, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (MK 10:31) “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (MT 23:11-12) And “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (MK 10:15) These pretty words are not just words! The afterlife evidence confirms that they are statements of fact about the spiritual physics that governs all our lives.
So much of what Jesus says in the Gospels sounds like only pretty words until we put together nearly 200 years of messages from the dead and come to see that it is profoundest wisdom. Only “the poor in spirit” are able to make spiritual progress toward becoming “the pure of heart” who approach reunion with God. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put the Beatitudes of Jesus at the core of your spiritual reading:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (MT 5:3-10)