I have found great comfort in the thought thatit’s not happening to you, it’s happening to you. “‘ But I have also spoken to sufferers who find this belief system pedantic, unsupportive, stupid and abusive. When I asked a mystical healer to explain why some people are victims of terrible suffering, she replied, “I feel no one is really a victim, although their suffering deserves our compassion, but we are all at the mercy of our own dishonesty, lack of decency, greed, desire to control others and all other negative traits. In the Christian church where I grew up, suffering was explained as follows: “Everything happens for a reason” or “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” “‘ These beliefs can foster resilience and help us face the challenges that life brings with it. Perhaps sometimes our silent witness, our open heart, our humble “I don’t know why this is happening, but I’m here and you’re not alone” is the most spiritual way to be with the suffering of others. Keli said: “If my soul chose this life, then my soul is an idiot.” I asked her how she would feel if someone less suffering imposed this belief system on her. I asked Keli if she thought we would be better off with a nihilistic “shit happens” explanation, and she said that she would not go that far, because it is also true that “she”‘s traumas were catalysts for her growth, and some of them are not accidental. When I was teaching Spiritual Restoration 101, I asked my sister, who is much less privileged than I am and has lived a much harder life, what she thought about her soul choosing certain circumstances in life, such as being born to a mother who would give her up for adoption, or being born a brown person in a country that neglects and traumatizes brown people. I wonder if sometimes our despair is so great that our curious minds can’t handleI don’t know. “‘ Maybe we feel compelled to invent a fiction to get an answer, even if it’s not the real answer. But perhaps, like the idea of karma and the Earth School, it can be used to oversimplify a complex world and get around issues like white supremacy, misogyny or other forms of oppression that can cause real suffering in ways we can change. I don’t know if dark energies latch onto us and cause us pain, but I do believe in inherited problems, ancestral trauma, and that past pain can literally change our DNA in ways that can cause unnecessary suffering. The Hindu Brahmin Guru with whom I worked in Bali explained to me that the suffering and injustice of the oppressed “untouchables” redeems karma for past life mistakes. But she was no more an answer to my question than “I don’t know,” which at least seemed more honest and humble than the pathetic answers some charlatans gave, like a smorgasbord of certainty in an uncertain world. “I don’t know” can be very scary, especially in the face of human suffering. I had to laugh when I read this post by New Age healer and researcher Carla McLaren-who wrote a hysterical article about why she left New Age and became a scientist after hearing her own condition explained as the result of an “Atlantean pelvic being” that left her scar-and suddenly wondered if I too much New Age Kool-Aid.