Why Life is So Difficult Today (& Mankind is Such a Mess).

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You are pure consciousness. Perfect, sacred, divine. This is the essence of your being and it is the essence of all being.

Whether the being of a stone, stream, star, or an animal, all is consciousness. The universe itself is built with building blocks of consciousness but no microscope will ever be strong enough to see it.

It can only be felt.

Our ancient ancestors felt it. That is why they said that stones and streams and stars had their own spirits. They felt the spirits of the stars through the core of their own being, their own spirit, and they gave the stars names.

We have become separated from our own spirit.

Photograph: ‘Eight-Tear-Year-Old Woman’ – www.paulprescott.com

We have become separated from our own spirit. And so we no longer feel the spirit of the world around us, even though that is why we are here—in this body, on this earth, at this time. We are here to experience relationship. To know the spirit of the world around us through our own sense of being. That is the purpose of this life, truly. To Be, but to Be in relationship to the world around.

A few choose the path of renunciation (renouncing worldly pleasure in favor of the search for enlightenment)—as did I, until I met my beautiful wife.
Some choose a life partner while others have many partners along the way.
For most of us choices include children, friendships, and professional relationships.
We also have relationships with the Earth, our animal neighbors, the stars above.

Ultimately this is the true test of our skill in life:

Are we able to truly be ourselves even whilst in relationship to others and the world around us?

It’s quite a test. Let’s be honest – most of us are failing miserably! Most of us barely manage the first part—to know ourselves deeply.

Why is this? Why is it that we feel so alone, disconnected, and lost?
Why have we been making the same mistakes—history repeating itself—again and again, generation after generation?
Why is the divorce rate higher than ever; more war than ever; more fear and stress and crisis?

The answer is very simple: trauma. Mankind experienced a very specific trauma, the trauma of separation (this is what the biblical story of the Garden of Eden is about), and since then has been stuck in the belief that we are indeed each of us separate beings. As long as we believe ourselves to be essentially alone, we have to fend for ourselves – and then fear, greed, and corruption arise.

How and when we first experienced this trauma of separation is almost impossible to say. Perhaps it coincided with the development of our highly advanced neo-cortex brain (the tree of knowledge): the part of us that is unique amongst all these species here on Earth.
As we became more ‘intelligent’, so we lost touch with our essential selves and our sacred relationship with nature. Our Egos were born in all their terrible, petty, controlling glory. We then—using our newfound intelligence—began to birth our children in unnatural ways and our sense of separation was confirmed and compounded.

But the real question is not how or why or when this happened, but:

What are we doing about it?

Positive thinking, when you have a deep subconscious fear, does nothing.
Energy healing can be a temporary ‘band-aid’, but without removing the cause, the problem persists.
The psychological approach is highly inefficient because the problem is not ‘in our heads’ – it’s here in our bodies. It’s felt as a concrete, very real, physical sense of separation. We sense that we are deeply disconnected – not only from the world around us, but—more importantly—from our own spirit.

What can we do about it?
Well, first of all, the fact that you have read this far into this article is encouraging: you are interested in your own Self. You want to know true love and be done with fear. You want to do more than just survive; you want to thrive. And you want to experience the whole of your being, not just a limited perception of it.

So please, keep reading. Keep investigating yourself. Continue to search.
But know that ultimately what separates you from the truth and freedom and love that you yearn for is just like a shadow—insubstantial. And just as easily as you walk through your shadow, so too can you let go of subconscious blockages. In my next article  I’ll explain how.

Subconscious blockages have no substance. They are not permanent, and therefore not real. They are like emotions, thoughts, feelings—they can be experienced, but they do not define you. They are not you. They seem real—but they are not.

What is real, what is permanent, is consciousness. And it’s the same consciousness that is in every living being, and every corner of the universe.


You are not alone or separate. That illusion could not be further from the truth.


Please share  – ‘like’, tweet, etc.

And feel free to leave a comment!

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anonymous Dec 10, 2012 12:37pm

[…] question for us today is, where are we now? Are we regressing or progressing? Why do we still treat one another so disrespectfully? Why are so many still denied the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of […]

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anonymous Nov 10, 2012 4:29pm

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anonymous Oct 24, 2012 7:27am

Thank you for the interesting post.
May I suggest that the solution can only be to Transcend daily. To experience Pure Consciousness through the practice of meditation. ''That which you bring your attention to grows in your life'' (MMY). The solution cannot be on the superficial level of thoughts or emotions. The solution is to go to a deeper level, to the level of the universal field of consciousness. And the effect of enlivening and radiating the order and positivity of the unified field, the quantum field, is more powerful when by individuals meditate in groups. If we water the roots of our lives we will nourish and enjoy the fruits of infinite creativity and love.

    anonymous Oct 24, 2012 1:00pm

    Hello Allen, and thank you for your interesting comment.
    I am a meditation teacher, yoga teacher, healer, and trainer of therapists.
    I agree 100% that meditation is perhaps one way in which we can heal the world.
    However, there are some traumas that are not healed, even in deep meditation – or rather, it would take a lifetime (or many lifetimes) to heal them.
    So I write about healing trauma because I know firsthand that it is necessary for global healing.
    The proof, for me, is that when you heal trauma you don't need to Transcend daily. You automatically live in that state of presence – effortlessly.
    With love,

anonymous Oct 22, 2012 6:20pm

Wonderful post Ben. I go through cycles sometimes wondering how my life can be so difficult (or overwhelming) and then moments of clarity (for lack of a better word) when I feel connected, lucky (or worthy, perhaps) for this life…and, as you stated in one of the comments, the realization that if and when I meet my creator will I have lived a full life or simply escaped through distraction, blame or worse, self-pity. I continue to learn and grow.

anonymous Oct 22, 2012 4:16am

I just told someone I am alone in this life and will deal with this and then this is the first ting I read immediately upon opening my inbox. Universe sending me signs perhaps ?

    anonymous Oct 22, 2012 4:27am

    You are the universe. You are Life itself. Forgettting that, you feel alone. Remember, and experience the ultimate connection – with yourself.

anonymous Oct 22, 2012 12:16am

"More war than ever"? You are less likely to get killed in a war now than at any time in human history. The murder rate is also a tiny fraction of what it was a few centuries ago. We are extremely lucky to live in such peaceful times.

    anonymous Oct 22, 2012 2:49am

    Dear Robin,
    Thanks for an interesting comment.
    I think that what you say about war is true about certain parts of the world, and very untrue in others. My writing is about the global situation.
    It's not that there's less war, it's just that it's more organized.
    And the murder rate may well be less, but I don't think that means that 'peace reigns'. In fact, I'd say that most people may well live longer in the West, but are far, far less peaceful (inwardly) than at any other time in history.
    I realize you may well disagree, but think about this: the country you live in spends more on it's 'defence' budget than on education (a LOT more, google it). And the country you live in is currently involved in various wars.

      anonymous Oct 22, 2012 2:50am

      And you might find this interesting too – http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/10/yoga-opens

      anonymous Oct 22, 2012 4:37am

      The country I live in spends 1.3% of its GDP on defence and 2.75% on education (until 2004, though, military spending was higher). It is only very recently that more than a handful of governments have spent anything on education, let alone more than they spend on war. There's a kind of a war going on in the Southeast against Kurdish separatists, but compared to "real" wars the casualties are minimal. Probably more Turks were killed by Anzacs in the first five minutes of the Gallipoli campaign than by the PKK for the entire history of their insurgency. As for Syria, that's little more than a shouting match at the moment, though of course it could turn nasty.

      Modern wars kill a lot of people, but that is partly because technology is better and partly because there are more people around to kill and be killed. In terms of a proportion of the world's population, I don't think anyone has beaten Genghis Khan's record.

        anonymous Oct 22, 2012 8:45am

        Ah forgive me, I guessed you were an Englishman in England!

anonymous Oct 21, 2012 9:46pm

Krishna says ,"lust is the all devouring sinful enemy of tis world." The ultimate Trauma is our separation from Him. This is rectified, resolved and restored by purifying our Lust, Kama, turning it into love, Prema. Instant relief from lust can be experienced by chanting the holy names of God, any bonafide names will do, Jehovah, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Rama, Govinda. Our reluctance to praise God is what keeps us on this plane of miserable temporary existence. Here we are repeatedly being torn away from loved ones, who are also traumatized by lust. While on this plane we cannot appreciate or fully experience our eternal nature. Reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is can clearly shed light on our true eternal spiritual identity in relation to God. The universe, as attractive as it is, is not lovable, it is temporary matter. Spirit is lovable, it is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. To perfect life and love one must escape the prison of the material world, stop trying to make a permanent settlement here, and seek to resume his relationship with God. All other solutions are simply blowing on a boil.

    anonymous Oct 21, 2012 11:49pm

    So sorry, but escape is not an option. You are here. In this body. You think it's a mistake? Did God make a mistake putting you in this physical body?! Of course not. You are here, so stop trying to escape, and figure out how to be here properly, as your God would want you to.
    Imagine you meet Krishna after your death. If you spent this whole life trying to escape, what would he say?

anonymous Oct 21, 2012 3:24pm

"They are not permanent, and therefore not real. " Since nothing is permanent, then is nothing real?

    anonymous Oct 21, 2012 11:45pm

    There is something that is permanent Leonora. Something that never dies, and never changes.

anonymous Oct 21, 2012 3:01pm

what a beautiful article… thank you for reminding us that we are all one. we need to be reminded sometimes as it´s so easy getting lost and feel separeted these days.
freedom to you in all it´s form, my friend
Agnieszka xoxo

anonymous Oct 18, 2012 8:52pm

Ben, being able to articulate the creative process as well as you have is interesting to read, but limited in practical application. Intellectual descriptions of truth can sometimes serve as a sign posts that point folks in a helpful direction. However, the truth is not a set of intellectual concepts. The truth is a living experience of Spirit… which ultimately, boils down to the quality of our choices and the contents of our characters.

    anonymous Oct 18, 2012 11:58pm

    Auki, I agree completely. The Tao that can be spoken (or written) about is not the real Tao. But I'm a writer, so I use clumsy, inadequate words, and here we are 🙂

anonymous Oct 18, 2012 3:13pm

Life is so difficult today because enlightened souls, like our dear friend Ben Ralston, still use outdated and sexist terms like "Mankind" to refer to all of "Humankind" (this is said with the utmost love and respect).

anonymous Oct 18, 2012 2:05pm

And I would say that it's not just about us, us humans, this is the big ego to only see the human side. The trauma isn't just about us and our relation to the world. It's how «we» destroy habitats of living beings regardless of us accepting they have the right of their life and their own. It's how we destroy other living beings for anything that's suppose to be good for «us». The trauma is to see this fact, and that we cannot change the course of what is done and what will be done. My trauma is there, it's really there, much more than my desire to be lifted of it. Of course I would love to feel free of these emotions. My neighbor is cutting a magnificent pine tree because he thinks is life will be better with spreading his house of few meters, an addition of an other room, in his big house of plenty of rooms. When I ear the chainsaw my heart goes beserke so I pretty well understand that everything has a spirit. I feel the pain. I vacuumed my house to put sounds between this fate. It's done now. Life goes on. But how and for whom ? This is a simple example and not the more hurtful one. The more you open and feel for the lives around us, the more hurt you absorb. Humans cannot even live in peace, they want to address all of their ego work first, and then if the animals and nature will still be there, then maybe they will think of absorbing a place for it, zoos and parks. I'm pessimistic. I go in life with this wound and I will die with it, no matter if I'm vegan and how much yoga, meditation I do, I will still feed raw meat my dogs, cause I'm caring for them even if this brake my own vows. There's a paradox, nobody is clean of causing harm. I wish humankind to have a leap of faith out of all ideologies and theocracies that still harm any other life but at the same time I'm miserable, the perfect way of living isn't possible. The only way is to accept what is, and it's very difficult and painful.

    anonymous Oct 19, 2012 12:16am

    Hi Kalou,
    Thank you for your heartfelt comment.
    The world is harsh. Life is harsh, and you're right – there is no way of living in this world without causing harm.
    However, human beings don't trust, respect, or love themselves and each other (because of trauma). As a result, we destroy far, far more than is necessary. it *is* possible to live in this world harmoniously – which does not mean 'never causing harm', but rather ' in balance with the natural cycles of birth and death and rebirth.
    Death is not bad or wrong – and if you feel so much suffering so intensely, I would warmly offer you a piece of advise: work on your boundaries, and strengthen them so that you are not affected so much by other beings pain. Because it's enough to live this life with your own pain, but to feel others is too much – I know from experience.
    To strengthen your boundaries, investigate the healing method of RPT.
    With love…

      anonymous Oct 19, 2012 2:16pm

      Thank you for giving this reference <3

Kate Bartolotta Oct 17, 2012 7:56am

Ben!! Exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you. Xo

anonymous Oct 17, 2012 4:09am

Ben really great post and I have to say that I feel that you are right. I know deep in my soul that the traumas of my past that still blind me to my better healthier self are the one's that I need to dissolve. I work slowly in my own way. I use my poetry and music to do this. I try to reach out to the world as my community. Thanks very much. From my studies and research with have stopped listening with our hearts (which is the greatest listening tool for our souls).

anonymous Oct 16, 2012 12:36pm

great article – because it is questioning the core point of what we are experiencing… the main problem i have is not how and when this happened, but why… as you try to answer. i think it has nothing to do with inteligence… i also feel we all, as a sum up of our ancestors in a way, are here to become aware of the whole trauma (like you said) from all the people in our bloodline from the past, and in one "shot" of being aware of this, we can release the baggage of all the past generations… and then we become free…. but! why does this not happen?? why? why can't i release a trauma forever?? it comes back in another form… i don't understand that… what does it take? "Subconscious blockages have no substance. They are not permanent, and therefore not real. They are like emotions, thoughts, feelings – they can be experienced, but they do not define you. They are not you. They seem real – but they are not." your words are the answer…but wtf!!? it is like impossible from this point of view… but i will not stop anyway. 🙂 lots of light to you!

    anonymous Oct 16, 2012 12:58pm

    Breda, it's very possible, and usually very easy. But it's not easy to do it on your own – you need to know what you are doing and you need to know how to find your own subconscious 'stuff' – not easy. With the help of a therapist or a friend that knows how, it's easy. I'm teaching this method, and I promise you – you can release many generations ancestral trauma *fast*. And as you say – then comes freedom.

anonymous Oct 16, 2012 6:54am

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung

    anonymous Oct 16, 2012 10:40am

    Great quote! Thank you 🙂

anonymous Oct 16, 2012 1:18am

Love your work Ben.

Especially this:

"Are we able to truly be ourselves even whilst in relationship to others and the world around us?"

I guess that's why yoga can be a helpful tool – it strips away that which is not who we are, revealing out truth of being, and helping us develop the courage to stand in that truth in front of all. And with dedication, persistance and tenacity, we can watch those fears that arise until they lift so high that root trauma is revealed for the illusion it is.

    anonymous Oct 16, 2012 2:12am

    Thank you KL.
    Yep, Yoga is so helpful. And how wonderful that so many more people are doing it nowadays (or something like it)!

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Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting.
He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.