Melbourne is shocked by the apparently random death of Sisto Malaspina of Pellegrini’s café in Bourke Street – murdered in the course of trying to help someone.
Coming to grips with this shocking event reminds me of the process I went through in trying to understand the concept of divine order when I was writing The Hidden Order.
On the face of it, it seems that Sisto’s death is cruel, unjust, just plain wrong. We can point to thousands of other events happening around the world right now and come to the exact same conclusion, whether it’s war or torture or abuse or cruelty or slavery or human rights violations or workplace harassment or domestic violence or school shootings or youth suicide…
And at one level we’d be completely right. But that would be judging those events at a surface level, at the level of our senses and our limited awareness.
For readers who are new to my work, the statements I’ve made so far might be very confronting and unsettling, so I’d like to explain – not only for new readers but also for me and anyone else who wants the reminder.
The Mastery Club and The Hidden Order explore a set of extraordinary and powerful ideas about the way the universe is set up. On the surface it looks like most events are either positive or negative, kind or cruel. We can all identify some events that have a foot in each camp, that have both positive and negative aspects, but the real challenges to our mindset are the ones that appear to be completely polarised as only good or bad.
But just as there is no such thing as a particle without an anti-particle, every single ‘thing’ on earth is balanced, even though its partner might be currently out of our sphere of awareness.
For every ‘up’ there is a ‘down’.
For every advance there is a regression.
For every person seeking peace there is someone seeking war.
In Sisto’s case it seems that the warrior collided directly with the peace-lover. But why?
I remember both my editor Tim Marlowe and Dr Demartini giving example after example of the hidden benefits and blessings in apparent tragedy. As Dr Demartini says:
“Even the most terrible events contain hidden blessings. The masters know this truth and remain undisturbed while those of lesser wisdom swing from elation to depression as they move through positive and negative events on their way to understanding.”
If we step back from the shock and look for the blessings, here is a huge one:
Sisto Malaspina has a vast network of customers and friends who dearly love and appreciate him. But I’d never heard of him. I haven’t been into Pellegrini’s. I’ve never had the pleasure of being greeted warmly and served by this individual.
However since his murder, stories about his character have been shared on TV and radio and in publications and blogs all around the world as people remember and celebrate this great man. So here are two hidden blessings that are significant in their size and contribution:
* the number of people who know about this man and his fun-loving and kind approach to business has now increased exponentially.
* the number of people touched and inspired by his attitude, who have determined to be more like him, has also increased exponentially.
With a few minutes of focused attention we could dramatically expand that list of benefits: people’s hearts have opened, they’ve expressed love and gratitude, they’ve taken time out of their rushing to go over there and leave a message or flowers… A blog I’ve just read about him identifies the ‘three things Sisto Malaspina taught me about being a better human being’:
i) a warmth that made you feel special
ii) an ability to recognise faces that made you feel special
iii) a focus on building family rather than a business…
We understand that spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama might make a huge impression on followers, but sometimes it takes a barista to touch someone deeply who might never walk into a spiritual meeting.
What if Sisto had always, at some level, intended to go like this? What if this was his big selfless gift to the world? What if he chose to leave as dramatically as this so that he could inspire millions, open hearts, unleash gratitude and new behaviours (like building a family instead of a business, and being particularly warm and welcoming to customers, whether newcomers or regulars)?
And what if he didn’t intend any of that but it was the outcome anyway?
Someone who is very skillful at finding the hidden blessings in tragic events is Dr Rosemary McCallum, who lost two children in apparently tragic circumstances, and has counseled many people to see how the crises in their lives serve them. She’s the author of Outrageous Courage – Stories of People Who Have Triumphed Over Adversity and How You Can Too.
Rosemary has quite a following of people who have been inspired to move through troubling events in an empowered way. I’m speaking at her end-of-year function on Friday 30th November about my books and my personal journey, and how there is no such thing as a one-sided experience of life like ‘ greener grass’. Everything holds its opposite, just as the yin/yang symbol illustrates. Sisto’s death, tragic as it appears, holds an abundance of blessings.