Phoenix Rising: Lessons From the Chilean Miners

“I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God.” Mario Sepulveda, one of the 33 Chilean miners pulled to safety this week, gave us a poignant example of the duality of life with these moving words.

How many times do we hear people say “it’s not black and white.” They may be talking about a particular situation in their lives, or an opinion on something important to them. They tell us that the truth is more complicated, and lies somewhere in between the black and white — in the gray zone. This gray zone is a blending of belief systems and circumstances supposedly beyond our control.: Le

Let’s look at the beauty of a tuxedo cat. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of living with a tuxedo, they are black cats with white paws and bellies, and they often have white on their faces. The stark contrast between the shiny black fur and the glistening white patches creates a strikingly handsome animal. I don’t want to imply that black is negative and white is positive — they are both beautiful, but opposite. No gray exists anywhere on their bodies. Tuxedos are black and white — no in-between. The colors blend together to make an individual full of character. Tuxedos teach us about loving and learning from both aspects of life. Every situation has the potential for a positive and negative outcome — it is we who determine what that outcome will be.

Tuxedos show us not to resist duality, but to embrace it. There is nothing in life that is free of a positive and a negative dual nature. The good news is that despite being in the midst of negativity, there is a positive solution. In every cloud, there is a silver lining waiting to be discovered. And within that same cloud is the potential for a rain storm.

The gray zone of life is an illusion; it is a place of our own making. When situations become uncomfortable, our human nature requires that we find an underlying reason for our circumstances. We often blame someone else for creating our drama. We don’t want to look at both aspects — the black and the white, the good and the bad, the positive and the negative.

Many dualities are apparent in the mining disaster. The rescue was a source of national pride, yet the corruption and safety issues that created the accident are a national disgrace. The miners have become heroes for the entire world, and have showed us how a positive attitude literally brought them from the dark to the light. Some, however, had both a wife and a girlfriend waiting for them, and had to face the consequences of their actions. And even with the gratitude and relief they feel, all the miners will have to deal with the physical and psychological ramifications of 79 days underground.

If we walk head first into the dualities of our lives, and take responsibility for creating all of them, we gain power over what’s happening to us. We must have the courage to look at the painful aspects of our circumstances. In doing so, we can choose to learn from what’s happening, and knowledge is always a powerful healer. Once we have examined all aspects of the situation, we must stay positive in order to find our way home.

The miners lived this philosophy. They listened to the voice of a wise member of their group who suggested rationing food. They took it upon themselves to monitor and care for the health of the older miners. They helped each other through injuries and fear, and made the most of the good moments from above.

May the joy we feel for the miners, their families, and all who worked tirelessly to rescue them ease their remaining transition from darkness to the healing light.


Jo C.
Jo C7 years ago

Kristen-your thinking I think is on the right track-I find now life--Miracles can happen and GOd to many people is real.

Kirsten B.
Past Member 7 years ago

Yes Kay L. and Susan P. - life has many, many shades of grey in it.

Life is not all black and white. If we do not see, work with, accept and learn from the grey, we can end up being very close-minded, opinionated, limited beings (believe me, I know a few of them - and I'm sure everyone else does too).

Maybe I just need more than 2 reads of this article to understand what exactly is being gotten at, but although this article had some good points in it, I couldn't really follow the logic, links, background or reason for it (other than to express the miracle of the miner rescue). Maybe someone else can enlighten me?

Cindy B.
Cindy B7 years ago

Well, I think there are LOTS of terms we could use to describe, or refer to, the "dualities" we find in life. Of course there are positives and negatives to almost everything -- every circumstance, object, idea or experience. That is, there are many inherent factors. Crazy thing is, although every one of 'em might be valid, they can also be inconsistent or even mutually exclusive. It all depends on the context, or theoretical orientation, you apply to the analysis. For instance, take a simple question like, "am I a good housekeeper?" Well, the ans. might be "yes" if you consider all the other stuff you have to do every day. It might be "no" if you compare yourself to several friends who are better housekeepers. It might be "yes" again when you consider your good values and intentions, but "no" again if you consider how many times you've actually given other stuff priority.... "Reality" is so amazing when you consider how it can hop around all over the place, shapeshift, etc... And what of the more nebulous, abstract ideas like love, honor or duty vs. housekeeping....! What amazes me sometimes is that humans can communicate meaningfully at all! So is all "reality" black or white, with the gray areas only of our own construct? Maybe -- but I think far more problems have been obscured vs. illuminated and eventually solved by people's natural tendency (it's so much easier, for one thing) to see things in "black or white."

Deborah Litster
Deborah Litster7 years ago

Thank God they finally decided to get them out these guys were in the mine for months I can't believe it took so long God finally fought the devil and won finally they spent the money needed to get them out

ruth a.
ruth a7 years ago

I basically liked the parts of this article on the miners themselves, however, I do have a couple of points I take issue with. One is this quote: The colors (of the Tuxedo cat) blend together to make an individual full of character. I thought we were long past thinking that skin (or fur) color had any effect on character!!

Two, the rain storm in the cloud is very likely the silver lining, esp. in this day and age of drought or lack of fresh water.

Margaret B.
Margaret B7 years ago

Sorry Janice, but if I were to put my hope ONLY into other human beings, I would be in a sorry state indeed. We are not God. We can control very little, actually....and make enormous mistakes constantly. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try and become more god-like. Compassion, good works and mercy are great gifts indeed.... but I will put my trust where it belongs, with God. Our choices play a great role in our lives. We cannot blame God for the evil in this world...much of it is our own choosing....even the choice on how we deal with misfortune.

Susan Pernot
Susan Pernot7 years ago

I agree with Kay L "
Life is more like a black-and-white photograph, with many, many shades of grey. There are sharp edges and fuzzy gradients. Life is too intricate, complicated and every-changing to be simplified into a single duality, moral or otherwise".
This is what makes everone unique.

Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

I have to take issue with the claim that any god rescued those miners. Let's face it. It was HUMAN BEINGS, who worked around the clock to save those men. If no human beings had embarked on this effort to save them, they would stiil be there, and that is where they would have finally run out of food and died.

Those of us who do not believe in a god are not without hope, as at least one commenter postulated. Rather, we hope for exactly what these miners received - help from actual human beings, who care. If we all REALLY cared about and helped one another, no one would have to ever wait for help from some supernatural force that will likely not arrive. That is the only way we will ever get through life - by people helping one another. Therein lies our hope.

Lena S.
Lena S7 years ago

Excellent points, Paul. How quickly we forget....the Chileans have suffered greatly, and their determination is evident in their history. VIVA CHILE!

paul block

"Supplanted". Sorry