Standing Up for the World

How many people need to stand up in order to create positive change on our planet?  Change is usually initiated by one insight or action. Movements begin with one or a few who care about this change.

h042luminousearth-5x7s-1      I admit I have never been an activist. As someone who has spent most of my life caring for family, college and career, preoccupied with personal growth  and spiritual realization, while living in comfort, I can recognize easily how much effort it takes to let go of personal concerns long enough to become involved in the greater picture of planetary and political issues.  Most Americans are busy with daily challenges and experiences, both positive and negative, and feel they have little energy or interest left for the bigger needs of the collective, hoping somehow our political structures will support us, since that is felt to be their job. I believe the majority feel, as I have often felt, they can help a person one on one, to get what they need, but trying to support the overwhelming greater needs of the planet seems both exhausting and impossible.

            All the ordinary and self-serving activities of my own life have happened with the backdrop of WW2 (as an infant), Korea (as a college student), the Civil Rights Movement,  the women’s movement, and Vietnam (as a  young mother), the Gulf War , and invasion of Iraq, the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy, the shooting of Martin Luther King, nuclear proliferation and numerous other tragedies of human interaction based on the delusion we are separate and must fight and eliminate one another.  I remember when we bought our first tv, and as an adolescent watching with horror films from WW2 showing the release of those few who survived the concentration camps. I remember watching the killing of Sirhan Sirhan iive on tv as I was ironing one morning shortly after JFK’s death.  I have watched the increase of violence – or at least our awareness of it – grow exponentially as our media became more sophisticated. And in the shadows of this most of us continue to lead ordinary lives.

            Today our world problems appear to be random terrorism, environmental degradation and threat, challenges to our educational opportunities and scientific integrity, the pressing needs of immigrants, corporate profits displacing human needs, challenges in healthcare, and the possible disappearance of jobs as technology advances.  And once again we are people in a cultural values division. Distrust of government, and fear of its impact on our personal lives is uprooting our peace of mind.  The challenges change but the cultural anxiety stays the same.

            Today we are more aware of what is happening everywhere, thanks to the web, and people are marching and writing, and pulling themselves away from their personal concerns to seek a voice in the larger collective.  Many average citizens are choosing to run for office. Sometimes those who speak up are met with harsh resistance, or the indifference of those who carry power.  But we humans are the web of society and we need to connect and interact for the good of the whole, and in many places this consciousness of our larger role in our society is starting to rise.

            Indigenous cultures thought and acted from a collective field for the welfare of the community.  Our great modern accomplishment of individualization has left in its shadow our capacity for awareness of and compassion for the whole.  Our inability to recognize that we are rooted in One consciousness, One source, no matter our intellectual theories about its nature, divides us into separate camps and identifications, and allows us to witness tragedy without much response, unless it is happening in our own neighborhood.

            But slowly we are beginning to recognize that what happens in one region of the world profoundly impacts all others.  We may still feel helpless at times to be a corrective force when greed and anger and violence emerge like a hurricane or volcanic eruption in the human experience, but it is harder to be unaffected and unmoved.

            It appears that every great movement or great invention arose through the insight of one person who inspired a small group and instigated a new perspective.

Every political, psychological, educational, spiritual theory,  and every new invention from the wheel to the automobile to the internet emerged from the smallest imaginative thought in one or a few creative minds or hearts.  Everything begins with one and expands (sometimes more slowly than we wish) into the world of thought and then into manifestation.  We think of it as genius when we like the ideas, and as horrors when they cause destruction.

            If you believe you are moved through spirit, what is the one thing you have to contribute to the world?  Is it an idea, a service, a movement from love, a potential that can help the life of a few or someday, perhaps many.  Find your own unique skill, something that moves you from the heart, and find a simple way to express it. If every one does one action for the good of the whole, the forces of good will outweigh the forces that cause suffering and pain.

Light and dark, joy and suffering, will always be part of this human experience, and the challenges bring many of us into personal searching for freedom and self-realization.  But this movement to awaken cannot be limited to the personal life – not if there is one consciousness under all experience or one source.  If you are clearing yourself from your personal suffering you are also clearing your lineage, opening new possibilities for the next generation.  If you will find the one thing for which you have the time and talent to contribute to the welfare of the whole, you will become part of  the future health and wellbeing of the planet.  We each need to release our self from fear and avoidance of the world, and bring the strength of our true nature , which holds love and creativity,  into the world we share.

Advertisements

Awakening and Engagement

      Like many of you, I am thinking more of politics these days, and concerned about the impact on millions of lives as our leadership in Washington undergoes major changes.  I wonder within a non- dual perspective if I can offer a useful response to decisions (or for this moment, threats) that seem to undermine the health and well-being of the whole – our country and our planet. Non-duality, a perspective that points out how all that we live and experience is transient or impermanent, encourages us to find inner peace by being fully present and non-resistant to what is.  This implies that non-attachment is relevant to inner realization. But does this mean non-engagement as well?h042luminousearth-5x7s-1

       What I have seen in those who are awakening is not only the awareness of no separate self but the realization of one universal Self.  This brings the opening of the heart, the expansion of compassion and sensitivity, and the realization that all of us are One beingness united eternally with all of life.  There can be the sense that as individuals we are nothing but vibration, but as awareness/consciousness we are everything. What awakens is the realization of connectedness with All and what dissolves (often this is gradual) is belief in separateness.  As forms we appear separate and have unique experiences but as consciousness we are All. In Buddhism many take vows to incarnate over and over until all of humanity is awake.  In Hinduism it is understood our spirit returns over and over burning away karma until we realize we are One with all. In the heart of Christianity is the understanding that we should love one another as ourselves, and in Islam is the teaching that God is all things.

           But our religions do not protect us from our failings, our fears and our habits of separation. Human minds tend to be preoccupied with “me”, an illusion of spirit  evolving from the moment of birth and hardened through our life experiences and conclusions.  The sense of being part of the whole collapses under the pressure of personal survival, fears, cultural beliefs, and desires. This is our human condition, not to be judged but to be understood.

         Awakening does not free us from our human experience, but it can give us an opportunity to see these experiences with clarity and objectivity, and release their impact on us..  It is not a freedom from any need to respond in our world, but a freedom to respond without fear and with no attachment to results.  It is a freedom to move from love rather than rage, to seek truth rather than conditioned belief.

         Within this framework what can we do when we feel in our heart a need to respond to political positions that cause harm to others?  Thousands may march but in the end these massive displays of the longing of people seems to have little impact on our politicians, who seem to be far removed from mainstream concerns.  But if each of these thousands of people, and the millions who identify with their concerns but are not called to march, chose one heartfelt cause to support or a few congressman to write weekly, there could be a groundswell of letters, phone calls, volunteers, and other activities to slowly shift the country into an America for all. 

         Looking at the whole picture can feel overwhelming and most of us feel helpless to influence those who make the big decisions.  But each of us can have an influence on a few others, and if millions of us speak up from compassion for humanity rather than fear and anger there will in time be a rebalancing of our political priorities.  We can each choose a cause to advocate for or raise funds for if we see government funds being withdrawn. We can each find in our uniqueness what we can contribute.

        We are living in a time of great upheaval and change throughout the planet – politically, environmentally, economically and spiritually.  But if you look at history there have been huge upheavals in every century.  This is our century and each spirit brings a perspective, a message, a potential for evolution.  If you are awakening now and touching your own authentic connection with Source, and seeking what your heart would have you do in this lifetime, then listen to your deepest longings for the world and the humanity in it, and find your own unique gift – it doesn’t need to be dramatic, just a movement that is true for you. You are not abandoning your true nature by engaging in service to life and others. Instead of being burdened by fear and angst and all the other mental resistances that arise, let go of yourself at a deeper level, and ask what you would like to do, what you can contribute to making this day better or this world better for someone else.  This, to me, is the embodiment and manifestation of non-dual realization.