Tuesday, February 3, 2009

End of the World

I have to give this a nod. Then we will be focusing on other things.

There is plenty of ongoing evidence to suggest that life may be getting difficult soon, if it hasn't already, on pretty much every level for most of us. The global financial snapshot is terrible; social unrest appears to be on the rise (like lava, in a few places, and possibly sea levels). The plot is thickening, and this is just the news! Never mind precognitive dreams, which are featuring lots of heaving earth and not much Eden. Yet.

The collective psyche, the big dream, appears to be getting nightmarish. There are stories of personal and national disaster, pending wars and even planetary destruction. It's enough to make a person sick...if bird flu hasn't already nailed you!

Thanks largely to the internet, it's almost impossible to be in denial about world events anymore. It is also possible to be overwhelmed and downright scared. Our stories create our experience, both personally and collectively. When structures start falling, it's easy to react with fear and to attempt to predict the future in any way you can. But spending all your spare time trying to imagine your way out of the demise of your relationship, bank account, home loan or job has limited benefit. Yes, it's good to picture a worst-case scenario, so commonsense responses can be allowed and implemented. Do what you can to ease concerns in a practical way, whatever that means to you. And then...let it go.

The truth is, if you insist upon thinking in terms of "the future", some creativity and flexibility are called for. Imaginary futures are multiple; conversely, no future exists, except perhaps as a possibility. As many sages have pointed out, now is all there is. In the face of all the frantic storytelling we do when panic begins, I am advocating a drastic return to simplicity.

In other words, if you are hungry, cold or homeless, seek out food, clothing and shelter. If you are furious, find a non-destructive way to express that energy. Be pro-peace instead of anti-war, for instance...by example. It's pointless to violently blame people for the mess we're in. Please give what you expect to receive--basic things, like aid and respect.

If you have done everything practical you can think of, and you are still hungry, cold, homeless and in despair, chances are good that you lose nothing by dropping the despair. There is always something beautiful to be found, somewhere, even if it exists (you may believe) purely in your mind. Look for it. Appreciate it.

Oddly enough, and contrary to popular belief, a real absence of hope is not a direct road to hell. When things get really bad, natural health points toward shedding layers of built-up conditioning and unconscious patterns. "Hope" is a word used mostly to express a desire to stay in the status-quo. At the most basic, real level, there is no such thing as hope--just a simple and spontaneous instinct toward health and growth. When the body experiences illness, it doesn't sit around saying, "I hope I feel better." It gets busy on repair, with or without medical intervention, the best way it knows how. (We can and do thwart that process with our deep unwillingness to be conscious of why we are sick in the first place.)

Sometimes, dropping artificial hope is shedding the "psychology of previous investment", which entails a desperate clinging to a former way of being because of the amount of time and energy spent "getting there". Admitting that life just isn't the same, accepting that fact, is not a passive defeat or lack of optimism. It is, instead, touching the stream of what's real. A former hope of staying within a particular comfort zone gives way to a new, clear space where anything is possible, and fear no longer runs the show. The mental cup, holding everything you thought you knew and everything you took for granted, tips and spills its contents so that there is room for something less restrictive.

In that bare moment, something more than hope is revealed...it is faith, sufficient in itself, not dependent on anything "out there". It's the simple acknowledgment of the way it is, and the fact that no amount of pessimism or fear makes any difference. Some people say there is such a thing as "healthy" fear. My experience is that, when fear crosses a line between defensive behavior and positive action, it is no longer fear. The energy becomes something else entirely, with a different trajectory. An expansion happens, like a good flood. Things get done, with the intention of assisting the welfare of all concerned rather than the welfare of the self-image.

There are days where I have to consciously "strip down" to this simple faith over and over again...but not many, fortunately. I have become very comfortable with what I truly am; consequently, the beauty of this life, even in hardship, is evident whenever I care to look. Standing outside in my dormant garden, I look at the line between shadow and sunlight, moving, melting frost by infinitesimal degrees. The planet is turning in a relative way, unconcerned with the human political situation. My heart is beating and brain functioning in just such a perfect manner. That's all.

Duality, dichotomy, is always 50/50. The story of this life is just as beautiful as it is ugly, just as good as it is evil, and equally plotted and spontaneous. That's the way we must speak of it to have any balance in the psyche. Underneath the story, no balance is necessary, because there are no edges upon which we teeter or thin threads to hang by. There is a terribly simple, timeless, nonlinear, inexplicably open embrace.

When all else fails, even before then, let it have you.

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