“All of us have had the experience of a sudden joy that came when nothing in the world had forewarned us of its coming – a joy so thrilling that if it was born of misery, we remembered even the misery with tenderness.” – – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from “Wind, Sand And Stars”
Eckhart Tolle tells the story of a woman with terminal cancer he was counseling during the last three months of her life. He came to her home one day to find her in great distress and anger. The diamond ring handed down to her by her grandmother was missing, and she was convinced the nurse who looked after her a few hours each day had stolen it. After some time passed, Tolle reminded her that she would have to let it go soon anyway. He then asked her a few questions, among them “Will you become less when you let go of it?” and “Has who you are become diminished by the loss?” At first her answer to both was a resounding “yes.” As the two sat in silence for a while she told Tolle that when she tried to feel her answer rather than think about it, she started to feel her “I am-ness.” Hardly a state of being diminished, but one of feeling alive and at peace. The feeling increased until she died peacefully three months later. When the woman’s mother let Tolle know that his client had died, she also informed him that while cleaning out her kitchen cabinet they found a diamond ring. Perhaps it was stolen and put back. Or it may have been there the whole time.
Like it or not, what we’re seeing in the world today is a reflection of our mass consciousness. Not just Republicans or Democrats, not only Russians or Chinese or Mexicans, and not only people from Lilliput. All of us. And whose responsibility is it to make changes? Surely, vote when you get a chance. Another thing to consider is the answers given when two spiritual luminaries were asked rather pointed questions. The Dalai Lama was once asked if he ever got angry because of what was going on in his country. He answered, “Yes, but that is because I am lazy in my work.” When Ho oponopono teacher Dr Hew Len (think “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you” chant) was asked what he thought of the condition of the world, he paused and then said “Yes – I have a lot of cleaning to do.” While politicians may make convenient targets (I’m sure not exempting myself here) the fact remains that whatever behavior they exhibit that bothers me is triggered by a similar trait in myself. Will asking a Higher Power to remove those defects from me resolve the worlds wars and other issues? Doubtful. But it just may make my own mind more peaceful. And the minds of those around me. It just may allow me to “carry the message” of the peace I’m feeling to a frantic world and have a ripple effect.
In the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” there is a scene in which the police commissioner is watching a presidential news conference on television with a young policeman. As Gotham City is being held hostage by the villain Bain and his crew, the president finishes his speech by saying “We do not negotiate with terrorists.” The young cop turns to the commissioner and says “What does that mean?” to which Commissioner Gordon replies, “It means we’re on our own.” Many of us saw POTUS react to a reporter asking him to reassure millions of scared Americans by attacking the reporter himself. Many of us wondered why he couldn’t answer a simple question. But he actually did answer. What I heard him say was his oft repeated “I’m scared.” But I also heard him say “You’re on your own.” I’ve heard it many times with different words.
The last half mile of my six mile run tonight was littered by messages of hope in sidewalk chalk. One was the chorus of George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun,” the other Jesse Colin Young’s “Get Together” (“come on peoples now, smile on your brother . . . “). What a beautiful sentiment in a difficult time. Yesterday while I ran I got more smiles, “hellos” and waves than any run I can remember in recent history. We are on our own. I see this as neither a “bad” thing or a “good” thing, but an opportunity to transcend both. In repeatedly accessing our highest possible thoughts and bringing the result of that outward, we bring into the world what may seem like a tiny change for the better, but one that may well change another persons life. As I struggled years ago to shed yet another layer in early recovery and felt like I belonged in a padded room, my old friend Jean told me “chaos precedes creation.” I have never forgotten that. At least not for very long.
Things often get worse before they get better. We are in a time of tremendous transition, but when you think about it, there have always been wars. There has always been a menacing disease that we eventually find a cure for. And then it mutates and we’re off to the races again or an entirely new one surfaces. There has always been gross inequality in wealth and people striving for it. There has always been starvation. It’s all part of our common dream. Our collective ego is insane and to try to explain it engenders more insanity. I’d rather let go of my diamond ring. Loosening attachment to it allows more space for Spirit to flow through. Ironically, I may find that the ring is still there. Those of you who remember the harmonic convergence may see this as a comparable time. A time of great change. Pray, meditate, spend time in nature, however you get there. Please go there often. Its up to each one of us. We are on our own. And we can do this.
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