|One problem faced by many of
us who are awakening to the parlous state of the world is how to deal
with the sense of dread that is an almost instinctive response to the
gravity of the crisis facing humanity.
Comprehending the crisis in all its awful majesty can unleash a despair
that bubbles up like a mud volcano from the depths of the soul. For
many it blots out the sun, obliterating any possibility of hope.
The saving realization, which often comes from a combination of diligent thought and a stroke of grace, is that all people, all life, indeed every element of the universe, is profoundly and inextricably interconnected. Nothing can exist without everything else. There are no islands in this universe.
With that awareness comes the question of how to respond to these two apparently antithetical understandings, since the underlying reasons for the dread don't simply evaporate in the light of hope. After all, the fish are still gone, the planet still has a fever, the soil and water are still contaminated.
There are those who awaken to the dread but cannot find the hope, and so join what I call the "canned food and ammo crowd". They act decisively to shield themselves from the risks, by moving to secluded locations and stockpiling goods so that they can minimize the need to connect with the world around them. In the 1950s they built bomb shelters, today they hoard drums of rice and beans in the basement. They have always made me uncomfortable.
Like so many, I live with both an apprehension of inevitable doom and an awareness of infinite promise, each of which exists in its own orthogonal domain. I feel an atavistic urge to hide from the coming changes and the people who may be the vector of so much misery. At the same time I feel a progressive urge to find my tribe and continue my development, while remaining in some way independent of the herd.
As I walk my path, I am coming to understand my distinct lack of enthusiasm for physically separating myself from the herd. I have found that I want to stay embedded within the mass of humanity for a couple of reasons.
The main reason is that if we who are awakening are in fact humanity's "imaginal cells", spreading our awareness and influence through viral infection of our neighbours, then separating ourselves from them defeats that possibility. If we and all of our billions of our brothers and sisters are to have any hope at all, it can only come from transforming that mass of humanity, not in running from it. Cultural evolution is only possible through participation. It is obvious (to me at least) that those of us who feel called to be vision keepers cannot communicate our vision by shouting through walls of our own construction. We must stand inside our audience, taking our place as co-creating members of it, so that as we whisper gently to those around us we do it as a part of humanity, not apart from it.
The second reason is more pragmatic than philosophical. In a world of 6.7 billion people, there simply is no "away" any more. The tide of humanity has lapped into every nook and cranny of the planet. Any attempt to isolate ourselves will be doomed from the outset. If we cannot escape the madding crowd, we are much better off making a virtue of necessity by using this inescapable interaction as an opportunity for connection.
As I travel on my journey I will try to limit the influence of the mainstream masses – carrying as they do the messages of our guardian institutions – on my psychological and spiritual development. However, I will deliberately make no such effort to shield my physical being. That, as I understand it, is the way of the bodhisattva -- and we are all bodhisattvas now.
May 21, 2009
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