In the midst of all the storm and fury following the revolutionary election of 2016, what emerges for me is how alienated many of us have become from our fellow souls who are sharing this human journey with us.
Cyberspace is brimming over with epithets. Snarky comments, attributions of evil, condemnation and judgment of even slight differences have inflamed our civic discourse. Families and friendships have torn asunder under the weight of vitriolic assertions and accusations. It is a raging free-for-all. It is interesting how much energy has been evoked and released, how “awakened” and “activated” people now feel they have become – because they don’t like the current reality as it is articulated to them by a highly slanted media. They personalize the political angst and it becomes fear, sadness, rage – a loss of self-identity that disorients and, in some cases, deranges.
Most of us, as individuals, have little to no influence on unfolding events. Yet we treat each other as if that other person is personally responsible for all of our frightening expectations. Once triggered, intense energy eruptions magnify what is ordinarily manageable into a state of threat of indescribable proportions. And so everyone seems a little crazed, which just makes things seem more unstable and scary.
This too shall pass. Humans rarely maintain such high energy states for long. They are exhausting, and ordinary life tasks and duties soon intrude. The manic high energy state is typically followed by a depressed, despairing low energy state. The key to both is a lack of reality-testing due to the magnified emotional states that perceived loss has generated. Both need to subside before one can even begin to return to a more centered, grounded and realistic perspective.
History teaches us that the pendulum always swings between left and right, north and south, freedom and oppression, liberal and conservative, and all other polarities on this dualistic planet where life exists between two opposite poles. Even the earth itself, in the course of a year, wobbles first to the north (winter in the northern hemisphere) and then the south (summer). This is a natural rhythm of life, not some inexplicable anomaly. The lesson is: if you don’t like what’s happening now, just wait a while – the pendulum always swings back. The momentum to the left has reached its peak and is now in decline. In time, the same thing will happen with the new momentum to the right. Patience, grasshoppers.
There is a way to transcend the wobble, to enter into a state of overall equanimity however the pendulum swings. It is a simple act of consciousness. However, it is not easy at all to accomplish, requiring will and commitment free of excess emotionality and sentiment. It is not a state of apathy, where one simply gives up in defeat. Rather, it is a deliberate shift in perspective which leads to a shift in perception.
What lies beyond – encompasses – the polarities that so engage us? Some call it the 30,000-foot view. Others call it Divine Order. Whatever it is called, it is an expansion of personal consciousness that both transcends (goes beyond the immediate circumstance) and includes (does not reject or deny any existential fact). It embraces the totality of the present moment with an awareness that recognizes wholeness in the current interplay of lights and shadows. It is an awareness that rests on the axis, peacefully contemplating the spinning wheel of life revolving around it.
So how do we get there? Meditation. Contemplation. First, remove yourself from all stimulation, both exterior and interior so that you inhabit silence without and within. The inner silence is trickier, as thoughts and feelings tend to turn up the volume when we try to tune them out. Let the thoughts go, as if they are a noisy flock of birds now flapping away in a distant sky. Let your emotions settle, subside by noticing them, naming them to yourself, and then just letting them be. Secondly, having become quiet within and without, bring your attention to your heart or the center of your being. Be still. Be inwardly silent. Just be, here and now, as the Zen aphorism advises: vacant and spiritual, empty and marvelous.
No longer identified with the ongoing barrage of thoughts and feelings, a spaciousness opens up that allows your perspective to shift from being immersed in chaos to a broader and deeper perception of reality as it is. In that perception, a new light begins to shine on the very same elements that before appeared so alarming. What was deplorable now appears to be a natural manifestation of an ever-changing reality. The dynamics of the dance of life are remembered and affirmed. On a personal level, you may not be comfortable with some of them, but they no longer appear unthinkable. Whatever is, is life unfolding, moving through its cycles and seasons.
As you peacefully sit with the panorama of life unfolding around you, another shift may occur. That new light takes on a warmth that goes beyond just accepting circumstances – once perceived as deplorable – as normal fluctuations that actually serve to move life along. This warm light reveals an inherent order, beauty, even magnificence in the great drama of the human story – and in your own story, as well. That warm light, emanating from the awakened heart, bathes all things and all beings with a loving glory that renders them adorable. The world is now your basket of adorables.
Does that mean that you ignore the shadows of injustice, cruelty, abuse? Not at all. What does change is that you act on them from a different internal state. Free of emotionality and sentiment, you can engage with clarity, competence, effectiveness and compassion. Your actions do not fuel inflammatory responses; but rather bring a calmness that centers, grounds, and restores civility. When you see what’s adorable and connect from there, you will evoke a similar response in those you meet. In that connection, peace emerges and life renews spontaneously.
Let there be light.