Beyond Despair: No Mistakes

July-August 2018

Beyond Despair

On a national and international political level what I see happening is deeply distressing. An alarming number of elected leaders seem to be looking the other way as government policies, civil rights and long-held diplomatic norms are brushed aside, as if they have no value. Evidence abounds about possible foreign influence on elections in several countries. Even old alliances and friendships among progressive democracies are at risk. While widespread protests occur frequently at the grassroots level, there are only emasculated “checks and balances” operating at the governmental level. Big money entities are able circumvent regulations about buying influence, monopolizing markets and consolidating their power.  It seems that many elected leaders are so narrow-mindedly focused on justifying their own behavior and blaming everybody else that they appear unable to grasp the gravity of the situation let alone articulate possible constructive ways to move forward past the present morass.

Looking for signs of hope and wanting to keep up with what’s happening, I read news publications, talk with friends and offer a smile and greeting to others in the local community as I go about my weekly routines.  Although one doesn’t hear much of anything about it in the media, the regular people I meet face to face on a daily basis exhibit kindness and generosity to each other.

What to make of all this?

Most everyone wants to stay informed about what is going on in the world around them —it’s a basic survival trait. In today’s world people are able to choose from a plethora of news sources—print, radio, television and the information super highway.  The pervasiveness of the global internet has reorganized the way we receive and process information in ways that are both wondrous and foul.  Right before our unwitting eyes, the internet posts news sites and pop-ups that have a nefarious purpose to incite fractiousness, bigotry and hatred. It’s an invasion — only in this instance there are no tanks or millions of ground soldiers—now it’s cyber warfare. Why bother to crack the strength of the nation from without if you can surreptitiously sow dissension within, through pitting various factions against each other? It’s an old game with fresh weapons.

And our collective response? Are we on a devolving cycle in terms of our political consciousness or is this a wake-up call? What portion of the “we” will hold sway as we move forward? Good questions.

From a personal place, what is my optimal stance as I live in these times? I’ve suffered an attack as well.  My ability to hold steadfast to my former inner guidance system has been shaken. There are times I could just go curl up in a small, walled off part of myself and lament. And while lamenting is an apt initial emotional response, I am reminded that the world of politics has always been a place of treachery as well as social progress.

The place where I can affect something positive begins in the privacy of my heart and soul. There I can open into relationship with my deeper self, an enduring awareness that is both subject to the laws of planetary life as well as spiritually cosmic. At this level I know I’m interconnected with everything— the problems, the solutions and the potential for ever-expanding relationships that honor the wholeness of life—this is my true field of being.

The poet Rumi once said,

                        Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,

                        there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

                        When the soul lies down in that grass

                        the world is too full to talk about.

                        Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

                        doesn’t make any sense.

Inspired by those words, I’m doing what I can to bring my awareness to an inner meadow suffused with light, fertile ground, and divine inter-connection — music, meditation, reading inspiring prose and poetry, gardening, heartfelt times with others and writing from my most authentic self —those are the pathways that incorporate my soul’s knowing about offering a meaningful presence into these times. Shifting gears so that I enter “the field” requires a choice. But once in that place I become aware that I was born for these times! My ego-self may feel under siege, but my deeper soul-self is emboldened to express the wellsprings of life that endure despite the chicanery of politics and power.

During a recent phone conversation about the state of things, my friend Peg threw in this comment: “There are no mistakes!”.  Crazy at it sounds at first, her remark points to another level of awareness from which it is clear that life affirming adaptations emerge out of dire circumstances.  Impermanence and suffering accompany all life. Was it a “mistake” that the collision of a giant asteroid with planet earth wiped out the ancient dinosaurs? Ask the songbird at a nearby bird feeder. Was it a “mistake” that Jesus suffered the kind of death that he did and then, by virtue of his relationship with Divine Source, demonstrated his inherent expansive transcendence, gave profound wisdom teachings and utilized the power of love to work miracles?  Ask the billions who embrace his example and wisdom.

Clearly, in our humanity alone we are vulnerable. None of us is immune to the alarming weather of our current circumstances. However, at the same time that many of us despair about the appearance of massive fault lines in modern democracy and civilized life among diverse peoples, we can also feel the emergence of strong currents of moral outrage, compassion and longing to bring a higher level of accountability into the public sphere. It’s all going on at once— The Holy Spirit coupled with the presence of Divine Love and Creation interpose themselves into physical pain and suffering in the long journey of life all the time.

As all major spiritual teachers have demonstrated — living from essential awareness is something we can bring forth from our depths into the world around us. Buddha could have chosen to remain in the palace, living the gilded life of a prince. Jesus could have gone into hiding instead of stepping forward into his radical demonstration that suffering and physical death could not splinter his connection with the breathing life of all that nurtures and sustains us.

We are more than just our confusion, lamentations and pain. Each of us belongs to something much larger than our earthly identifications of politics, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic class, and country. We are part and particle of life slowly coming to realize the full promise of itself. From this perspective nothing is a mistake, only grist for the mill — the milling process is ongoing. It is the wisdom of this perspective that emboldens the journey to move beyond despair and surface delusions into a fullness of understanding.  From this place may we all be guided to claim what is ours to bring into the thick of what’s happening right now.