Mankind - a View
Mankind has a story. From the written word, from the cave paintings, from the structures of our civilizations we have recorded our progress from the beginning to the present. For some our story is fixed in sacred documents. For others it is written in the DNA of all life and recorded in fossil records unearthed by those who seek to find our links to the past. Many years have passed from the beginning and many times the story has been altered, but the real story is in the messages, in the way to live, to honor the beginning and see it through to the end whatever that end may be.
We believe so many different things it is hard to understand what core truths are real or why each of us seems to need the certainty of the one true truth. This need to be right causes no end of conflicts and confusion. On the one hand we are flexible, searching and view life with a creative imagination. On the other had we are fixed, rigid and unyielding in our beliefs, even when faced with new information that brings our beliefs into question. We are almost prideful when we refuse to accept new information and remain locked into yesterdays interpretation of reality, into our unsupportable belief systems.
We are, plainly and simply, just a little crazy. And there is ample evidence to support this, outrageous to some, claim.
The Baptists, the Catholics, the Muslims all have the one true religion. Capitalism is the one true economic system, consumption and the free market let the best rise to the top, for a while. Nation States pride themselves on their ethnic, cultural and religious foundations. Global management is a dirty concept but sharing the responsibility for quality of life for all slams into the walls of self interest, Dictatorships, and National interests. Democracy plus Capitalism, in the beginning, raises everyone up, but as time goes by the foundation is eroded, self reliance is turned over to the government, those who serve begin to serve only themselves, and the country slips into welfare, government largess and the squeaky wheel. What needs to be done to revitalize the institutions lies chained beneath the stone cold weight of elections and pure self interest. The original concepts and ideals are corrupted and the guiding instructions for governance are splattered with mud and slowly revised out of existence.
In the face of these paradoxes we are helpless. The wealthy buy their way into the system and the poor vote to retain entitlements. The wealthy are labeled as voracious plunderers of the system and the poor are labeled as lazy, poor decision makers and feed off of the productivity of others. There is just enough truth in these opinions to allow their propagation without a strong defence possible. Each segment of society grows their own identity and then proceeds to build the institutional edifices that preserve their character, and permit their growth. This is very nutsy behavior.
Unless we fly above we see only the road ahead, our daily footprints leaving little for us to understand. We cannot see the future and our past is riddled with untruths. We have only this moment, and our imagination. Fear and suffering often accompany us on our journey. It is confusing and full of paradox. For on the one hand there is joy in living, but on the other hand much pain. For one there is bounty, for another the scattered remnants of food left uneaten.
The many views each of us carry in our hearts and minds, on how to live, how to survive, how to belong, how to separate, are conflicted. Do we lift up only ourselves or do we lift up the human race. Do we honor all of creation or only that which is ours. Do we feel the responsibility for life or only for our own. Failure in these conflicting views is full of pain for now and for those in the future not yet here. There can be no success for all if our focus rests only within. The mantra of our societies is self reliance, competition, winning and losing. As our numbers increase we demand more from our planet. Soon the limitations of supply and demand become apparent to all, for some resources are limited and some resources are destroyable. We have not yet found a way to create what we do not have. We have not yet found the way to unpollute. The tainted water brings misery and death.
Religion seeks in one respect to lift our hearts and show us the way to salvation and yet on the other hand it demands strict adherence to achieve these ends. It is confusing for the story of our beginning deems us unworthy as though our creator did not understand the process of creating, nor the possible outcome. We are conflicted on how to honor both the creation itself and the creator. To place ourselves above all else seems inappropriate, to feel unworthy trivializes the awe and mystery of creation. The very part of us that is paradoxical and self serving is only the beginning. The part of us that can and does enter directly into the mystery is our path of growth and maturity. That both are necessary reflects the wisdom of the creator, that both are understood to be an integral part of who we are and what we are to become is somewhat lost in translation.
This is the craziness. Either we understand the very unique set of conditions that allowed life to begin and rejoice in that understanding or we accept unworthiness and wait for salvation. This comment alone is heretical in the eyes of many. But to create an existence on this planet that honors our own lives and all other life requires both a sense of responsibility and accountability. We either accept the power given us to shape our lives to the fullest, to maximize our potential or we accept unworthiness, accept suffering, accept our own inclinations to do great harm. We have many example of both in our societies. It may be time to focus on the former and let the latter fall into disuse.
The guide books spent all their time in reigning in an unruly, chaotic and unpredictable species. the premise is always we need to be governed, we need to understand our unworthiness, we need rules to guide our behavior, or, we run amok. Yes we destroy and kill for the worst reasons that any creator could have imagined: you have what I want or need, you believe differently than I do, You look differently than I do, and best of all you are inferior to me. To be a little nicer, the context of each generation has been different. Each period had a world view that was defined by their understanding of the world they lived in. It was not until the pictures of the Universe entered the lives of all that we began to grasp the immensity and awesome nature of the Universe. We became part of something vast, mysterious and yet a little understandable. We are special. Not just us but all life. We are part of something so awesome that we have to revisit our purpose and role. It is time to grow up.
The Paradox (Bad things happen to good people)
There is no way around it. It defies our understanding. A child dies. A half a million people die because they disagree with the other half. A dictator kills thousands to keep the rest subdued. A tornado destroys a town. A tsunami wipes out thousands of miles of shoreline and all those who could not get to high ground. A son and daughter lose their parents. A spouse has an affair and all trust is broken. And sooner or later we all die. No explanation can relieve the heartbreak or eliminate the confusion that painful reality brings to our doorstep.
If I tell you that salvation comes after death, that suffering tests our faith, that our pain molds the clay into a diamond. One of us has to be crazy. If I am a little off for suggesting such a viewpoint, maybe you are a little off for considering it. The point is there are no logical answers and outside of extreme faith there are no answers. We can cross words all day long but the reality of our predicament on this planet cannot be explained away. So, what do we do?
First lets talk a little about what we can do. What exactly is under our control, or better, what is we can do to survive with grace and dignity, any experience.
If I am only my self image or ego, then anything that happens that does not support me, injures me. I cannot avoid pain and if I dwell in my own house separate from all else, I cannot avoid suffering. "Why me" will always arise in my mind and the injustice of it all will cloud my perspective and sense of self for as long as I stay there.
"the injustice of it all". We blame our spouse, we blame others, we shout at God "why have you allowed this, why did you not do something!". The answer is, there is no answer that is not conflicted or a complete paradox or totally contradictory. I for one have never found it easy to let go of the bad stuff. Some of it still hangs around after all these years. So, do I have anything constructive to offer or is this just doom and gloom with no redeeming value.
It was not until I let go of my own idea of a separate self that was at the mercy of injury from others or circumstance that something important happened. I became part of the big picture. Maybe just an intsy, bitsy, teenie little part, but a part none the less. I was no longer an object to be injured but an active and responsible member of the "web of life". That and the introduction of the witness or observer as part of my "level of awareness" I began to respond to what was in front of me at it was and not as I wanted or did not want it to be.
If I focus on this moment i get a lot more out of it. If I focus on yesterday I lose a little of today and if I focus on tomorrow I also lose a little of today. If I focus on today and get better and better at it there comes a time when "There are no ordinary moments" no matter what what the experience of today is. Of course this does not mean you cannot learn from the past or prepare for the future. What it does mean is that dwelling in the past or the future takes your focus off the present and you miss stuff, a lot of stuff. A grandchild smiling up at you because she or he feels your love. A lie from someone trying to manipulate your emotions. A person walking on the side of the road. The source of that feeling of saddness, anger, love or fear. The connectedness all around you as you watch the bees and butterflies share the lagustrum flowers along the fence row. There is a lot to be aware of.
Lets have some fun with the possibilities g
Many teachers, book writers, seminar leaders try to teach us to change our way of thinking. "Change your thoughts, change your mind", "Change your mind, change your life", "A paradigm of living is a boundary and a limitation", "Your unconscious can be your best friend or your worst enemy", "You are not who you think you are", "Life is a journey, not a destination", "Believe in your dream, dream the impossible", "let go, let go. let go, and experience the best you can be".
Everyone knows We are not right in the head. Everyone knows there are haves and have nots, there are poor, disadvantaged, and wealthy people. We have leaders that do not care and leaders that believe we are too stupid or incompetent to make our own decisions, our own choices. Some want to buy their next election by giving away free stuff and /or increasing our dependence on the Central Government. Some leaders fight to stop this onslaught on our freedom and our liberty. But, when the number of people who look to the Central Government for all of their needs exceeds 50% of the population the power will shift and we will have a serious fight on our hands.
So, what is my dog in this fight. Have I helped the poor, published a book deploring our state of affairs, joined an organization to defend a cause, fought back against this tide of stupidity in some way recognizable? No. Nor will I in the future.
You see i believe that the real source of important change is not the "war on poverty", "war on crime", "war on terror". The real source of change is not feeding the poor, stealing from the wealthy to allow everyone to have their fair share, or inventing a new political system to govern from a central authority. It is not finding the one great truth that we can all live by. Even if we are sucked into the dark hole of an administrative nanny state, no matter how long it lasts, its end will come and we will cycle again through the pain of this stupidity and emerge into a new era of freedom. So,what again do I believe?
That the buck stops here. That we are responsible for our choices. That we can understand our gifts and bring real change to every person on this planet. That we own our response to life's experience. That we can let go of the idea we are not in charge of our state of mind, our attitude, our belief about who and what we are.
We can learn from the past but we do not have to be bound and tethered by the past. We can peer into the future, plan for a possible tomorrow but we do not have to live there. We can live here, in the present and tap all of our resources. What are they?
* Our abilty to create an observer, the one who notices.
* The ability to increase our awareness so that we notice more and more
* The ability to interrcept the emotions of the past as they arise from our unconscious and let them go
* The ability to set a goal, set its importance, and give our unconscious enough information to provide us with an answer
* the Ability to live with the unknown and be guided by our intuitive self
* The ability to imagine anything
* the abillity to transform and become a new person with compassion, understanding and an awareness level that goes beyond our old selves to live more and more intensely in the present.
* The ability to live with the idea that we are a discovering species and that our truth of the day will alter over time as we learn and discover new realities, new paradigms of living, new facts that change our cosmic view.