Transition

Transition

A long time ago, I was told, “Do not be afraid of the spaces between existences (times of transition).  It will feel like you are dying, but you are not.”  I recall those nearly forgotten words now.

We are in a time of transition, one which affects us all and the Earth itself.  No matter the culture or philosophy one follows, a transition is a time of collapse or tearing down what exists – a time of chaos – and rebuilding in a new direction.  Women who have gone through childbirth are in an excellent place to understand this.  Childbirth involves pain and stress for both mother and child, although the memory of it fades as mother and child become bonded in a new way.  It is the tearing down of what was – one forming body existing inside another body – and a rebuilding in a new way, mother and child separated and unique but still bonded.  It can be a dangerous time, but still a time of great promise and blessing.  We are in such a time now, socially in relation to each other, and physically in relation to our Earth.  The outcome of this time depends on how we can connect with our spiritual roots and create with the energy we receive.

Some of us are longing for the time that was, and believe that if all of us just obey strictly the official rules, we can return to that time with which we were familiar and things will be the same as before.  Within that group, there is an almost desperate adamancy that everyone should obey official directions and behave consistently in lockstep; there is no space for disagreement.  These are the people that accost others in parking lots for not wearing masks, or who reprimand people in stores who stand a few inches off the six-feet marks.  They tend to speak in heroic terms of those who are telling us the rules. There is certainly value in consistency and cooperation, but this premise of mandatory sameness as a way of return to the past leads only to disappointment and more desperation.  We cannot return to the time that was.   It has retreated into the past and has already morphed into memory.  It had to go.  This is a time of transition.

There are also those – perhaps the majority of us – who are unsure if draconian rules are really necessary and are not sure if the virus – the precipitator of the transition – is as deadly as it is reported to be.  However, in the midst of chaos, feelings of exhaustion and a certain jadedness leave them too tired to make effort to change things.  These of us are content to ride things out and accept whatever may emerge.  There is a tendency here to hide one’s head in the sand, ostrich-like, and simply refuse to believe that what emerges can be anything else but acceptable.  Doesn’t humanity have all this wonderful technology to save us?   Haven’t things always settled down before?  The weak point here is apathy. The tendency is to follow along wherever we are led (which is usually by other humans).  That tendency leaves us quite vulnerable to anything that may come along, even things that may be regretted later.

Then there are those who are quite aware of the processes of using energy, and who see in this crisis of transition an opportunity to create something profitable for themselves.  These are usually people already in some position of power, often silent power, such as corporate and banking millionaires (I will not categorize by saying all), scientific masters at subduing nature, popular or Machiavellian political personages, even those who wear the mantle of philanthropy.  They are the forces behind the push for mandatory masks, universal vaccination with digital tracking, more use of technology to capture our actions, thoughts, health and finances, and A1 controlled social systems.    Although the central focus is, “What’s in it for me?”  (and that focus will be denied if challenged) they possess a refined knowledge of negotiation and collaboration among themselves.  They are powerful, and actively try to create what they want.

Among us are also those who engage in vigorous, visible and often violent resistance to what they understand lies beneath stories in the news and on the internet and the rules formed ostensibly to control the spread of the virus and create compliance within society as a whole.  “We have to prevent chaos,” the enforcers of law and order may say, but chaos is an integral part of transition.  The protestors see what may be coming; they see that what very possibly may be created is contrary to what most of us, awake or not, value and want.  They take to the streets, march and perhaps riot. They may attack those they see as the oppressors, use strong language, directly confront the wrongs they see, and try in any way they can to oppose.  They do not understand the energy.  Protests are initially useful to call attention to something; after that, they simply reinforce what we do not want.   The focus on the protest donates energy to the thing one is protesting.  It would be better to focus on creating and modeling the change which is desired.

Yet another group – few but growing – either possess or are quickly learning the skill of dancing with the ineffable energy which surrounds us all and from which we emerge.  These fellow humans recognize what is going on and are aware of the dangers humanity may be facing as a result of the outcome of the transition.  However, because they understand creative energy, life force, they refuse to donate energy to those things by giving them their attention.  They recognize what currently exists – the chaos and transition and the various energies contained within it – but refuse to join the worry about it.  This is different from the group that is too jaded to act, but who still maintain a level of worry.  This last group understands the necessity of remaining as upbeat as possible, and of responding with as much love and non-judgment as they can.  That doesn’t mean that they agree with everything or that they think anything goes. They simply refuse to directly oppose, and instead focus on modeling what they believe to be the most just or loving way they can.  They are also the ones who love the Earth and model what will heal her (and truly, thereby save us).

These are broad categories, and, because everything and everyone does not neatly fit into boxes, they are not strictly definitive.  However, they are good examples of the way various people are responding to the pandemic, the chaos, and the transition.  I think we can each recognize ourselves, at least a little bit, in these extremely broad outlines.   We are all helping to shape what comes from the transition.  There is not one of us who does not affect it.  The final result will emerge from our combined visions and actions, mixed together into a new manifestation.   Much of the result will come from those of us who understand energy; it will be reinforced by the attitudes and actions of those who do not.  Not one of us can truthfully say, “It’s not my responsibility.”  Not one of us can avoid choosing, actively or passively, a path.

Now, when there is time amidst the chaos, let us take time to reflect on the path we are choosing, the results which may emerge from that path, the talents we have and those skills we want or need to learn, who our allies will be, and whether or how we wish to benefit each other and the Earth.

If we do not like what uncover as we reflect, there is time still to consciously change to a stance we would rather have.   We are all able to do this, but releasing apathy is prerequisite to being able to consciously choose or change or create.  Let us wish each other well.

Peace,   Diane

Gratitude and Compassion

I grew up believing in the importance of giving, expressed both as putting forth energy to be productive and as charity by donation of time and resources to others in need.  I was taught that giving is greater than receiving, to always go the extra mile (being productive so that others would recognize my value), to exert effort to achieve and to maintain, and that giving is a position of power.  Sharing with siblings and others was also a given – it was “wrong” to withhold.  The best people were always givers.

In contrast, there was a certain shadow around the act of receiving.  We were made aware that, quite possibly when we received something, someone else had gone without.  There was guilt attached.  We were indebted to the giver and must always remember the person who had been kind enough to give something to us.  Often, that meant giving in to or obeying the giver.  Receiving implied that we were lacking or needy.  There was shame attached.  To accept charity was considered shameful. 

It was okay to “get” – especially if one was a boy.  “Getting” was a means to have what one needed or wanted by competing with others and putting out effort to achieve.  It was a way for goods and energy and esteem to come in other than by receiving without putting out the usually competitive effort.  It was a way of providing for oneself (and one’s family) without admitting any need for the help of others.  One earned what one had; therefore, it was not a gift.  We were to cultivate the qualities of self-reliance, rather than exhibit any kind of need, including politely refusing assistance when we could Although competition to “win” was encouraged, taking something away (as in snatching or stealing or deceiving) from someone else was not.   We should earn everything we got.

The result was an imbalance; it is an imbalance many of us share.  Our culture is more individualistic; it emphasizes self-reliance, pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.  The concept of cooperation is there, but the society itself is not particularly cooperative.  Most of us are familiar with giving, either as a duty or a self-esteem enhancing act, but do not know what it is to simply receive.  We are either one-sided, or we practice neither giving nor receiving very well.  

Here is a secret; giving and receiving are the heads and tails of the same coin.  One cannot give unless one has something one has first received to be given; the act of true giving opens one to receiving.  It is circular.  

Saints and sages, masters and mystics have for as long as people can remember exalted the qualities of gratitude and compassion.  The spiritually adept of all religions have practiced them, understanding that the qualities of gratitude and compassion are intimately connected.  They are on the same continuum.  Compassion is giving love in action; gratitude is opening oneself with love to receive.  It is not possible to practice compassion for long without also receiving, being filled with not only the motivating love to give, but also with the resources to do the giving.  Receiving money, one can give money; receiving skills, one can use those talents to help others; receiving knowledge or understanding, one can share those with others.   It is a circle, a continuous exchange within life.  We give, and we are given to.

When we look upon receiving as shameful, we block the flow of life through us.  I am deliberately using the term “receiving” as opposed to demanding, taking, feeling entitled to, or amassing.   Receiving is humble and relaxed, requiring no struggle to “get”.  It is trusting that the Universe, God, the One will provide what is needed, and then being open to perceive that we are being given to.  The trust and the perception are the basis of gratitude, the feeling of joy and well-being at being provided for.   We cannot be grateful if we do not perceive that we are being given to, or if we do not trust in that provision.

Mother Teresa is more known by what she gave to others.  Less is known about her trust and her acknowledgement that she was indeed provided for.  Somehow, what she needed would always come to her so that she could, in turn, give to others.  The circle was intact.

Giving, too, is a humble action.  Giving in order to increase one’s power or the esteem in which one is held or to increase our own inflow is not true giving, no matter the amount that may be put out.  Giving to charity intentionally in such a way that the gift is actually an investment which comes back in the form of increasing profits for companies in which one is invested is not really giving.  It is business.  True giving regards the gift as simply belonging to the receiver; it is a natural reaction to feeling compassion or a concern with justice.  It does not take a great deal of effort to do.

As a culture, we seem to lack the humility and the communal consciousness which allow us to receive, and to perceive those blessings with gratitude.  This weakness results in difficulty with true giving, skewing many of our gifts to be those which increase our power, are meant to increase our esteem in the eyes of others, or to return profit to us.  Lack of the ability to feel gratitude also limits our compassion.

Change starts in the present moment.  Now is the time to turn our attention to cultivating the ability to feel and express gratitude, while simultaneously keeping our eyes upon the quality of our compassion.  The world needs both if it and we, too, are to grow.  Our individual practice and mastery of gratitude and compassion are essential. They are a component of the growing world to come.

Peace, Diane

We Really Do Matter

” I have marched, petitioned, written letters to the editor, made phone calls and donated, but despite all I can do, nothing seems to have changed.   I feel I cannot make a difference.”  The words refer to the current crisis of climate change, uttered during a conversation about that topic.  The words are poignant, but the speaker is not the only one who feels that way.  At some time or another, each of us experiences frustration at not being able to inspire the changes we want to see, and many also experience a strong desire to give up and stop working.  Paradoxically, while we experience that desire, we also know that actually doing that will not bring lasting happiness.

I, too, experience such discouragement.  At times, it seems that no matter what words I use, they will simply echo back from the void of inertia, slip into the antithesis of what I am trying to challenge, and perish unread and unconsidered.  At such times, it is hard to continue.  Yet, giving up would simply create more hopelessness, and negate the essence of who I am, re-incorporating it into a standard status-quo.  No wealth or luxury (or the “righteousness” of its opposite) can soothe the injection of pain resulting from giving up.

I would that it were easier for us to continue.  I would that we were not surrounded by the integrated tangle we have made for ourselves by assuming that we can create better than the wisdom of nature, or the tenets of Wisdom.  However, wishing does not make it so.  We are indeed all linked, whether in chaos or creation, or both at the same time.  This connection, while it may seem at times to present an insurmountable obstacle, is in fact an innate strength upon which we all may draw as we continue living and doing our parts to nurture each other and our planet.  Understanding this can lift us up; acting on the understanding can help us perceive often imperceptibly slow forward movement.

We need community; we need others with whom to work, strive and share.  We need those whose efforts commingle with ours to heal ourselves and our planet.  We need to act on the knowledge that we are all linked, and that each of us does make a difference to the nature and quality of the whole.  Our connection is creative – even if we are joined in creating destruction – and allowing ourselves to be separated each from the other, perceiving the separation rather than the link, inhibits our creative manifestation.   Many ways exist to connect.  Some are those of technology (not the same as physical proximity, but yes, a kind of connection), discussion groups, action/service groups, economic cooperatives, extended family, neighborhoods and co-housing, monastic groups, intentional communities, to name a few.  These groups, each in its own way, support their members (and sometimes others, too) and devote their pooled energy into influencing the creation of the as-yet-unformed that is to come.

Another obstacle many of us experience is the perceived lack of time.  Often our experience is that when all the work done to support ourselves is finished, there remains the maintenance work at home to sustain us, and some time spent to connect with family and friends.  That done, perhaps we can eke out a little time to read, exercise or learn and grow in one way or another.   When all that is accomplished, there remains little time to sleep, even if we have been operating with the stress of full speed ahead.  Community is helpful in this way as well.  Work shared (remunerative or for maintenance) means less time each individual needs to spend on tasks.  Shared effort means support for each other.  Shared knowledge means learning and growing in the course of being.  Time saved means less time spent rushing and more time available for sleep and healing, and more time in which to pursue those efforts about which one is passionate.

“It is all so complex,” one might protest.  “We are becoming more fully aware of the consequences of climate change, yet it seems that averting the full effects of climate change cannot be addressed without also engaging the issues with which it is linked.”  It is as if the totality of mistakes made in human society are the drivers of the changes on the planet as a whole.  Yes, fossil fuels are certainly a large part.  But what about people trapped residing in marginalized areas or substandard housing, an agricultural system seemingly bent on destroying the life of the soil as it goes about chemically killing everything it cannot sell, factory farms selling meat from abused animals while polluting ecosystems, a political and economic system structured to exclude or minimize minorities, escalating wars, and technology fever, which separates us from the earth and gives us the illusion that it will protect us from change?  These are a few of today’s issues; they are related to climate change.  Cause for hopelessness?   Not when we realize that each little bit helps; when enough drops have fallen into the bucket, the bucket will overflow.

Let us hold on to hope, learn to feel the interconnectedness of all things, gather into community, and be aware that we do, indeed, matter.  Anything, small or large, that we do counts.  Let us “hold the vision and keep the faith” and continue to contribute from the time we manage to devote and the talents we have been given.  In this way, we continue to grow, helping the earth and others in the process.

Peace, Diane