Where Do We Go From Here

Where do we go from here?

Since mid-March of 2020, the world has changed in fundamental ways. Folks are masked and afraid of the others – and even when masked outside and further than six feet apart from others who are also masked, some will move away. In this instance, we get a clear picture of how the worst and most debilitating threat is the one you can’t see. In this pandemic-induced climate of fear, every aspect of our lives is being challenged, and unfortunately, the fear narrative is fueled and sustained by the mainstream media. 

So, “Where do we go from here?”

If you do a search for that question, the top hit is from the speech, “Where Do We Go From Here?” given by Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia in 1967. That speech, and that question, is as relevant to the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement as it is now in our deeply polarized society. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate would go one to advocate for human rights and a sense of hope in his book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” I give you some excerpts.

~ “I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where do we go from here?” that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society.

~ What I’m saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, “America, you must be born again!”

~ And so, I conclude by saying today that we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. 

~ And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because St. John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.”

So how do we carry out this task of bringing light to the dark and love to a hate that fuels the deep divisions rippling through our country? I suggest it’s now even more imperative than in pre-Covid times that we “think clean” and “think psychological.” The more conscious we are, the more choice we have in choosing how we feel about ourselves and those around us, the more capable we are of making our own individual contribution to this second opportunity to restructure America. And you don’t have to be a social or political activist to foster this change; it can start right in your own home, in your neighborhood grocery store, and along the park trails where you walk. “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.”

Above all, it’s important for us to understand what’s beyond our control in the world and what’s in our control. And what’s in our control is the choice to be kind to others – especially those in great fear. And it’s important to understand that it’s not our responsibility to rescue others from their fear or anger or pain – that is an impossible task – what we can do is use the right tools and strategies to become the calm eye in the middle of this hurricane of unrest moving across  our country. 

So, “Where do we go from here?” 

I invite you to consider establishing a daily practice using the following navigational tools to cultivate more equanimity in your life and thus more peace in the world – right here . . . right now. This is our greatest opportunity to cultivate inner strength and channel the spirit of love.

Accept Responsibility

Accept responsibility for yourself, your life and your actions. You are response-able. You are an adult. You are account-able, meaning, with every action you take, you account for it. You attract every single experience in your life, regardless of how positive or negative your perception is of that experience. Consider the idea that there are no negative experiences, only just experiences. Be an impartial observer of the negative narrative and strong emotions of others around you. Know that you are ultimately only responsible for your own state. And from a place of loving kindness, and a deep psychological understanding of what fuels the fear in others, you choose goodness. “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.”

Accept That Others Need To Experience Their Own Reality

Stop trying change or convince people that their view is wrong and your view is right. Everybody has their own version of the truth and your version is no more correct than theirs. Your version of the truth is dictated by your path and learning experience which is completely defined by the overall state you choose live in. We are all unique and we are all capable of creating our own realities. We are what we think and feel. It is much wiser to agree to disagree than impose your truth on another person whose learning experience may be the polar opposite of your own. Your truth is only YOUR TRUTH and not anyone else’s. Think of every person as a dealer at their poker table; you are just another player in THEIR game. They’re making the rules, not you, and they may possibly see and feel what you do one day, but until that day comes, be kind, respectful and share your knowledge in the most courteous way possible. The goal is to open doors, not close them – to be a change agent to others by modeling love.”

“Be the change you want to see in others.” ~ Ghandi

Accept That You Can’t Change or Control Anybody Else

Be willing to let go of your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you — situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street — just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better you’ll feel. You can never control anybody but yourself. Your need to control others stems from your own fears and lack of control in your own life. As soon as you are able to let go, your need for control will end.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” 
 ~ Lao Tzu

Accept That Money Is Only Energy And Nothing More

Money has become a symbol of oppression, control, restriction, greed, but is it really? What is money? Money is only energy and it is only what we make of it. If you feel you are always lacking money and financial freedom, it is only a reflection of other problems in your life. Most people that desire financial wealth and don’t have it are not allowing energy to flow. They have emotions and programs running that are blocking their ability to attract wealth. It has nothing to do with their job or income. It has to do with how they feel about themselves and others. The key is to put ourselves in a frame of mind where we don’t associate money with anything negative. However you choose to generate money, let it be doing something you really enjoy without a NEED to do it. When you NEED to do anything, energy will not flow. It must be because you WANT to do it and you ENJOY doing it. Positive mind, positive energy and the money will flow. “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.”

Accept That Your Expectations Will Filter Your Experience

Let go of any expectations of yourself that will limit your growth. If you hold high expectations for how others should behave, you will often be disappointed if they do not represent themselves in the manner you expected. It is only your expectations of people that cause you to judge them; this is ultimately a judgement of yourself. Far too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need . . . and eventually they forget about themselves. You have one life — this one right now — you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path. “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.”

Accept That You Don’t Have To Be A Right-Fighter To Be True To Yourself

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong — wanting to always be right — even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. We love to “right-fight.” But it’s just not worth it because the state of being right is often subjective with many layers and perspectives of truth. Whenever you feel the urgent need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question:

“Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” ~Wayne Dyer

Accept That You Will Never Stand In Your Full Power, Unless You Release Your Fears

Constantly reliving and reacting to your past, to attachments, to resentments and to fears is what keeps you from growing. We often assume the past looked so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for — the past that you are now dreaming about — was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. The moment you detach yourself from all those material things you don’t need, you become more peaceful, more tolerant, more kind, and more serene. 

And finally, let go of your internal resentment towards people, situations and events. If you hold a grudge, you only take power away from yourself and the learning stops. Unless you are being stalked by a mountain lion or being attacked by a mama Grizzly bear, most of your fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist — you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside, and the outside will fall into place. 

Yes, corporate greed, moral relativism and situational ethics has mostly brought our world to the precipice of disorder and chaos, we still have a choice. Let us practice daily to choose a new narrative – a narrative that annihilates victimhood and embraces responsibil leadership that is not fueled by fear or hate.

New Year’s Day 2021

On Contemplative Prayer (Deep Thought and Reflection)

Contemplation happens to everyone. It happens in moments when we are open, undefended, and immediately present. —Gerald May

Even after some 30 plus years of transformational practice, my tendency in most situations involves varying degrees of attachment, defensiveness, judgment, control, and analysis. I am, and have been, for most of my life, far better at judging and analysis than being fully present in compassion. 

To sustain nonjudgement is my New Year’s practice.

It’s important to admit that most of us start from a calculating stance. Our false self controls much of our reactions.

On my better days, when I am “open, undefended, and present,” I can begin with an open mind and open heart. Most of the time, however, I GET there later, and even END there. When it is later, it is only through reflection, and usually forgiving myself for being so calculating in an earlier situation or interaction. 

My True Self seems to always be ridden and blinded by the defensive needs of my Separate Self. It is an hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute battle, at least for me. I can see why all spiritual traditions insist on some form of daily prayer. Without the practice of contemplative prayer, we can assume that we will fall right back in the cruise control of small and personal self-interest, the pitiable and fragile smaller self.

If you only have one prayer in the day, make it “thank you.” —Rumi

My first look upon a situation, or another human being, is seldom compassionate. My smaller self is too busy weighing and feeling: “How can they be so ignorant?” “How will this affect me?” or “How does my self-image demand that I react to this?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This stance often leads to an implosion of self-preoccupation that prevents communion with the other, or with the moment. In other words, I first feel MY feelings before I can relate to the situation or the emotion of the OTHER

I imagine that enlightened human beings posses a capacity to continuously sustain a gaze of loving kindness, of compassion, upon their fellow human beings. Since this is near impossible for us normal folk, the best we can do is to do our best to practice daily the art of “forgiving ourselves for when we know not what we do” and thus connecting compassionately with the other. This is quite difficult, as it requires us to be in an “undefended” state. It is only from that state that we can immediately (or at least more quickly) stand with, and for, the other, and for the moment, experience that compassion. 

I have spent much of my life getting to the gaze of compassion. By nature, I have a critical mind and a demanding heart, and I am generally impatient and still carry residual conditioning that limits an ongoing joy and celebration of the glory of creation.. I am now learning that the practice of solitude and silence (which has always been difficult for me) is the key to living a liberated life of compassion. 

Creating more time for stillness, and looking at life from the place of divine intimacy (sympatheia) is my practice for the New Year. More particularly, my intention is to look compassionately upon those who I judge as ignorant, those who are suffering. This is my intention – to continue merging my critical thinking with my compassionate heart, and to see with the eyes of compassion which always moves me to act for peace and fairness. 

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me;  my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”  ― Meister Eckhart

“Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe. For in a sense, all things are mutually woven together and therefore have an affinity for each other—for one thing follows after another according to their tension of movement, their sympathetic stirrings, and the unity of all substance.” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Living Life in Radical Amazement

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. Just imagine that? Just imagine being pleasantly amazed at the ordinary world around you instead of worrying over whether someone is thinking you are special, or if you got more likes on your FB post today, or if your workmates will like the way you styled your hair or trimmed your beard, or if you might succumb to some willy virus circulating through the population knocking off mostly the old and weak.

Imagine waking up in the morning and looking at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Imagine entering the classroom of life with marvel and wonder and a desire to learn and grow. Imagine, every day, experiencing the Great Mystery as creation constantly unfolding before us in clear view – offering us in every way the opportunity to witness the sublime and the beautiful. 

Imagine how extraordinary that would be to see the ordinary as extraordinary.

Now smile. Open your heart and open your mind. Open the window of your room. Breathe deep the elemental air. Smell the freshness of earth and rain and snow. Pause to feel the breaze and sun on your face. Hear the joyful bird song. This is the love that invites you everyday to know its presence. Feel that love. Smile that love. Offer that love to those whose ignorance keeps them lost in pain and suffering. 

Your are a portal for this gift of love. Honor this gift. Share it willingly and appropriately. Let your light be a balm that soothes the ills of those around you.