May 3, 2016 · 2:36 pm
The idea that our civilization follows a path of reason or logic or unfolding wisdom seems not unlike the trust we might have had as children in the adult world. That is, until we began to see and understand the consequences of adult actions. Yet even then, as adults ourselves, we so easily fall into the practice of imagining that there are intelligent, wise beings guiding us. Or, one great and all powerful, wise and intelligent being…
I understand that it might be in some sense comforting to feel that way. But doesn’t that relieve us of some responsibility to dig deep and get a grip on what’s really happening? I appreciate that holding such a trust in the all-knowing or those who appear more powerful, stronger or smarter than ourselves may help prevent us from sinking into despair. And maybe that is the door you choose as you move through life.
I wonder sometimes whether such beliefs let us off the hook, not just individually but as a species as well. If I trust in a plan that is inevitably controlled by forces beyond me, then I am helpless to change what happens. My influence is limited, and whatever choices I make will ultimately have no effect.
There are times when I am able to take a huge step back and see the BIGGER picture of how we are living on this planet. That’s when I wonder how there could possibly be a PLAN for the way we have developed. Seriously! What kind of plan is it that we perpetually treat each other as trash? Is the plan that we war with each other until there is only a handful of us left, and then how will they live? What part of this plan dictates that we use up all the resources on this planet while expecting that we won’t suffer while waiting for someone/something to bail us out of the predicament that results?
I ask you, “What the f**k kind of PLAN is this?” Wouldn’t it make more sense to take a look around and find some common ground with the other beings on this planet? Seems to me we have a great deal in common. We are more alike than not. We breathe the same air. We all require sustenance in the form of food/water. We all want to be healthy and safe from harm. We all want to live peacefully. We all want to know that we are worth something. We all want to love and/or be loved.
So, listen up! As we stumble around in the dark on this earth, see if you can find a hand to hold and then offer your other hand to someone else. That’s when you may actually feel that we are all connected, that in order to make our way forward, we must depend on each other. We have connection to all livings beings and the earth, but as human beings, we alone are capable of the conscious awareness needed to change direction. We have a responsibility to do this or else we must take responsibility for failing, and that would be a tragic ending to this human story.
Don’t you agree?
February 21, 2013 · 5:41 pm
Most of the time we go through our days following a schedule or routine that is more or less familiar. Even when it’s a day without a schedule or one that contains some new adventure, there are enough elements within it to provide us with the continuity of what’s familiar. I wonder if we realize just how much we rely on our day to day lives to always have this kind of consistency. We certainly experience a level of comfort in expecting that the sun will rise every morning, the earth will stay solid under our feet and other aspects of our lives will remain stable.
Consider the times you encounter a new experience – an event that’s happened to you, a situation where you are asked to do something you’ve never done before or maybe you’re involved in learning new skills. In each case, you find yourself evaluating and categorizing what’s before you. We all do this – checking out our experience to identify elements that are known or maybe similar to what we already know. Of course, this process keeps us from becoming overwhelmed by having to take in so much that’s new that we cannot move forward. We even follow this pattern every time when we meet a stranger, comparing his appearance, voice or mannerisms to others we already know.
As we go from one day to the next, the elements in our lives that are familiar become expectations for our future. Say I meet someone who bears a strong resemblance to my sister. It would not be unusual for me to allow my feelings about and attitude towards my sister to influence my interactions with this new person. At some point, however, as the new relationship develops, the bearing of my familiar sense will give way to create space for the “newly” familiar. This is the way we operate, though often it’s not as smooth a process as it might seem.
There can be clinging and aversion that get in the way of actually seeing or appreciating the new experience as it is, or, in the case above, the person as she is. We become attached to the way things are, to what we know, to who we are or to what we have. The attitudes and feelings we bring can mask what we otherwise might see or hear or feel. It requires conscious awareness to determine how open and unencumbered we can be in greeting what is new. Even with the intention to remain open, “new” doesn’t stay that way for long.
The drive to be comfortable, surrounded by the familiar, is very strong. It is part of what helps us survive and negotiate our environment. Often we sort of slide right into reframing a new experience into one that is familiar. But when a life changing event occurs, it’s not so easy. Transforming upheaval into familiar or comfortable takes some effort though it can happen nonetheless. Consider Stockholm syndrome, or attitudes/behaviors of victims of abuse or violence or natural disasters. Not to reduce the effects of such events to a simplistic level, but certainly some element of the drive to incorporate familiarity is present. In particular, when a situation is not an isolated occurrence but continues over a period of time, a person habituates himself to what is happening around him. This process itself does not indicate an attitude of acceptance or approval; instead it carries with it the intention of supporting the individual in moving ahead with his life. As with so many other aspects of our lives, this changing face of familiar is a process that serves us better when we can bring awareness to it. The practice of mindfulness, which can be supported through meditation and yoga, has been found to assist in providing clearer intention for times when we are in this process. Being mindful in the moment can help us understand when expectations based on our familiar lives are getting in the way of clear seeing. It can also create the potential for an opening toward newness or change or whatever is different from what we’ve known before, leading us hopefully to a more authentic, less automatic, way of living.