It’s hard to ignore the disheartening news and circumstances of much of the world today. But by sitting quietly and alone with ourselves every day, just long enough to touch the centre of our being, allowing ourselves to fully experience the range of emotions that we are undoubtedly feeling in these times, we will be able to connect with others through the compassion that spontaneously arises. We don’t even need to be in the same space as them to do it.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.~ Albert Einstein
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our
circle ofcompassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in itsbeauty.
Nobody is able to achieve this completely but
striving forsuch achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
When we reach the place of our suffering–which still ours even if it is triggered by someone else’s misfortune–we can genuinely relate to one another from a more loving and humble place. By habitually responding to unwelcome news with the same emotional pattern–anger, or sadness, or a sense of helplessness–we ignore the other emotions in us that are also driving our thoughts and behaviour. These unexplored emotions lead us to do and say things we might regret, from seemingly small actions to big, catastrophic ones.
A spiritual life is not about looking happy and being nice all the time. This is phoney and unrealistic. Spiritual life is about embracing life fully, just as we find it, and recognising what is real and true in that experience. By pretending we aren’t angry or sad when actually we are, we compress those emotions into hidden parts of our psyche and physical body, only to come out at another point in time through physical or emotional suffering that is felt by us and projected onto others.
Right now I invite you to take a moment, however brief, to sit and just experience yourself as you are. Softly, compassionately ask yourself: What am I feeling? What if nothing were wrong with this moment? What if I were okay, exactly as I am now?
Just see what comes up. Notice that you’re not saying ‘Everything is alright’. The question is simply ‘What if I were okay, what if everything were just fine as it is?’ The space that emerges from asking these questions and imagining things from a different perspective allows us to make choices in a way that may not have been evident before.
Especially young people today are highly anxious about the future, and they are right to be concerned. When they see people ignoring or simply paying lip service to the very obvious need for change, they are right to be disgusted. There is a lot we can do in our lives to connect us to the fragile life all around us: our happiness and security expand by becoming more socially active and responsible, not by concentrating on our personal needs.
If the state of the climate, imminent water shortages, storms and heat waves is a source of stress for you, then take immediate action by no longer wasting water, no longer buying bottled water or any plastics that are not absolutely necessary, avoiding food grown or made in inefficient ways requiring too much land, water, or other resources, and avoiding environmentally destructive things like coffee pods, single-use plastic, and oversized vehicles.
This is spirituality in action: cleaning up our emotional toxicity along with our environment. We can’t feel smug about ourselves sitting around in meditation circles, claiming to be practising yoga while our short-sighted daily behaviour doesn’t support all the life with whom we share this planet
This is not a hippy-dippy path for the marginal few. This is the truth of our existence and our greatest spiritual work. In any given era, in any given life, our highest attainment is to eliminate selfishness, greed and hatred. What we see on the news shows us how far we have yet to go.
With much love and light