Breathing in Compassion

Like many of you, I have spent the last few days veering between sadness and rage. Trying to balance these emotions has been draining, and I am simply an observer at a safe distance. At some point, the only thing left to do is surrender to the truth of our current situation, stepping back from the emotional, visceral response and entering a holding pattern until some sort of wisdom emerges. It is both immensely disheartening and an opportunity to be guided by grace.

The Kali-Yuga – the Age of Darkness and Deception we are currently experiencing according to Indian cosmology as laid out in the Krishna Purana (a.k.a. Shrimad Bhagavatam) – is an era of ignorance, greed, and abuse of power during which it is the most precious and fruitful time to have a sincere spiritual practice because the stakes are so high. This seeming paradox is not pointing us to a self-comforting, self-justifying spiritual practice, beautifully curated for Instagram, but to the urgent quest to know the Truth of our existence as indivisible aspects of life itself.

In Kaliyuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a person’s good birth, proper behaviour and fine qualities, and law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.

Shrimad Bhagavatam 12.2.2

By dint of being alive in these times, we are participating in everything happening right now. Once we wake up to the circumstances surrounding us, we have a choice as to what these look like going forward. One thought, one decision, one action at a time we participate in creating the world around us.

If we continue to be selfishly preoccupied with our individual little comforts and desires, we will perpetuate the cycle of oppression and abuse at the very least through omission and ignorance – wilful or otherwise. Perpetrators are not only those who commit outright acts of theft and violence, but also the bystanders, as this week has so starkly shown.*

Ever since I was a little girl, I have held onto the naive delusion that once people discover the truth of a situation it would be enough to make them stop further harm – to themselves and to others – because knowledge and justice would prevail. Again, and again, I have seen how ignorance is more powerful than justice, and selfishness is more powerful than truth in our everyday world.

Our individual consciousness reflects the collective consciousness. Each of us can begin right now to practice calming our anger, looking deeply at the roots of the hatred and violence in our society and in our world. Each of us can practice listening deeply with com- passion in order to hear and understand what we have not yet heard and understood. When we have listened and looked deeply, we may begin to develop the energy of brotherhood and sisterhood between all nations, which is the deepest spiritual heritage of all religious and cultural traditions. In this way, peace and understanding within the whole world is increased day by day. Developing the nectar of compassion in our own heart is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, At Home in the World

As a girl I watched Roots, a compelling 1970s television mini-series telling the true story of generations of slaves from the perspective of sympathetic, relatable human beings, rather than through sanitised and fragmented history. Compelled, disturbed, and highly emotional, I thought ‘surely we now know how bad this is, surely the adults will have stopped this unjust violence inflicted upon others.’ Five decades later, we are the adults, and the harm hasn’t stopped.

There is a higher, unarguable Truth, and universal Law and Justice – dharma – is based upon it. It is an undeniable moral high ground that we can sense in our bodies, even if our minds try to distract or delude us. If we look away too often or too long, we become ill from the stress and tension built by the untenable hypocrisy we hold and suppress in our bodies. Our collective self – society – equally suffers, weakening and becoming sick from this unsustainable repression of Truth and Justice.

I can’t breathe

The lungs are the seat of grief and despair. Here, unprocessed sadness constricts the lungs and therefore breathing, making us weak and vulnerable to outside influences, like depression, lethargy, and viruses. How much ancestral grieving is inherent in the human condition? How do we know what is part of our personal story or a result of ancestral suffering?

Strangulation, symbolic or real, occurs at the throat chakra, home to self-expression, the voice, the capacity to choose, and vital to life-sustaining respiration. Suppressed voting rights, suppressed choice, suppressed voices, and suppressed bodies will throw off the entire system, individually or collectively. Imbalance can’t last for long before it needs to be redressed in the interest of saving the whole.

Until we fully understand the individual and collective need to grieve, repent, and change our behaviour, we will ALL remain vulnerable. If some of us can’t breathe, none of us can.

500 years ago, we experienced a massive shift in civilisation, which led to worldwide domination by a few greedy and selfish powers uninhibited by justice and truth, except for a limited few. We are experiencing the same astrological configurations now and in the years surrounding this period, as we reap the collective karma of the past 7 generations.

1518 – the last time Saturn was conjunct Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn as it is in 2020 – was the beginning of colonialism in its ugliest forms, from which those of us in western countries continue to benefit today. The slave trade flourished from this point, and the inherent inequalities were not a by-product but the foundation of a system that would make some more wealthy than could ever be imagined, and others more de-humanised and impoverished than ever should be imaginable.

How we move on from this current, tumultuous turning point will determine the conditions in which the next seven generations to come will live their lives.

The partial Lunar Eclipse at the Full Moon in Sagittarius is on June 5th at 21:12 CET. Join me for a Full Moon Meditation via Zoom, where we will sit in contemplation together, and explore the Astrological energies of the month of June and beyond. I will examine all of these connections from the perspective of astrology and attempt to formulate a spiritual and pragmatic response to moving forward in love and compassion for all.

In solidarity, and with love,

* For a profound perspective on current events from Dr Larry Ward, a fellow student of Thich Nhat Hanh, watch his latest video.