Monday, July 30, 2007

In the Interests of Peace

Many times I have asked myself, "How can we have peace in the Human family, if we can't create peace in our own families of origin?

In an attempt to come to terms with this question, I recently went into retreat with a beautiful woman named Gangaji, a shining beacon of light and a reassuring reflection of deep stillness in a chaotic, confusing sometimes horrifying world of greed, and hatred and arrogant self righteousness. The words "Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me," take on new meaning and depth in her eloquent, elegant presence.

Suffice it to say, I am utterly taken by her words and her artfully simple skill in seeing underneath the story of suffering that holds humanity in its grip as she reveals how giving up our own personal horror stories can serve Humankind.

Therefore in the interests of an sharing an enquiry into what might create peace in my own personal world, with the intention of extending that light to illuminate the collective Oneness that we are, I am going to quote some of what Gangaji to say in her article in July's Common Ground. She too had a struggle to come to peace within herself and her family, her vigil for peace, and now being a torch to light the way, is inspiring to say the least.  

In her radiant demonstration of the possibility of a peace that includes every ONE of us, I hold a vision of our coming to peace together. I am in a ruthless process of investigating what is TRUE in order to bring an end, for once and for all to the war, both within and without.

I have certainly suffered in my life.  I have certainly inflicted suffering on others. I have been left hanging swinging in the wind. I have triumphed over adversity that would have left others bitter and closed. I have opened to it all, utterly, experienced and embraced all of it, including the horror, and I am grateful for all of it. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that birth, death, loss, gain, none of it is real. Every part of it has been and will always be part of the Divine design, an opportunity for discovering and  remembering who I really am.

As with all stories, the story of the seemingly inevitable war for love, and the equally adamant defense against it, the self righteous indignation in fighting for what I perceived as stolen from me, the ego battle of defense against the perceived loss and gain, the fight for approval and against guilt and judgment, against exquisitely painful suffering, and devastating humiliation, all of that became collapsed, diminished, for a time, into a game to see who was the greatest victim in order to earn the greatest possible love and attention for our wounds.

In the course of this struggle to know myself, I have been pushed through the eye of the needle, into and through the realm of Hell, and back again, to discover Heaven on Earth. I have known the extravagant bliss of being deeply, wildly loved and the equally wild grief of loss. I have tasted the glorious ecstasy of seeming loss and gain, all in the fight for survival of something or someone that I now discover doesn't exist. Underneath it all, there is only spacious silence and shimmering awareness, no winning and losing, no living or dying. There is just what is, in all its beauty and horror. All. Nothing and no one left out. Everything included, all of it, results in the beauty and truth of simply accepting what I am and what you are. Love.

I now realize it was all a story I made up, a tragic story of lack and unworthiness, compensated for by a success story of a strong suit of creative self expression. Which all means nothing at all. Nothing except what I create it to mean. It is a meaning making world. That is what humanity is doing all the time, making up and justifying an ongoing horror story of greed and destruction, good guys and bad guys, looking good, avoiding looking bad, all totally without awareness that it is a game, a fabrication, a gigantic game of "let's pretend." And we have taken it all so seriously! We forgot to laugh!

The impact of that story, of what happened, and what I made up that meant about me, the inner war that it created, has played out over a lifetime. An upset little five year old girl has been running my life. Along with most of humanity, in all its beauty and ugliness, horror and ecstasy, I fought for love, defended against it, and finally surrendered to it. When I did that I finally came Home to who I really am, the beautiful, innocent, loving compassionate, loving, generous, innocent person who has been here all along.

In an explosion of joy, I discovered that you cannot lose who you truly are. It is indestructible, eternal, and wonderful. It is like falling in love for the first time. You just find yourself bursting into laughter for no reason. And seeing all the struggle, the pain, the suffering, as now optional. A choice. I am free!

The bittersweet truth of that exploded into my awareness this weekend in an exercise in which we asked one another, simply, "What do you love?"

Astonished, what burst out of my mouth was, "My sister."  

And that, my friends, is the bare and honest Truth of it. Love. It can't be defended against or explained or understood. It just is. Under all gain and loss, all wrong and right, there is only love, vast, boundless, compassionate, magnificent, and real. And that is the only thing that IS real. Everything else but that is only story based on a HUGE lie, the lie that there isn't enough for everyone, that love is a scarce resource that must be earned, fought for, and eventually lost.  Love is not something that can be accomplished, it just is. Hoarding is does not protect against the phantom of death. Death does not exist! The body is just more "stuff." Stuff does not exist. It is just molecules of stardust moving around at an incredibly dense speed. There is enough for all of us.  Impossibly extravagant giving is not a way to lose. There is more than enough for all of us. We can afford to be generous, to discover and tap into a magnificent eternal abundance that is available to all of us. The more we share the more we have!

That competition, that struggle, that battle for survival depends on a perceived scarce resource (sometimes called mother's love or father's approval, or sometimes projected onto some all powerful Father figure who wants us to behave to earn His approval and avoid the punishment of Hell,) has governed all the competition for attention in my life, and all the fear of rejection that I have experienced and guarded against, and, naturally attracted.  

I suspect all of us have one version or another of this fight for survival, this fear of annihilation, humiliation, devastation, loss. Most of us compensate, strategize, manipulate, charm, hide, plan, and somehow attempt to control the outcome of the game, to protect ourselves by gain. Without realizing it, we are swimming in a completely unreal, and finally totally unnecessary game, a game made up out of shadows outside the wall of the cave we are hiding in, nothingness.

The winner of this insane game of musical chairs, if you will, with only one perceived winner and everyone else left out, takes the booby prize: money, which is supposed to signify success. Or perhaps the booby prize is feeling "superior" or "right" or "better than," or "stronger" or " smarter." But essentially what we fight for is our story of loss and pain, our individual ego identity that says "There must be some way out of here!" We created our ego in the tiny made idea of separation as salvation, to defend ourselves against pain or being controlled or rejection or comparison or any of the other things the ego says. Tragically, the thing we put our trust in to protect us creates exactly the opposite of what we crave. It separates us from and distant from deep and abiding love, peace, joy and innocence. Instead it gives us an identity as a powerless, oppressed, helpless victim, wounded, hurt, and justified in retaliating in self-righteous indignation.

All this story of the ego identity clearly doesn't satisfy or fulfill our true need which is for the sweet joy of meeting truly, authentically in love.
I now realize I can choose to be free or to suffer. The way out of suffering is to forgive myself, extend compassion to the five year old girl who felt so humiliated and exposed, the nine year old who felt so terrorized and shamed. That upset little girl has been running my life. Her upset inflicted on others has had a huge impact on the inauthenticity of my relationships. I am willing to have it stop here. The costs to all concerned, including myself, have been too great. I am choosing to leave a legacy of peace and forgiveness, rather than one of pain, judgment and suffering, fear and loathing, to be passed on to the next generation. I am choosing to stop. I am choosing to go back to the innocent wonder of what occurred before the Fall from innocence. As Joni Mitchell so eloquently says," We are stardust. We are golden. And have to get back to the Garden."

In the interests of calling it off, please refer to the following powerfully simple teaching from Gangaji who I am spending this weekend with.

    "In the interest of peace, perhaps it is time to take an honest look at what you consider to be "problems" you will see that you first have to go into memories of the past in order to generate a story of the supposed problem. No matter what the world is reflecting, whether circumstances are beautiful or terrifying, if your internal story is one of victimhood, you will suffer. IF you are quite certain that you aren't telling yourself a story of victimization,and yet you continue to suffer, then I suggest you are lying to yourself. You are telling yourself some thread of an ancient story of how you have been wronged. Striking out in anger or revenge always involves a story of victimization. Seeing how this victim story plays out in your own life is an important step toward realizing true freedom. When you really see it you see that it has to be recreated in your mind each time it plays….to play it through takes energy, attention, belief, emotion, and some kind of masochistic pleasure in the pain. Yes, it is shocking! To see this operating within your own mind can be quite disturbing.
    To stop being a victim doesn't mean to trivialize the horror in your life, to deny it, to gloss over it or repress it. It means you can fully meet whatever appears. At a certain point you You don't have to run, hide, justify, wail, curse or moan. You can just meet life as it is. Are you willing to let your stories of victimization go? Are you willing to let all those horrible aggressors go unpunished?
    At a certain point you will have to be willing to just call it off. Yes, there has been horrible suffering, and you have been on both ends of it. You have perpetuated it, and you have experienced it directed at you. Are you willing to end it? You are free to suffer, and you are free to stop suffering. No one can end it but you. That is where your freedom is.  Conscious freedom is the freedom to meet suffering consciously, and then consciously let it go. The bondage is in being unaware of the choice. You can choose to be free, or you can choose to suffer. It is up to you.
    Everyone has experienced the sweet release of forgiveness, as well as the hard coldness of not forgiving. You know the difference, and you know the investment in the story that keeps a lack of forgiveness in place. You also know the relief when you actually forgive and let go of the burden.
    Now is the time to forgive. Horrible things are continually being done all over this planet, in your own individual minds and in the collective mind. To forgive these horrors does not necessarily mean to forget. You can forgive and let go without forgetting. A huge learning and humbling occurs when you are willing to see the story of humanity with all its horrors.  Yet you can also recognize how much effort is needed to hang on to the story. You can see that all the effort and attention put into hanging on are actually a meditation on not forgiving. The stories continue to replay with an obsession over what should have been done or what might be done again.
    Continuing to replay the story saps your energy. It is exhausting. I honour the need to remember and to witness the horror that has been done and is still being done. But usually we bring to that memory more hatred, suffering, and misery.
The futility and waste of this kind of tribal familial warfare is going on within our minds as well. "I'm not going to let go of what they did to me, because it was wrong.Yes, wrongs have been done and are still being done. There is no need to forget or deny the wrongs that have been done both to you and by you, but you can let go of suffering over them. "
Forgive them, for they know not what they do" is the truth.
Any war that is going on because of what happened yesterday is the result of ignorance, or holding on to some idea of revenge. It is very tempting to hold onto these kinds of views, because there is some pleasure in it, and that pleasure must be recognized. It is the pleasure of egoic righteousness. When you are unwilling to forgive you are holding on to a story of your suffering and what it did to you, and you are cursing them, whether consciously or unconsciously. You must be willing to stop the karma within yourself, be willing to say, "No, this time it goes no farther than me.' This is the willingness to be at peace. The willingness to forgive is the natural outgrowth of the willingness to be free, and gives you the temptation to hold on.
Finally, to be able to forgive this whole experience of humanity, with all its functions, drives, aggressions and desires, is to recognize what is untouched by any of that, what remains pure, innocent and free even in the grossest of stories. In our desire to hold on to revenge, we actually keep ourselves from the experience of freedom. As with everything else, in our desire to hold on to one thing, we keep something else away. In the desire to give something, we actually receive. You can inquire directly within: What am I not willing to forgive?"
As you do this,you find another opportunity to bring to consciousness what is not consciously seen, what might be holding your mind in bondage. No effort is needed here, only the willingness to be completely honest. Once you have honestly seen what it is you are not willing to forgive, you might also find it helpful to ask yourself: "What am I willing to forgive?" Recognize forgiveness and savour it for a moment. It is important not to force anything, just to welcome all into the heart of consciousness. Can you forgive? Can you accept forgiveness?"
Gangaji, Common Ground, July, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Even the Bad Guys Have Good Guys Inside

~ An Open Letter to the Leaders of the World ~
On one hand, we want to thank you. You have provided us with such adversity and it is this that has finally made us stronger. You have been formidable foes, but we are learning that this world will get better only when we love our enemies and see the good in them. We know that every bad guy has a good guy inside. And we know that spark of divine essence that dwells deep within our own beings, also lies deep within yours.
If you were to come and join us at our table, you would find curiosity, friendship, and forgiveness. Just because you have treated us badly does not mean that we hold a grudge against you. We would, however, expect you to understand that we reject your authority and that you will find no support for your plans and schemes among us. We simply no longer choose to be manipulated.
Although there will be obstacles, we are willing to start over. We are prepared to be responsible for our own lives now. We must discard your Cards, Vaccines, and Chip Implants because they have too many strings attached. We must turn off your television and radio programs until their messages become uplifting. And we will start to rebuild our lives, without your help, by first living together in small self-sufficient communities. If need be, we will grow our own food in our backyards as well as in common areas, and we will barter and trade among ourselves. We will also nurture our children with foresight, and learn to love and heal each other so peace and freedom can return to all of our lives.
As we see it, you are also being stalked by your own evolution and you will change. You cannot avoid being drawn out of your secrecy at this time. The only path left for you to follow is one of conscience. Like us, you are realizing that there is no separation between you and what you perceive. We are all beginning to understand that when we inflict pain or hardship on others, we inflict it upon ourselves. Once you fully comprehend what you are doing to yourself, you won't be able to continue. Enlightenment is coming to all who renounce conflict and violence. Even an unscrupulous, sophisticated robber baron can evolve into a higher, more loving entity. He is no less entitled to the Grace of our Great Creator than the people he has conspired against.
Just that one small transformation in your attitude whereby you begin to see, without blinders, that you only lack the opening of your heart in order to take the next step -- a step for which you are poised and ready, but which all of your power and money cannot provide for you. Isn't it ironic, now, that you have dared for generations to hide our own hearts from us? Ever since we were trusting little schoolchildren reciting your pledges and practicing your patriotic ceremonies, you deceptively taught us to place our hand over our heart on the left side of our chest! Only now are we locating our hearts in the exact center of our chests, and we are learning how to activate the ­wondrous feelings that have long slept dormant within us.
The people of the Earth yearn for the day when we will all live together in peace. You cannot stop us from advancing toward the love we all deserve. That glorious moment nears, when, instead of being adversaries, we will stand together as brothers and sisters whose consciences have awakened, as equals whose time of heaven on Earth has come. Until then: for all the people who needlessly suffer and die because of your economic and political manipulations; and for all the animals who face extinction or life in a cage that doesn't even allow them enough space to turn around; and for all the beautiful plants and trees of the forests who burn indiscriminately, we ask one last question. Why must you continue to bring harm and havoc to all the living things of the Earth when your own truest happiness would automatically come from helping us instead?
From The Intenders of the Highest Good Novel

My Intention for today is:
I Intend that I am seeing everyone, including the current world managers, in their highest light.