After all this time, we find ourselves here, together, with the opportunity to be still, to go inward and reflect, and to bring outward into our shared world the quiet knowledge that lives within. Our global community is facing formidable crises in the humanitarian, social, ecological, economic, agricultural, political, and medical arenas. Instead of viewing these crises as disparate obstacles, we can now recognize them as related symptoms of a more essential problem. It is time for us to shift our focus away from applying superficial bandages to this wound that is blazing quite literally as a wildfire, the wound that clamours as a riot of people in pain, the wound that cannot heal as we continue to poison our land, water, air, and our neighbors. We must now lean into the perhaps uncomfortable truth of what is happening and why it is happening.
Our dominant modern culture is built upon the perception, or the assertion, that each of us are independent entities, destined to navigate, compete with, and dominate other people, creatures, and the environment in order to ensure our personal success. When we do not identify with other people, they are viewed as threats to our wellbeing; when we do not identify with the natural environment and elements, we view them as resources to be exploited or as a dangerous barrier. This fear-based mindset is hinged on the idea that there is a great scarcity, that only some people can have enough and everyone else must lose--when actually, the opposite is true: the world functions in abundance, and we are wholly dependent upon other people and the environment for our survival and happiness. The belief that “I,” as an individual person and an ego consciousness, am the most important thing, that I am the primary driver of experience, and that I am ultimately separate from everything and everyone that I interact with, is a spiritual sickness. This egocentric disorder is pervasive in our culture and is manifesting as cruelty, suffering, and destruction in both our larger shared world and within our personal sphere, throughout our heart and mind. Fortunately we are now faced with the opportunity to reexamine and redesign our internal and external structures in order to create a more harmonious, just, and resilient society.
To live in accordance with natural truths is to live in harmony:
It is a natural truth that all human beings are interconnected and equally worthy. Our species emerged from a common origin in Africa and spread across the globe over hundreds of thousands of years. Genetically, we are one family: there is more genetic difference between a man and a woman of the same race than there is between two women or two men of different races. The social, economic, and political disparity we see along racial lines in modern society is solely the result of a long history of power, domination, marginalization, and exploitation that is woven so tightly into the fabric of our culture that many people choose to ignore it. This painful history involves colonization, slavery, cultural genocide, disenfranchisement, oppression, xenophobia, warfare, disproportionate imprisonment, extrajudicial killings by police, and the pollution of marginalized communities with toxic waste. Once these atrocities are acknowledged it becomes clear that we could only perpetrate these crimes if we believed ourselves to be separate from those who we would dominate, as if a deranging veil obscured the light of our mind from the experience of our fellows. We should allow ourselves to feel the anger, fear, guilt, shame, revulsion, or any painful emotion associated with the cruelty that has passed and is passing among us, rather than hiding from or repressing these emotions. We can extend our light of mind to embrace this knowledge and these emotions and move towards empathy, integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and love. We can strive to continue to educate ourselves, to speak from a place of awareness, and to act with intention as we prepare to collaboratively restructure our culture into one that affirms the equal worth of all people.
It is a natural truth that we are at once subject to and beholders of the miracle that is the webbing and cycling of life. We are humbled by nature-- by the absolute gift that anything exists at all, and further by the awesomely powerful and diverse assemblage of creatures and ecologies that allow us to live each day. We are humbled by the temperament of the firmament--the climatic conditions, weather events, and natural episodes to which we can expect to adapt by more extreme measures in coming years. We are humbled by our utter dependence on this earth, this water, this air, and the lives of plants and animals for our sustenance. Finally we are humbled by the inevitability of death, which is in turn the foundation of all life. We are vulnerable to nature but we are not in a helpless position, for we are conscious animals with the ability to serve as stewards, protectors, and cultivators of this planet and the myriad life forms it hosts. How lucky we are to be able to perceive our own perceptive ability and to be able to imagine and create! It is true that every living thing dies and is returned to the earth to feed the next generation, so we must design our systems of subsistence and our psychospiritual modes to improve in health and resilience with each generation.
It is a natural truth that love is the most important thing in the universe. Seriously, to love yourself and to love everything you encounter as it is yourself. To treat yourself, other people, and your surroundings with compassion, with a tender ear, with careful kindness, and with gratitude. Our thoughts and emotions have an energetic reality that influences our vitality and that interacts with the beings around us and the entirety of the weblike network of universal energy. The craft of keeping the light of love alive in the heart, fed by the heat of heaven, is like tending a hearthfire for the whole family. Pure love naturally creates protective boundaries while knitting connectivities among networks; it is a balm for the wounded or weary soul; it inspires creativity, comfort, joy, and peace; and quietly, it is fierce enough to kindle a cultural revolution that affirms the sacred divinity in all of life.