WHY WE RESIST CREATING A BETTER WORLD

“What does it mean to be healthy in an unhealthy system?”

~ Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles

What would your life be like if every choice you made were, psychologically and spiritually, a healthy choice? What would our societies be like if that were true for all, or at least a large majority of us? What if we only elected people, or made healthy choices about who would lead us, who were themselves likely to make healthy choices?

To the degree that you recognize how things would be different, or at least that they WOULD be different, you are recognizing how often choices and decisions are NOT made in healthy ways. We are the inheritors of societies and cultures in which many, many unhealthy choices have been made, resulting in everything from wars to internal violence, to massive inequality, needless competition, opression and more. We are all, to one degree or another, wounded by this harshness and cruelty, yet we tend to go about our lives as if it were all normal, feeling somehow diminished that we are not stronger. Some of this is due to the inevitable growing pains of human development, but much of it is due to our failure to understand and foster human development in healthy ways.

“When our souls are wounded, they respond in ways terrible to themselves and others. They can only change themselves and their society when they become conscious of their wounds.”

~ James Hollis

We are taught, early on, what our worth is, what our role is, and how we are to see the world and other people. For the most part, we are taught this by people who have been wounded themselves and have developed a personality which either denies that wounding, or wears is as a mask of victimhood. My recent series on the wounded masculine in this society speaks to this as well (LINK).

This culture of the wounded wounding the innocent has produced a variety of results. Here is just one: if you look at the current situation with he COVID-19 virus, you can easilyly see that the virus itself is less of an issue than many of the responses to it – denial, fear, outrage, politicization. In this atmosphere, the virus multiplies much more than it would if we had a more unified, healthy response. It is as if we have developed a type of immune system which guarantees that healthy responses will be resisted. When we need healthy cooperation, instead we get unhealthy division and conflict, driven by people seeking power and/or acting from fear. We get conspiracy theories instead of relying on scientific guidance.

“The Waste Land is that territory of wounded people—that is, of people living inauthentic lives, broken lives, who have never found the basic energy for living, and they live, therefore, in this blighted landscape.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

The good news is that healing is always possible. It must begin with the individual and work its way outward to the larger community. We have among us the healed and healers, but they are too often subjected to that immune system response and dismissed; and there are many who are not healed who pretend to be healers. It makes for a landscape of confusion, which is another reason it is so important to do the work to allow that authentic knowing to emerge – this is known as discernment (LINK).

Healing is a return to Truth. It requires some degree of awareness that something needs to be healed, and some way to facilitate that healing. We either heal ourselves by changing our consciousness, or we use external people or modalities to allow us to bypass our lack of self-awareness or self-consciousness. Healing (enlightenment) is more about subtraction than it is about addition. We must dissolve the limiting consciousness with makes us attract unhealthy ideas, conditions, and choices so that our natural innate inner wisdom and compassion can emerge.

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

~Adyashanti

Many of the spiritual masters teach that what stands between our current circumstances and becoming spiritually awakened, or enlightened if you will, is not the need to grow, but the need to release. The mathematics of spiritual growth is mostly subtraction, the removal of limited belief patterns and the effects of trauma so that our natural, evolving selves can emerge. What needs to be added is awareness; what needs to be subtracted are limiting fear-based beliefs.

Instead, we are taught to strive and drive, ending up with little to show for it in terms of authentic fulfillment. We have created what we call “developed” societies which are unfair, overly competitive, and emotionally (and too often physically) violent. We hit our children, demean them, and they all to often grow into wounded adults and then prey on themselves and others. Wounded people wound people – it’s true. I tell people that the biggest challenge in my ministry wasn’t raising money or finding volunteers – it was getting people to believe that they are worthy of love simply because they exist.

The Apartment

“The Apartment” 1963 – Shirley McLain & Jack Lemmon

“If a person doesn’t know how they are wounded, they can deny the pain of others and the tragedies of this life. If a person doesn’t know how they are wounded they can’t see that others are wounded as well.”

~ Michael Meade

We have been conditioned to value our individual good over the common good (which is what wounded people do) and we are unhappy despite our great collective prosperity. For many, this false sense of well-being has come at the expense of others – individuals and entire races – who have been exploited and worse so that we could have the illusion of being self-sufficient. We are unhappier (LINK) heavily in debt, and angry – blaming others for our unhappiness. We too often elevate the most wounded among us to positions of power and wealth, assuming their worthiness because of their achievement or luck and then paying the price when they betray us. We are wounded, we have been for centuries, and we continue to wound each succeeding generation as we pass on our unconscious ways of seeing ourselves and one another.

Those of us on spiritual pathways find themselves too often trapped in unconscious conflict which denies us full access to our natural inner wisdom. We are wounded – all of us to varying degrees – and we have been conditioned to deny this deep truth. So, we seek a salve of peace and goodness, to detach from the cruel world around us, living in denial. Until we confront ourselves, we will continue to repeat the same individual and collective patterns over and over and over.

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift.”

~ Richard Rohr

What the kind of deep personal work, including shadow work can do is show us how to move through the inevitable conflicts, challenges, losses, and sadness of life, using these things as steppingstones to wholeness. We are not meant to have friction-free lives, quite the opposite; nothing in the universe is free of friction – things collide, burn up, explode. Our very existence was made possible by the explosions of stars and the collisions of galaxies. To see spirituality as a pathway to some form of catatonic peace is to misunderstand our own nature and the nature of the universe in which we exist. What we are called to do is to tangle with our demons, our challenges, and learn to live in this world the way it is. We have within us everything we need to do this, but we must learn to encourage it to emerge.

“Every single one of us has it within us to be patient, kind, and compassionate. And each one of us forgets this. A central task in life is to remember.”

~ John Campbell

Once again, we in New Thought have an advantage because our teachings encourage us to remember, to know who we really are, beings with the spark of divinity with access to an infinite store of potential. For many, that is a difficult thing to accept fully – it certainly was for me when I first found the teaching. My decades of conditioning about power being external to me, whether in an Old Testament God, an angry parent, a teacher who shouldn’t have been teaching, friends who lacked the capacity for compassion, wounded all, through them I had formed my self-concept and worldview.

It took several years of classwork, counseling, and community before I began to seriously accept my own agency and began to accept my divinity. As I learned to work with the Law to manifest more good, I was also learning to embrace a greater idea of Spirit. The ensuing 25+ years have been about refining and deepening that realization while doing deep internal (mostly shadow) work to clear the way for my inner, latent, evolutionary development to emerge. In that process I have come to realize that my inner wisdom and compassion naturally seek to emerge. It was me and the fearful limited beliefs I had accumulated which narrowed the path of inner emergence to a trickle at times. I learned to forgive myself, then redouble my efforts, constantly correcting my course through spiritual practices and deep work.

I see this as a path to authenticity, to the deep soul-identity we arrive here with as an embedded potential awaiting recognition and emergence. Like a seed in a meadow, the conditions must be correct for germination and growth to occur. So, it is with each of us, we need to be nurtured and loved properly to encourage our authentic growth. To the degree that this has not occurred, we can seek to replenish what may have been missing from our upbringing, using clear ideas of wisdom and compassion as guides for the choices we make.

If I had made only healthy choices, what would my life be like? If I make only healthy choices from this moment forward, regardless of appearances, what can my life be like in the future? Can I commit to this direction, knowing that I will stumble along the path, but resolving to return to this deep intention no matter what?

If our society now made only healthy choices, would not the shift from racism, sexism, classism, ageism, policing, governing, and more be more clear? How do we increase the critical mass of healthy intention leading to healthy choices? I think through individual commitments to personal spiritual development.

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

Humanity is crying out for the release of our authentic potential. It is time for those with the awareness needed to recognize the need to direct our choice-making to come ONLY from wisdom and compassion; to do our best and trust that we will grow into the process over time. Through such an intentional practice, we can do our subtraction of the limiting beliefs and sense of woundedness which holds us in place. The time to begin is now. The place to begin is where you are.

“The lesson which these observations convey is, Be, and not seem. Let us acquiesce. Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits. Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

COMING SOON:

Hero Journey Save Date

DEFUNDING THE POLICE AS A COMPASSIONATE ACT

“To get through this time, you need foresight and the ability to envision the worst outcomes. People mistake that for pessimism but it’s really compassionate realism. The reason to envision it is to avoid it, to create contingency plans.”

~ Sarah Kendzior, @gaslitnation

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”

~ William Faulkner

Compassion is a big topic. I have blogged about it a number of times (LINK). This post will contain some specifics addressing the current issues in the United States. For my international readers, you will find some things applicable to your local issues as well, for compassion is in short supply worldwide. The quotes throughout the post can all be applied generally.

The focus here will be the idea of #DefundThePolice which has become an intentional catchphrase, particularly since the murder by the police of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The idea of defunding the police, if taken to its extreme, seems impossible, foolish, or an idea whose time has come, depending on your point of view. There are any number of definitions of what this means (LINK to chart) (LINK to article by former police officer), but I think that the most common is to take some money out of police budgets and refund many social service programs which have been defunded over the past few decades while making significant reforms in how the United States is policed.

As some of you know, before becoming a minister, I worked in law enforcement for 24 years. I saw much that I was proud of and much that I was not proud of during that time. I have no doubt that massive reform of policing is needed, particularly relating to the massive militarization of police culture which has expanded since 9/11 and which effectively sits atop a racist/sexist/classist culture within police agencies. Part of that reform must also be to recognize that the police are part of larger systems, including criminal justice, political, and societal systems. Therefore, changing the police culture is made more difficult unless we also work to change the culture of the larger systems to which police departments must answer, and with whom they must work.

I am sure that there will be many conversations, committees, task forces, and the like addressing the generalities and specifics of this issue. What I believe to be critical in these many processes is the recognition that what we are seeking is a compassionate society and the policies, practices, and politics required to create and maintain such a society. This, to me, is the “more perfect union” to which the US Constitution aspires as a living document.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Compassion is the highest possible human calling – it is the achievement of a true recognition of empathy and Oneness, divine within and divine without. It goes beyond sympathy to something much deeper and more profound. It is not easy to be compassionate due to our fear-based conditioning; our police forces as currently constituted are testament to this pervasive fear and its dominance in our society.

Compassion Slide

From Deep Change, Inc. – DeepChange.com

“You have to do the work to develop real empathy. There’s a cost to evolving: if you want your soul to cross the line, there’s no way around emotional work. Face that deep pain, and you gain tremendous compassion for yourself. You feel compassion for those who have hurt you because they were hurt themselves. To really make yourself available to consciously create a new future, you have to do that work.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

For many of us, compassion is aspirational – something we may strive to achieve, but feel is beyond us. Actually, compassion is within each of us as a natural human potential. It is a developmental step toward the best version of ourselves. It is a realization of true spiritual warriorship.

 “A peaceful warrior sheds the self-importance of ego and focuses on serving others with love, compassion, kindness and understanding for all.”

~ Puck Arks on Twitter

“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion.”

~ A traditional prayer to Kwan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion

Our compassion emerges within us when we have done the work and had the experiences to ready ourselves for it. It is beyond a consciousness of separation, of us vs. them. It is built upon a foundation of true empathy for yourself and for others. It is wanting the best for all and being willing so see through the actions of the fearful to their true nature.

The reality is brutal cops have very likely been brutalized themselves, or they have been shattered by the human misery they have encountered in their work. Unable to cope with this, it becomes shadow and compensatory behaviors are expressed so that the fear can remain hidden. Civilians become “them” and are treated accordingly. There are few departments with effective psychological support services, and police reward systems value numbers over quality; complaints against officers are expected and often covered up. Add to that a systemic culture which denies any other types of response to be valid and you have a recipe for disaster.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

~ Pema Chödrön

Over time, many social service agencies and programs have had drastic budget cuts or been eliminated altogether. Much of their work has fallen to police, who are neither trained for this kind of work nor inclined to do it. Most Defund the Police programs would transfer funds from police budgets for this kind of work to be handled by people trained to do it. This would be a compassionate response – including for the police, who are asked to do far too much in our society. There must be significant interim changes in policing, but large scale cultural change will take time and goes well beyond the police station.

If extraneous and improper duties are removed, then police can concentrate on what they are trained and inclined to do, but they will have to do much of it differently. What the current zeitgeist is calling for is transformational change in law enforcement and beyond – the demilitarization of policing is a start, and the recruiting, selection, training, and ongoing support systems in law enforcement need to be transformed as well.

“Righteousness goes beyond justice. Justice is strict and exact, giving each person his due. Righteousness implies benevolence, kindness, generosity…. Justice may be legal; righteousness is associated with a burning compassion for the oppressed.”

~ Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

We cannot really expect police as a culture to have respect for this king of righteousness until their support and evaluation systems expect and demand it. When I was in law enforcement, I never heard a politician (to whom police chiefs, hence police, answer) say anything off-camera except to be more forceful in controlling “criminal elements.” That almost always meant non-white people, which was often made clear. The key to getting ahead was to have good statistics without too many use-of-force complaints, and not getting on the news in an unflattering way. Taking extra time and effort to help someone usually cost you in your evaluations.

“The principal of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. This is the basic love, the charity, that turns a critic into a human being who has something to give to – as well as to demand of – the world.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

“When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do,”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Many, if not most, of my friends in law enforcement see encouraging compassion as a fool’s errand or worse. Their worldview often sees places where they work as jungles in which they have to survive. They see police leadership as being beholden to politicians and the media, and they have nothing but disdain for the media and most politicians. They smirk their way through various kinds of cultural sensitivity training and see “street justice” as the only kind most criminals will get. Within the cocoon of the police culture, which is tribal and family-like, they get nothing but support for these views.

Management guru Peter F. Drucker once wrote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can substitute training for strategy as well. Most organizational cultures are very difficult to change – in ministry among those of us who do that kind of work, we believe that it takes at least five years to implement culture change if there is agreement to make the changes. Where such agreement is lacking, it will take much longer. This issue of cultural intransigence exists at multiple levels in our society, and the police are one spoke on the wheel of public institutions and services. True change must come from the hub and work its way outward. In other words, true cultural change has to be systemic, have significant agreement as to goals and methods, and it will take time to implement. Even though that may seem daunting, it is worthwhile. And I submit that compassion must be a core value at the center of the hub of the wheel.

Compassion serves all constituencies, all communities, and the police themselves. Only a transformed way of viewing our society will lead to the array of public services which truly serves everyone and provides for a peaceful and sustainable way of living together.

Until we expand our capacity for compassion, we will continue to be in conflict and separation. Each of us is called to do our inner work to develop our compassionate hearts so that we can collectively do the outer work of creating a world where justice is realized and everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We are called to create #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone and to build #TheBelovedCommunity together.

‎”Having compassion does not mean indiscriminately accepting or going along with others’ actions regardless of the consequences to ourselves or the world. It is about being able to say ‘no’ where we need to without putting the other out of our hearts, without making the other less of a fellow human being. There is a difference between discerning and sometimes even opposing harmful behavior and making the other wrong – less than we are, less a part of that presence that is greater than ourselves- in our own minds and hearts.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 As always, your comments are appreciated and please share this post with others who may be interested. I know that this post is in no way a complete appraisal of the situations which currently exist and continue to unfold. I simply wanted to place the concept of compassion into the cauldron of alchemical elements from which we are co-creating our way forward.

Copyright 2020- Jim Lockard

TURNING THE TIDE ON RACISM

“Dear White Progressives, Liberals, and Moderates—especially faith communities, Don’t be cowards. Speak explicitly/directly into institutional racism, systemic injustices, white privilege, and against the dehumanizing/senseless murders of black people. Silence is participation.”

~ John Pavlovitz (LINK)

“The violence of racism is that it makes you believe that you have to be someone other than yourself in order to be loved.”

~ Clint Smith

Here we are again – actually, here we are still – seemingly eternally – in the throes of racial injustice in the United States. The sadness, anger, bewilderment, and grieving continue and expand. Perhaps we had set racism to the side so that we could deal with the coronavirus or with our divisive politics, but here it is again, right in our faces. The flashpoints this time – Central Park (again – LINK) and Minneapolis – points of drama in the continuing story of racism in the US, a non-stop parade of outrageous behaviors.

Already the usual comments are coming forth from all sides (yes, there are many sides to this seemingly straightforward issue) as we repeat the patterns from the last time and the many times before that. The repeating of patterns – a period of arousal followed by settling back into quietude (for most), hoping that this time it will be different – is what an addictive process looks like. It is what happens in families, communities, nations ignore a problem until you can’t any longer, then follow your personal pattern of outrage or retreat, wait a while, then settle back into ignoring it again as you hope that “someone” does “something.” In personal relationship, this is what is called codependency (LINK). This is a form of withdrawal.

We hear that our racism is “systemic” a lot, which it is, but I wonder how many people fully grasp what that means. It means that racism is an integral part of our societal systems, that our society as it is constructed cannot operate without racism (LINK). Has it ever? What would make you think that this integral part of our society would simply fade and vanish? It is interwoven into our culture like the different threads on a loom – pull one out and the whole fabric dissembles. Eliminating something integral means taking the whole system apart and reweaving it with something different replacing what was removed. Not a simple task. It requires the opposite of withdrawal – which is engagement.

“In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs. We believe this even when we are actually being racist.”

~ Ta-Nehise Coates: The Good, Racist People

Until we are able to see this systemic issue for what it is, we will remain in this loop of upset and ignorance and continue a destructive pattern of withdrawal. Racism is like a cancer which has metastasized but it felt in only one part of the body. The entire body is affected, but if we focus only on where it hurts, ignoring the rest of the disease, we will never heal. My experience of racism has been through the eyes of others – minorities whom I have know or read about or whose books I have read – I have never had an experience of racism directed AT ME. I do not know what that experience is, but I can imagine few things worse.

And there are many, many ways which racism affects people which I might never even notice as they are so embedded in a societal system which benefits me as a straight white male. I used to make the mistake, out of ignorance, of thinking that racism was about overt acts done by mean people; but it is much more than that, often blending in with what appears to be kindness and openness.

“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework – besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates in systems and structures enabled by nice people – is that it obligates me to be nice in return, rather than truthful. I am expected to come closer to the racists. Be nicer to them. Coddle them.”

~ Austin Channing Brown

Calling for increased kindness speaks neither to the oppressed nor the oppressor. Neither sees kindness as a pathway to their goals. Being an example of kindness is another matter. Developing the inner strength to be consistently kind, even in the face of contempt, is a worthy ambition, even a necessary one. Can I be “prayed up” enough to be kind wherever possible AND to stand up to bigotry and injustice when I see it? Can I speak for the oppressed, speak truth to power, speak to those who commit unjust acts firmly, assertively, but with love in my heart?

And how to deal with my anger? In my case, my anger is mostly relating to shame and to impotence. What can I do to make a difference? I am an old white man living in Europe. I did not do all that I could have to foster anti-racism in my life – in some cases, sadly, I did quite the opposite. My anger is different than the anger of a black person in the US, or a queer person, or any other person whose identity is outside the power position that I happen to occupy for no other reason than my identity at birth.

“Anger is a necessary, appropriate, and useful response to this kind of injustice. It is the beginning of social critique and helps us protect the appropriate boundaries for ourselves and others. Yet anger can be dangerous, too. When it hangs around too long, it becomes self-defeating and egocentric. Then it distorts the message it came to offer us. We can become so intent on pointing out problems that we are never actually willing to be part of the solution. As I like to say, the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better, not more criticism! The question of true conversion and solidarity is, ‘how can I work through my anger and get to the other side, so I can be a life-giving presence with and for those who are most suffering?’  For oppressed communities, however, anger can be a form of survival, a necessary stage on the path towards healing. Listening to such anger with compassionate friendship can itself be a form of solidarity.”

~ Richard Rohr

I will continue to be a voice for justice, for love, for unity, and for compassion in my way. I pray today for the residents and the police of Minneapolis and for the people involved in the Central Park incident. I pray for us all.

I trust that you will find your role to play in the healing of our society in the unfolding and evolving human story. Begin with prayer and move outward to action.

May peace prevail on earth. May we, together, build #TheBelovedCommunity

“Prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.”

~ Ernest Holmes

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

IS COVID-19 HAPPENING FOR A REASON? DOES ANYTHING?

“As a new thought minister, I cringe when I hear someone say, “everything happens for a reason.” There is a misleading connotation in that statement that smacks of kismet or fate, which rules out self-determination. However, what I believe is trying to be said is; Everything is an effect that has a Cause.”

~ Rev. Dr. Carol Carnes

We all interpret reality through an individualized lens. This lens is based on things like our level of personal development, our experiences, our biases, our stage of cultural development, and more. Everything from spiritual principles to daily experiences are interpreted according to this lens, which itself changes over time as we develop and as experiences affect us. Dr. Carnes’ statement above comes from her own lens and how I read it and you read it is largely determined by our own individualized lenses. Fortunately, these lenses overlap sufficiently for us to communicate – in a general sense anyway. I think that we would be amazed at how often we misunderstand and are misunderstood, but such is life.

Much of the difference in interpretation through our lenses has to do with our capacity for complexity of thought and other factors (LINK); in some ways, humans do not do well in understanding certain types of issues. We desire either/or answers when the solutions, if there are any, lie in one of many “gray areas.” This relates to cultural evolutionary theory and the Spiral Dynamics Model (LINK) addresses this quite effectively. The aspects of our reality I want to address here are some key spiritual principles from New Thought teachings.

Does everything happen for a reason? And what do we mean by that statement? It will mean different things to different people. In a similar way, great books such as The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes can be read at different levels. Each time I review that book it is like I am reading something new. This is because I have changed between readings; I have developed, hopefully in a positive direction, so I see things differently. Different aspects of the book come to my attention.

Holmes & 1926 Text

Here are a few statements relating to things happening for a reason from the writings of Ernest Holmes (underlining added):

“Every person is surrounded by a thought atmosphere.  This mental atmosphere is the direct result of thought which in its turn becomes the direct reason for the cause of that which comes into our lives.” ~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind & Success (p. 11) & Science of Mind, 1938  (p. 294)

“The Law never reasons with us, saying, ‘You know, I don’t think that would be a good thing for you to have.’  We have faith in the undeviating neutrality of the Law.  It has no preferences.” ~ Ernest Holmes

Everything that happens to us must start with the movement of intelligence within us, which is a movement of our word or contemplation or meditation within ourselves.” ~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind (p.201) 

 Holmes taught that we work within an impersonal Law which could not be broken and which had no preferences. He taught that our life experiences are the result of our own mental atmosphere (consciousness) which we develop and which we can change by changing our patterns of thought and feeling. The Law acts upon our current consciousness, which determines how we relate to and experience the world around us; something often called the Law of Attraction.

This begs the question of how and why reality arises as it does – where did this Universe come from and where is it going? Does that have anything to do with us or are we just passengers? How much effect can we have on our surroundings, and how would that be enhanced or limited by the effect of other minds and forms of consciousness? I believe that Holmes and other New Thought founders believed that to assume something close to total personal influence over our experience was optimal.

Was the COVID-19 virus generated in order to carry out some larger plan for humanity; was it created by human consciousness? Or was it to help your aunt Mary realize her own mortality so that she learned to relax a bit an appreciate life more? Was its reason global or personal or both? Who or what generated that “reason” or purpose? Are such events, when they happen, part of a larger plan unfolding which was or is determined at a Universal level? Or are we all smaller individualized expressions with appropriately smaller fields of influence? Are we all, like the cells in our own body, part of a larger whole of which we cannot conceive, and our individualized efforts in consciousness are co-creating the expression of the whole? Can I get my head around such a concept and the inherent mystery within it – or do I perhaps need to “know” an answer because I am thinking at a level which does not allow me to accept some inherent mystery paradox in my conscious awareness?

There is a rational scientific lens (Modernist-Orange in Spiral Dynamics) view of this virus – and I think that Andrew Sullivan illustrates it very well in this quote:

“The truth, of course, is that plagues have no meaning. All they are is a virus perpetuating itself inside and alongside us. Period. We know this now — unlike many of our ancestors — because of science. Many epidemics will appear to target certain groups or spare others, but that is a function, in most cases, of biology, or behavior, or a relevant social structure. There is no viral intention. There are merely viral effects. And they are explicable. The Europeans were not spared smallpox for divine reasons: They had acquired immunity in Europe, while the Native Americans had none.”

~ Andrew Sullivan, The Intelligencer, New York Magazine 2020

Orange vMEME

Such a view is based on a lens which accepts that what is called objective reality, that which can be observed and measured by the human senses and their extensions (telescopes, microscopes, etc.), is all there is. This can be a satisfying approach because it seems to have the answers, but we know (as did our ancestors) that there is more to life than meets the eye.

Seeing beyond objective reality is remarkably interesting but can be very perilous. This is because what is beyond objective reality is beyond our major senses and is therefore ripe for conjecture, projection, and falsification. The more mature levels of spiritual understanding recognize the mystery present in everything (including objective reality, by the way), and find ways to allow that mystery to exist without understanding it. Spiritually mature people are very skeptical of people who say they have the answers to the questions of the ages.

If we are to spiritually evolve we are called to more mature, complex, and paradoxical levels of thinking. But until we are there, we will have problems dealing with situations which call for higher-level realization, so often an either/or response remains our primary means of seeing reality. A danger of thinking that the COVID-19 virus or a hurricane came for the purpose of showing you a lesson, aside from being untrue, is that you can easily see yourself as exceptional. This kind of thinking can lead to narcissism, then to a spiritual arrogance which we have seen everywhere that religion and spirituality exist, and we all suffer as a result.

 

Beautiful BridgeAnother problem with this kind of thinking is what happens when events like the virus occur and one’s life DOES NOT improve in some way. It becomes quite easy to develop a diminished view of oneself, which decreases the ability to master thoughts and influence one’s own life and the world in positive ways. This level of thinking easily leads to magical thinking – a result of having a limited idea how reality works and having not evolved to a level which more readily accepts mystery and paradox. From such limited thinking we see the masses of simplistic answers and conspiracy theories which spread so much more easily since the advent of social media.

“Magical thinking is defined as believing that one event happens as a result of another without a plausible link of causation. For example: ‘I got up on the left side of the bed today; therefore, it will rain.’ . . . a more nuanced definition of magical thinking would be believing in things more strongly than either evidence or experience justifies. Though I can’t prove the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, because it has every day since I’ve been alive, such a belief couldn’t then be said to represent magical thinking. But because every person who’s ever jumped off a building or a bridge has gone down and not up, believing that flapping my arms hard enough would enable me to float into the sky certainly would.”

~ Alex Lickerman M.D., Psychology Today, 2009 (LINK)

It is not that conspiracy theories never turn out to be true, it is that the level of thinking which tends to accept such concepts is inadequate to the complexities, paradoxes, and evolving realities of the world in which we live. Magic thinking places power outside of ourselves, diminishing our ability to have dominion over our thoughts, feelings, and actions. We look for some external power to blame or to credit for our circumstances, which is not a health position to take. Or magical thinking can lead us to overstate our own power, setting us up for failure.

The idea that this virus happened for some specific reason leads neither to a successful life nor a helpful worldview. Seeing it as an opportunity for each of us to grow in some way is a more helpful viewpoint to take – it keeps the authority within where it truly resides and recognizes the truth that everything contains an opportunity for personal growth. The virus is just the virus, an entity among billions of others in an incredibly complex system of evolution, seeking to perpetuate itself. In that sense, its reason for being is the same as yours or mine – to be alive in a mysterious universe and use its consciousness to fully express itself.

“We could make no greater mistake than to think that we created either Life or Law, but it would be an equal error to suppose that we escape Life or Law.  We are subject to it but not in any predetermined sense, for no matter what happened yesterday we can change its sequence today.

~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind (p. 346)

As always, your comments are welcomed. Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Also, consider following this blog – you will receive an email whenever a new post is uploaded. Thank you for reading!

Copyright 2020- Jim Lockard

 

Mr. Electrico and Ray Bradbury

This post is unusual for this blog – I hope that you find it to be of value, as I did.

Bradbury0

As Ray Bradbury fans know, there’s a curious minor character named Mr. Electrico who turns up in his 1962 novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Bradbury always insisted Mr. Electrico was real but scholars never could confirm that. Then in a fantastic interview from 2010 by Sam Weller in The Paris Review, Bradbury tells the uncanny story of how he met the real Mr. Electrico:

…He was a real man. That was his real name. Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end.

The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said, I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill toward the carnival.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was running away from death, wasn’t I? I was running toward life. And there was Mr. Electrico sitting on the platform out in front of the carnival and I didn’t know what to say. I was scared of making a fool of myself. I had a magic trick in my pocket, one of those little ball-and-vase tricks—a little container that had a ball in it that you make disappear and reappear—and I got that out and asked, Can you show me how to do this? It was the right thing to do. It made a contact. He knew he was talking to a young magician. He took it, showed me how to do it, gave it back to me, then he looked at my face and said, Would you like to meet those people in that tent over there? Those strange people? And I said, Yes sir, I would. So he led me over there and he hit the tent with his cane and said, Clean up your language! Clean up your language! He took me in, and the first person I met was the illustrated man. Isn’t that wonderful? The Illustrated Man! He called himself the tattooed man, but I changed his name later for my book. I also met the strong man, the fat lady, the trapeze people, the dwarf, and the skeleton. They all became characters.

Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I’m glad you’re back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don’t know you. He said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I’m glad you’re back in the world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.

Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son, maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester. Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that. Maybe that’s what attracted him.

When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of “Beautiful Ohio,” and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and within days I started to write. I’ve never stopped.

Seventy-seven years ago, and I’ve remembered it perfectly. I went back and saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper, “Live forever.” And I decided to.

Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review via @Clnwlsh and The Anomalist)

For me, this Creation Story touches something deep within. When we are awakened to who we are, there are always elements of magic involved. Someone says or does something which triggers a deep memory within us – a memory of our true self. This story speaks to that idea so beautifully. I truly hope that you have had at least one Mr. Electrico in your life. I have, and it is something deep and wonderful. And, perhaps, you have been or will be a Mr. Electrico for someone else. What a privilege!

Bradbury4

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

CASTING A VISION FOR AN EMERGING FUTURE

“What looks like the end of the world today is often divine intelligence prodding us to incubate (to cocoon) to change ourselves from the inside out and emerge the butterfly. Don’t fight it.”

~ Nathalie Wynn Pace

We find ourselves in a unique time and situation here on planet earth. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we, well most of us, are in some form of isolation or quarantine, most of the global economy is on hold, most work is not being performed or being performed differently, and we face a future of great uncertainty. As we find our way in this current moment, learn to change our routines and our priorities, we come to a point where it is time to think about our future. It is time to cast a vision to pull us forward into what is next, even as we deal with the ongoing situations of the present.

In New Thought, we learn the power of intention can be internalized and accepted on the subconscious level. We also have adopted other technologies such as Visioning (LINK) (LINK to Theory U), which help us to access the deepest aspects of our intuitive knowing in our unconscious mind. The key is to practice these and other techniques (meditation, contemplation, selfless service) on a daily basis to train our minds to be continually accepting of our highest good. And we stay focused in the Absolute realm in mind when we do our practices, ignoring any relative conditions which may be present and focusing only on feeling that the desired effect is already manifest.

Of course, as we do our practices, we open to deeper levels of acceptance and invitation, encouraging our evolution. When we are haphazard in our practices, we find ourselves treading water in the shallows of the ego – in ordinary consciousness.

Ordinary consciousness holds us in what we know, what we have come to expect, and in the accepted consciousness of our surroundings; what Ernest Holmes called “race mind.” If we are fearful about our acceptance by others or of straying too far from established norms, our imagination will be limited to what we already know, plus some small additions, rather that being available to radical transformation. Deeper consciousness, established through long and proper practice, opens us through a process of inner emergence to what is radically new and to possibilities beyond our previous imaginings. Remember, there is an intuitive visionary within you – it may just be covered by years of conditioning.

“Perhaps, some day, humanity can start afresh, a new world, a tabula rasa, a world with a mind without prior experiences. No memories and no pain. A day when the ones with abundance do not look down at the poor and the needy, a day when we learn to care for the victims, the fallen souls of civilization and advancement, a day when the world will be pure. When all of humanity becomes a clean sheet of parchment, without knowledge and prejudice, simple, hungry for knowing, tasting, and feeling; hungry for life and ready to absorb the ink of experience.”

~ Henry Martin, Escaping Barcelona

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Occasionally, living conditions for humans become so radically different that potentials open which would have seemed impossible before. We are in such a time. The wave of the pandemic may be seen as preparing us for the much larger wave of climate change which is already rising as a much larger threat to humanity and other life forms. If we simply choose to return to a previous normal after the pandemic, we will show that we have not learned its potential lessons and we will likely be swallowed by the larger wave. This moment contains within it the possibility to reset and to invite an evolutionary jump in our consciousness. We either maximize that evolutionary opportunity or we will not be ready for what is coming next for us.

“An evolving system cannot return to the past.”

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard

Cartoon - Evolution - More Steps

Our evolutionary impulse is being called forth by increasingly complex and challenging living conditions, and we are each called to listen deeply and open to personal and collective transformation. Who we have been is inadequate to the emerging future. Intention is powerful but it must be reinforced to build belief and then to transcend belief and become knowing. There is no substitute for daily practice to develop our mystical and psychological faculties to work together for our greatest benefit, both as individuals and as part of any community.

“In order to manifest you must assume the feeling of the (intention) fulfilled. You must be able to feel it in your body long before your senses are aware of it. Your inner pictures and the corresponding feelings that are connected to your vision belong only to you, and you begin to treat this inner world of thoughts and feelings as sacred territory. You make the shift from believing to knowing, and what you absolutely know is not tinged with doubt.”

~ Wayne Dyer

In terms of personal growth, my lodestone is the direction to which my authentic feelings point. I say my authentic feelings, because it took many years of practice to discern those feelings connected to my intuition from those connected to my fear-based ego. But when I attune to those authentic feelings, I have a North Star to follow. In setting my intentions, I may not know what form their manifestation will take, but I always know how I want them to FEEL. That feeling becomes my guide and the expression to which I compare any forms which appear to see if there is a right fit.

Each of us has latent genius within. We are evolutionary beings designed to emerge, layer by layer, in response to an increasingly complex environment. The tools for managing and supporting our evolutionary growth are our spiritual practices. Your inner genius and mine will only be fully and usefully revealed when combined with powerful intentions supported by serious practices. If we are to flourish ourselves and contribute to the flourishing of others, we must be all in. We must, as the great Patanjali put it: “seek enlightenment as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.”

“What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can.”

~ Ken Wilber, One Taste

We share the passion of our emergence by connecting with others, by finding like-souls who are committed to bringing us to something better together. We speak up and speak out according to our individual natures, but we determinedly contribute to a better world, regardless of our temperament. As we evolve, we become focused on our good and release any concerns about the judgement of others. We leave the opinions of the world and become our own authority – but an authority with rigorous standards based on deep inner work.

We contemplate our intentions, play with them, expand them, deepen them. We allow our deepest intuitive wisdom to be free of our ego’s need to limit our access to the unknown within us through rigorous and regular practice. We vision and envision, we seek and explore, we love and connect. The mystic within us sees through sacred eyes, as we do our spiritual practices to remove the scales of limitation, fear, and cynicism. We emerge as a new level of evolutionary being, one suited to confront greater challenges, and to respond with strength, wisdom, and compassion.

“If we look with cynical eyes we see a truncated vision, bereft of hope. . . .It is with sacred eyes that we can see the larger, more realistic, picture. Sacred eyes can penetrate through the opaqueness of materialism and reductionism, and can sort through the chaos of our current time to see the emerging values of the 21st century.”

~ Robert Keck, Sacred Eyes

Oh yes, and JOY. As Joseph Campbell pointed out, “We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can learn to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world.” This means that we can strive to know our own divine nature regardless of outer circumstances; that we can best serve when we know the bliss of this divine nature; and that in experiencing this joy, we are simply knowing who we really are. Then, we are ready to show up and co-create a world that works for everyone.

Navigating a culture

towards conscious impulsion

with unshakeable vision

while at the same time

honoring its sacred heritage

is not for the faint of heart.

~ Unknown

As always, your comments are encouraged and welcomed. As you do your practices, what visions arise – personal or collective – for the time after the virus? What are your thoughts about the possibilities for new ways of being happening in our societies? What are your visions for New Thought in the world? Your intentions for the next chapters of your own life?

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

ISOLATION AND THE RE-EMERGENCE OF SOCIETY: SOME THOUGHTS

“. . .the frenetic pace of life has subsided. We’re no longer hurrying around, taking kids all over the city for friends and hobbies. There are no social engagements. It feels as if we’re in a cross between hibernation and meditation, hunkering down together to discern what really matters in life. I am, on the whole, unconcerned about our children’s education because this is a unique chance for them to step off a fast, ferocious treadmill. They can just play cards, table tennis, or – some hope – read books.”

~ Tobias Jones

As we begin the phase of getting used to self-isolating, we may be finding that there are things about ourselves that we either did not know or had not experienced in some time. How we respond to being home in an enforced way; how we respond to prolonged periods alone or with our shelter-mates; how we respond to demands from work or the fear associated with having lost our job. An article (LINK) by Tobias Jones, journalist and author in The Guardian triggered some of these thoughts for me.

After a week or so, we may be moving toward some kind of schedule or routine. Maybe we are consuming entertainment, reading books, or playing games with the family. Maybe we are beginning to contemplate who we are without our normal routines and the various aspects of our identity associated with being out of our homes some or most of the time. We begin to wonder what things will be like when this phase of the pandemic is over. How will the world be reordered (or will it)? From such thoughts arises our sense of vulnerability to our living conditions.

“I’m not fetishizing vulnerability. It’s a frightening thing. But vulnerability brings humility and reflection. And one of the blessings of this dark season is our awareness of the fragility of our arrogant society. It seems, too, that we’ve woken up to those who are most defenseless. Sure, there’s self-interest in our new-found empathy, because in a pandemic you’re only as safe as the most vulnerable. But contagion at least means that the vapid slogan from the last crisis – that ‘we’re all in it together” – might this time be true.”

~ Tobias Jones

Can a shift in our thinking about what it means to be in society together – at every level from household to globe – emerge from this crisis and lead us to a greater wisdom in co-creating sustainable and livable societies on our planet? Can we be truly more inclusive and appreciative of diversity of all kinds so that we can weave stronger and more compassionate communities? It is being reported as I write this that the European Union is placing an environmental focus on economic recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic. That is a good sign. In fact, the basics of the so-called Green New Deal in the US would have provided a much better prepared set of systems, including health care, logistics, and industry, than is being experienced currently. Shouldn’t groups such as Extinction Rebellion (LINK) be at the table as future plans are developed? Who have we left out in the past? We are finding that it is the everyday people who truly make our communities function, aren’t we?

“We can no longer fail to notice those we have previously overlooked. The homeless – for whom the instruction to ‘stay home’ means nothing – are thrown into sharp relief on our deserted streets. We suddenly see that those who are still working in public, risking their own health – the cashiers, couriers and nurses – are those paid a pittance and often with no contractual commitments from their employers. Never has it been so apparent that our society is built on exploitation.”

~ Tobias Jones

Indeed, we are seeing how our society measures value – in economic terms for the most part – and how that can produce consequences which affect us all. Now, some of the lowest paid and purportedly least skilled workers have been revealed to be our lifeline when the fragile structure of our society is impacted by an invisible virus. Will we remember to reorder our priorities to reflect this when we are past this phase?

Oh, and brace yourself for this: If confinement measures work, those who advocated the strategy will be pilloried as Cassandras who shut down the economy for no reason, because “not that many people died.” There will be much acrimony when we come out of this isolation phase by those who have lost something they value – if it is only their sense of being self-righteous. But we must keep our focus on what we are creating together – societies which serve as living systems and  work better than in the past; economic systems which serve humanity rather than just a few; and governments which are truly representative of the people. We are being called to awaken a greater generosity of spirit in how we view ourselves and each other.

“If we look deep, close and long enough, if we become still and allow ourselves to be empty, we might see what happens here. Right now, in this moment there lies an expression of the eternal within us. No boundaries at all. Just compassion. In the hectic trance of our everyday lives this might seem cynical and ridiculous, but here during those weird days of isolation and politically induced slowness lies the glimpse of a new hope.”

~ Jan Kaspers (LINK)

Once again, compassion (LINK) is the key. The sense of oneness with all, with everyone, and the love and caring which arises from the compassionate heart. Perhaps, just perhaps, this experience is leading us toward that greater expression, even as we mourn those who are sick and dying, and we mourn the structures of the past which no longer serve who we are becoming. We grieve, we mourn, we hospice; then we midwife our new ways of being into form.

All of this is possible as we envision a reset of what community is and how it functions. The temptations to revert to the past will be strong, especially for those who benefited from those systems. It will take a strong collective will to bring love, wisdom, and compassion to the table. Let each of us be a voice for that level of inclusion, cooperation, and the immense potential of our collective hearts and voices. Perhaps the best way to spend this time of isolation is to do our inner work to develop and expand our capacity for compassion, wisdom, and love. And to envision a world that works for everyone as more than an aspiration – as a reality unfolding beginning with our intentions in the now moment.

“But it does feel as if the world’s reset button has been pushed, as if we’re defragging society’s hard drive. Once we boot up again, we might find ourselves in a better place.”

~ Tobias Jones

Peace - world

#AWorldThatWorksForEveryone #TheGlobalVision #TheBelovedCommunity

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

THE CORRECT RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

“Each (of us) is a different combination of experience, temperament, personality, physical make-up, intellectual curiosity, beliefs, and moment-to-moment attention.”

~ Derek Meador

We are all different in our responses and reactions. And we are different in our responses and reactions to different things. So, of course the idea that there is one way to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, or anything else for that matter, is preposterous.

Unfortunately, we don’t always remember this, especially when we feel pressured. We insist that there is only one proper response, OUR response, and that any other response is either inappropriate, wrongheaded, or even offensive. The result of this is that some people who have lots of anxiety about issues like this are angry at anything which makes them fearful; others, who tend to dismiss warnings and the like are upset that everyone is making such a fuss and panicking. Some criticize the use of humor online or in conversation, but some of us use humor to deal with stress and fear.

Some people self-isolated very early in the process (a wise decision in retrospect) while others still cavort in groups on beaches, at parties, and in coffee shops. How are authorities, and the media, and others supposed to craft warning statements and disseminate the news so that both of these groups can respond appropriately and so that neither is offended by the tone of the messaging?

“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.”

~ Marion Woodman

Clearly, some need to be threatened before they respond, while others take actions to isolate quickly. This is always the case, isn’t it? We respond differently, so we need to be approached differently; and hopefully, we have the wisdom not to insist that every message be tailored to our own sensibilities. As we do our inner work to transcend our own fears, our sense of compassion can arise.

What we are called to do, actually called to BE is a better term – we are called to be our best selves right now. And we realize our best selfhood by doing the necessary spiritual and psychological work to bring that innate selfhood to the surface of our lives. Our best self is open, magnanimous, kind, compassionate, and wise. This current situation with the COVID-19 virus is calling that best self forward, but so do our ordinary lives, perhaps not as urgently, but the call is ever-present.

“It’s the coronavirus now but it could’ve been something else. It could’ve been a bioweapon or nuclear disaster. Some symptom was bound to erupt of humanity’s reckless & irresponsible behavior toward fellow human beings, to animals and to nature. This is our wake-up call to change.”

~ Marianne Williamson on Twitter

Our calling and our task are not only to weather this current storm, but to find ways to respond so that we co-create new living systems which form the basis for a sustainable human presence on earth. Our focus must therefore be dual – on the present, making wise decisions about our behavior and finding ways to survive, getting ourselves centered and stable in consciousness. Also, our focus is on the future, as we allow new visions to gestate in consciousness so that we can assist in their emergence in the near future.

Our systems and institutions are being shaken by this pandemic, which may instill uncertainty and fear, but also creates space for something new to emerge. The earth must be broken for the plant to grow, and our existing systems, so many of them limiting and obsolete, must crack open for what is next to emerge. Then, we will need wise stewards of those process of emergence to step forward.

Each of us has something unique to contribute to this process. There is no script for going forward; we are writing the script together and it is important that the wisest and most loving voices be integral to the process. There is and will continue to be much fear expressed, but the voices of love must transcend that fear so that we collectively move forward and not backward. Fear constricts, love opens.

“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.”

~ William James

My suggestion is to include daily spiritual practices in your isolation routine and keep that dual focus in mind – the present and the future – as we co-create what is next for humanity.

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

GETTING USED TO UNCERTAINTY – PANDEMICS, CLIMATE CRISIS, POLITICAL CHAOS, AND MORE

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

~ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

I just returned to France after two trips to the US. We left on December 4th, visited Mexico for two weeks, then were in the US until late January, then back to France for a couple of weeks to renew our visas, then back to the US for the Centers for Spiritual Living (LINK) Convention in Denver and a visit to New York to see our daughter and celebrate Dorianne’s birthday. During that time, the world news has been filed with crisis after crisis. How are we to come to terms with all of this? How do we stay healthy and balanced and attend to our own life issues?

If you have followed this blog for a while, you have probably noticed that I often write about uncertainty and chaos as effects of rapidly changing cultural evolution. The rate of change is speeding up, and bringing with it lots of side effects, the largest of which is a growing inability to predict the future. Greater complexity means that just about everything has more factors, seen and unseen, affecting possible outcomes and blurring our ability to predict. We are all in uncharted waters and the knowledge and experiences of the past have an increasingly limited ability to help us as we move forward.

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We are seeing what appears to be (and too often is) a failure of our traditional institutions to effectively negotiate this increasing complexity. Those who feel left behind by the increasingly complex world in which we find ourselves are rising up and electing leaders who promise simple answers; answers which have no hope of success as they fail to even acknowledge the complexity of issues we face. Traditional religion is fading fast in the developed world as the magical-mythical deities and saints repeatedly fail to help believers to transform the present complexities into simplistic outcomes. Science continues to be reliable (for the most part anyway), because it is not about certainty. Science is about finding the most reliable way of thinking at the present level of knowledge. But as science grapples with greater complexity, it becomes more difficult for non-scientists to grasp, and is often treated with the same respect as opinion.

“. . . I worry that unwarranted certainty, and an under-appreciation of the unknown, might be our collective downfall, because it blinds us to a new dynamic governing humanity: The world is getting more complicated, and therefore less predictable.”

~ Farhad Majoo, NYTimes (LINK) (LINK)

While the forms of spiritual community and practice change with time, elemental spiritual principles are timeless: Oneness, the realization of our own spiritual nature, our ability to use our mind to think and to adapt to new conditions. All of these are as reliable as they ever were – we may just have to see and experience them in new ways. Today it is more important to adapt and change quickly than in the past. While in principle it has always been important to adapt to one’s environment, today conditions are less stable and predictable than in the past, so adaptation must be to a higher order of complexity than before. We must find new ways of being in relationship to one another and to our planet.

There is little that we can be certain of beyond our basic principles. This offers a lot of freedom, but also demands greater accountability to ourselves and to one another. The Mystery of Being is ever present, and the spiritual pathway has always been about deepening our realization of that mystery. What is visible is changeable. We are called to expand our ability to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable set of external conditions. The good news is that we have the capacity to adapt as needed.

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. It means fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate CHANGE.”

~ Eckhart Tolle 

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. This is true, whether it is about something like the Coronavirus (LINK), politics, our own health, or how to be in spiritual community together. By doing our spiritual practices diligently, we expand our capacity to live with uncertainty as we strengthen our awareness of our divine nature. Fear, beyond the “alert system” designed to make us aware of imminent danger, is a corrosive element which weakens our ability to see clearly and to respond compassionately. Fear drives us to make excessive and unrealistic demands on conditions and the people around us. It drives us from grace.

“We have certain ideas about how we want grace to appear. But grace is simply that which opens our hearts, that which has the capacity to come in and open our perceptions about life.”

~ Adyashanti

Fear constricts; Love opens. They cannot coexist in the same consciousness.

Fear leads us to weaken our body’s systems, to reduce our capacity for compassion in community, to make fear-based choices, to decrease our ability to discern wisdom, and to demand certainty, even when impossible. It can make us fear being less than experts on any topic and limit our ability to see how much we do not know.

Love allows us to strengthen our body’s systems, to expand our sense of compassion in community, to make better choices, increase discernment, and to embrace uncertainty. It can make us comfortable being amateurs. Love opens the way for our evolutionary process of the emergence of new adaptive capacities.

“Amateurs [are] just regular people who get obsessed by something and spend a ton of time thinking out loud about it… Raw enthusiasm is contagious. The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.”

~ Austin Kleon

Think of being an amateur as having a beginner’s mind. This does not mean to be ignorant, but to recognize the truth that there is always much we do not or can not know. We do the best that we can, always being open to greater awareness, being willing to change our worldview when it becomes inadequate, being willing to let go of what no longer serves us, being willing to live in the mystery.

Love and a beginner’s mind tell us to take reasonable precautions to protect ourselves, and also that no set of precautions makes us invulnerable. So have adequate insurance, wash your hands when viruses are around (LINK), be gentle with yourself and others when you don’t have all the answers, be rigorous in evaluating your information sources, stand up for your beliefs in a compassionate way, and no matter what, keep moving forward.

“It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time and you can be aware of them all.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

With right practice, we get better at things. Amplify and deepen your spiritual practices as necessary until you find that you are getting the results you desire. That means until you are moving toward a state of equanimity regardless of external conditions. Mastery comes as a result of clear intention followed by right practice.

We face the inevitable storms of life knowing that we stand a better chance of weathering them when we are more like the flexible willow tree than like the rigid oak. It is realistic to be optimistic when you have an honest assessment of your inner strengths and use right practices to expand and deepen your realization of the divine within you.

“Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

~ Haruki Murakami

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

UPCOMING EVENTS:

  1. I will be presenting at the Integral Europe Conference in Hungary in late May (https://integraleuropeanconference.com/)

  2. I’ll be a keynote presenter, along with the amazing Karen Drucker, at ‘The Game Of Life – And How To Play It’ – Using Spiritual Principles for a happier,healthier and more abundant life. June 20, 2020 in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire, UK    (NewThoughtNewYou)

  3. I will be a keynote presenter, along with the wonderful Lisa Ferraro, at the CSL Geneva New Thought Conference: THRIVE! BE SPIRITUALLY ALIVE!, October 2-4, 2020 at the beautiful Chateau de Bossey.  (http://www.csl-geneva.com/)

FINDING OUR WAY THROUGH THE CHAOS

The past two months have taken me to the U.S. and Mexico before coming back to France. Dorianne and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, stayed with friends and visited family in Southern California, and attended to some elder care issues for family members. I traveled to Washington DC to visit my daughter and Maryland to visit my aunt and uncle, now in their 90’s. I did a men’s retreat at CSL Simi Valley (LINK) and spoke at the Global Truth Center LA (LINK); later I spend a weekend with the leadership team at CSL Salt Lake City (LINK) and spoke at their Sunday service. While I was doing that, Dorianne was teaching courses in Mindful Leadership and more to students in Health Care Management in San Diego and Houston.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting trip, book-ended by long travel days, but all of it was our choice, which made it a bit more exhilarating and a bit less exhausting. Of course, during this time, climate change continued on its inexorable pace, the impeachment of the US President moved to the Senate for a “trial,” the Coronavirus (LINK) became news, and the usual litany of humanity’s agonies was discussed on regular and social media. What a time to be alive!

It is a great time to be alive, first because we are alive, and that is pretty great; but also, we get to live at a time which is calling forth great strides in human development. While this is often painful, chaotic, confusing, frustrating, and challenging, it is also filled with the opportunity to actualize potential at levels never seen in human history. Nothing short of this kind of growth in consciousness will take us to a sustainable future.

“Most people with an ear to the ground understand to some extent that the collective behavior of our species is unsustainable. Where they differ in opinion is on what should be done to address this problem. Where they unify in opinion is on the assumption that the solution will look like their own personal ideology winning out over all the others. Capitalists believe that capitalism will provide technological solutions to the problems that capitalism has created, and that this will happen more quickly and efficiently if the fetters on capitalism are removed. Socialists believe that socialism will solve the problems that socialism has been powerless to provide this entire time, if only this consistent pattern of socialism’s inability to obtain dominance is magically deviated from somehow. And so on.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone (LINK)

Driving around Los Angeles, I was struck by the magnitude of the challenge to shift away from fossil fuels in this car-dominated megaplex. What combination of technological advances and cultural willingness to change is required to shift to a more sustainable existence here? Where will the resources come from? Who will lead in influencing so many diverse people to make such a shift?

Our stuckness in our own ideologies is an enemy of collective progress. We are called to rise beyond political, religious, and philosophical differences and to contribute to a new collective wisdom. Being humbly unattached to our certainties and willing to explore different and new ideas is now an essential reality. As Alvin Toffler wrote in the last century, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Our answers lie not in our past, nor in what we know presently, but in our ability to merge our current wisdom with new thinking while releasing what no longer works.

“. . . if there is to be any deviation from our species’ self-destructive trajectory, the cause of that deviation will come completely out of left field. No one will expect it, because it won’t come from a direction that we have been conditioned through our experience to look. Our unpatterning will necessarily come from a completely un-patterned direction. A collective movement in an unprecedented direction will necessarily have an unprecedented antecedent.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

 “The problem isn’t whether or not, as I find myself being asked lately ‘we have a future’, but that we do, absolutely, have a future.”

~ William Gibson

Given that we are faced with a future which arises out of our present, there are questions I must face. Am I in a place where I can shift deeply held aspects of my beliefs and behaviors quickly enough to embrace something radically new? If not, is it something I can be working toward – the ability and a greater willingness to shift? How many of my comforts am I willing to do without?

“An epochal shift is taking place in the contemporary psyche, a reconciliation between the two great polarities, a union of opposites: a sacred marriage between the long-dominant but now alienated masculine and the long-suppressed but now ascending feminine.”

~ Richard Tarnas

At the men’s retreat on the healthy masculine (LINKS to past blog posts on this topic), we talked about such issues – coming to terms with our conditioning to abandon our feminine side and how to re-connect in a healthy way. We were confronted with the significant challenge to heal what we often did not realize was wounded, as we are so conditioned in society’s view of what it means to be a man. Women, along with men and everyone on the spectrum of gender have their own work to do in this regard, because only healthy masculine and feminine aspects (not genders – all genders contain masculine and feminine) can allow us the creativity to move forward.

Only through deeper spiritual and psychological exploration and practices will we be able to tap into the reservoir of genius within ourselves. This is what we are called to do by the world as it is today – to deepen our practices and be the drivers of the next leap of evolution as humanity. The alternative is to be driven by conditions produced by a collective consciousness of fear and ignorance.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within. From a structural point of view, the societal blind spot deals with the lack of these cross-sector action groups that intentionally operate from a future that wants to emerge. Instead, we see only special interest groups and three types of fundamentalism, each trying to solve our current mess in a single-minded way.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U (LINK)

Going beyond our settled notions of what works and what doesn’t is essential. Only by breaking through to new developmental levels and to new ways of seeing at every level will we move forward with a minimum of suffering and loss. Yes, it is that serious; the effects of our past ignorance and greed are rising up as the planet’s immune system seeks to rid itself of the disease called fear-based humanity. We are the disease, not in our highest potential, but in our collective actions up until now.

“So what you can do on a personal level is let go of your attachment to the known. Sell off all stocks you’ve invested in your conditioned mental patterning and begin doing the hard inner work necessary to embrace the unknown and unknowable. Begin surprising yourself, and opening doors to allow life to surprise you. Take chances on new and unpredictable situations instead of taking refuge in the known and the familiar. Give less and less interest and attention to your conditioned, looping mental narratives and more and more to the uncontrollable present moment in which literally anything can be born.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

I do not see my inner work as hard in itself; inner work is a joy. What is hard is peeling back the layers of the onion of my fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases. So I engage in my inner work, my daily practices, not a labor but as exploration in a field of love. My fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases are not held against me. They simply disappear when I replace them with a higher order of thinking and being. Our work together is serious and has huge consequences; it is too important to be left to chance. However, we must approach our individual work lightly, lovingly, with self-compassion and higher expectations. I know of no better way forward.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

I will be at the Centers for Spiritual Living Convention in Denver in February (CSL.org); also, I will be speaking at the Foothills Center for Spiritual Living Evergreen (LINK) on Sunday, February 16th and conducting a special interview with CSL Spiritual Leader, Dr. Kenn Gordon later that day at the Grand Hyatt Denver LINK to info – join us if you can!

Archives Denver Event