“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
~ Robert Schuller
For many people on our planet today, times are tough. Even in the United States, among the most prosperous nations on earth, many are suffering in serious ways – from poverty, disease, discrimination, and the like. Others are finding the political turmoil of current times to be very difficult to live with – they are feeling increasingly hopeless.
We can look at all kinds of reasons for this – but that is not the point of this post. What I wish to address here is how to apply New Thought spiritual principles to our lives at times like these – including being careful how we label such times. We are in the midst of vast emerging change driven by cultural evolution. It is critical that we stay deeply and consciously rooted in our spiritual nature so that we remain strong and effective in directing our lives.
“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word love here not merely in a personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace —not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
~ James Baldwin
There is more to you than meets the eye; more than you can even imagine. You are born out of and remain within an Infinite Spirit and your good, your peace of mind, are not determined by external factors, by who is in what political office, unless you allow them to be.
New Thought teachings are about the realization of an empowerment, a birthright, which has always existed and never been diminished. It is not a teaching about how to hide from harsh conditions – it is a teaching about how to transcend them by transforming consciousness.
“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”
~ Zadie Smith
There are, of course, times when we are seriously wounded, times when a retreat is necessary for healing, however, such times are relatively rare when you think about it. I hear people saying they just want to go and hide until everything is better. These voices are more numerous today, driven by the antics of the current administration in Washington, or by some other more localized difficulty. These issues do not warrant hiding or retreating, they warrant standing in our full power and integrity. We are all capable of crafting creative change in our systems – all of them. This requires the deep realization of inner strength and a practice of being in dominion emotionally – even on Facebook and Twitter.
“People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in—told that they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this.”
~ Stacey Jean Speer
Most of life is challenging in one way or another, and we have our own devices to make it more challenging than it needs to be much of the time. It’s called self-sabotage, and it is yet another proof of our power over our experience, isn’t it? Metaphysics tells us that everything that comes into our experience contains the potential to bring forth something new and more useful from within us. What is being called forth from you in these times?
“Be patient and tough. Someday this pain will be useful to you.”
Toughness is something that is rarely talked about in New Thought circles today (in my experience anyway). We talk about being loving and heart-centered and often speak of these qualities as if toughness were not an important aspect of their expression. I think that in trying to move away from the perceived authoritarianism of our past (and of our own personal pasts), we have become so non-authoritarian as to be largely ineffectual in the world – and, I suggest, this is also too often the case in our own lives. The pendulum has swung a bit too far in the opposite direction – there is little to no authority in our organizations today – and too little in how we practice our teaching. (LINK to posts on the Green vMEME) We are called to find a more balanced approach – to express our authority in ways that are both clear and compassionate.
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
~ Anne Lamott
There are limits to our ability to apply our principles. We may not like to hear this, but it is the truth. Those limits may be conditional – I may not have developed the consciousness to simply think peace on earth into existence yet – but I suspect that many are more than conditional. I believe that we do not single-handedly create reality – we influence external reality, which we co-create with others. We are the sole creators of our experience of that reality. This means that we must find ways to cooperate with others to change things beyond our individual capacities to heal.
The word courage means strength of the heart. Loving people – truly loving people – are very tough – they do not abuse others and they do not allow others to abuse them. Toughness in a heart-centered person respects boundaries, speaks Truth to power, holds themselves and others accountable, and expects the best from themselves and others. They live courageous lives, which, when practiced regularly, becomes a natural way of being.
“We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
I question I often ask myself is “How does a student of New Thought refuse to engage the outer world when so much of that world is in pain?” Aside from personal fear, which is normal and can be overcome, how have we come to align with belief systems which propagate suffering and inequity, or which believe in scarcity and lack? How do we not stand for justice, help the needy, spiritually educate those willing? How do we bicker, argue, and engage in endless circular conversations on social media (including our list serves)? How do we fail to do our own spiritual practices in a rigorous way – leaving our fears not soothed, our wisdom and strength not energized?
I plan to focus the remainder of 2017 on crafting a new vision for my life in 2018 – to be more present, more authentic, more focused on being my True Self, and more of a contributor to the world around me. And to be a better husband, father, friend, and citizen (of the world). I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.
“You must be willing to change. You must be willing to break the deal you made with the devils within. You must be willing to leave the past and not be tempted to rebound when times are tough. You must be willing to let go of everything and anyone that takes you back to your mistakes. You must be willing to have hope. You must be willing to have hope that you can change and that you will and that you will be better. You must believe you are worthy of change and you are worthy of improvement and you are worthy of being the best. You must be willing to set aside your negative notions about life, about hardships, about people, about things, about yourself. You must be willing to stop feeling sorry for yourself while looking at the world move around you. Get up and make something of yourself.”
~ Jack Barakat
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Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard
I will be speaking at a special event in La Jolla, California in January – the information and registration is at this link: http://lornabright.com/gathering/