In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other more secret,
moveable and frighteningly honest world where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth, you are not an accident amidst other accidents; you were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window toward the mountain presence of everything that can be what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky? Is it waiting in the fertile sea? In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself? In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?”
— David Whyte
Planetary transformation seems to be accelerating. Apparently the UK is going to have the worst winter in 50 years and perhaps this thought has put me into a reflective mood. After financial markets recovered following the GFC, the world was hit by the worst ever civilian nuclear disaster in Fukushima Japan. Now we are seeing the largest movement of refugees since the Second World War in Europe. Today German – and European – friends were shocked by the news that Germany has temporarily exited the Schengen agreement as it’s being flooded by refugees –
Many of my friends are starting to have realisations like this journalist’s “Saul on the road to Damascus moment” that perhaps it’s our foreign policy in the Middle East that’s causing this crisis.
On the financial front, many large countries are suffering from serious crises: Brazil, Russia, China and soon, I think, the US. Statistically rare events seem to be occurring in markets with greater frequency: the oil crash, currency moves (with many Emerging markets seeing currencies fall to 10-20 year lows) and the New York Stock Exchange inexplicably freezing for several hours.
I also think that politics are reflecting the instability in society with the appearance of non mainstream parties and candidates. In the US, Donald Trump materialises on the scene from nowhere and now the UK Labour Party votes in Jeremy Corbyn. This is what the FT said about his election:
“That Labour should have elected, by a 59.5 per cent majority, a man in his mid-sixties whose politics have been ardently leftist for four decades, either shows it has lost its mind (as many of his fellow MPs believe) or that its 550,000 membership, many of these young and two-thirds recently joined, are on to something.”
This is manifesting the frustration with the current state of society and most people’s economic situation.
Deep down we all know that something is very wrong in our society today. We know that the environment is deteriorating (even if we don’t know whether it’s getting warmer or colder!), that the economy is a house of cards (even if stock markets have been going up) and that we live in an era of violence, not peace (even if our politicians and media try to hide us from this truth). And I think we also know intuitively that there must be a better way to live and organise ourselves. I met an incredibly articulate homeless man just north of San Francisco on my trip along the Pacific Coastal Highway last year and he seemed to capture the sense of the nation and perhaps the world, saying that everyone was now just “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” The first shoe was the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09. I read in a You Gov survey this morning that approx one third of the US public would support a cout d-etat as they trust military leaders more than the politicians. I actually wouldn’t be surprised by such an event somewhere in the Western world, although people might think I am crazy. It’s my job to consider the unthinkable.
I spent the weekend with Bill Plotkin, who is author of Soul Craft, a wilderness guide and a depth psychologist. He takes people out in to nature to help them on their inner journey, and to find their life visions. Given that he travels across the US and meets many people who are trying to find themselves I thought that he would have a good pulse of how people are thinking. His view is that we are facing a planetary crisis, perhaps one of the worst for thousands of years. [My conversations with many indigenous cultures and spiritual leaders also reveal such feelings. It is also written in ancient scriptures that now would be a time of great change being at the end of a 5000 year cycle.] Bill said that when an individual goes through suffering, it is often the beginning of their inner journey. Pain or crisis is a initiatory process. When you go through the Dark Night of the soul it doesn’t feel good. When this happens to an individual it presents an opportunity. Some people die, some go in to some form of psychosis but more often than not, he or she embarks on a journey of self-transformation, which is liberating and ends in newfound joy and wisdom. I have had my own dark nights — and I know its often darkest before the dawn.
I don’t know what Bill is really thinking, I can only guess. But I think its going to be the latter, that the Earth is in the middle of a transformative process.
This notion of the collective and individual journey is interesting. And I have often reflected upon it. But like many others who care about this world, it can be easy to be overwhelmed – “what can I do??!” At such times I like to consider what our wise ancestors taught us. In the words of Rumi –
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
I think that when we all look inside, and sincerely seek to connect to our inner creative and wise true self we start to make different decisions. It’s so important that we are doing this inner work at this critical time of human history. I suggest 2 dimensions to it. First, develop a meditative technique or prayer. It could be zen, yoga, vipasanna or time in solitude seeking guidance from God. Second, seek your true purpose or direction in life. Bill Plotkin (and I) organise Vision Quests where you go into nature and get signs as to what this might be. We usually find that it’s to share a gift with our community. This is a time where the world needs more people acting from inspired purpose.
Just before I pressed “publish” on this post I bumped into a friend called Jeff, an Englishman who has been living in California for 40 years or so and witnessed the whole development of Silicon Valley. He is now retired but believes in the importance of eldership at this time and is doing important work mentoring the younger generations, and as such has a very insightful eye. We reflected on the fact that humans appear to be the only species in the world that can have profound evolution – even revolution – without changing our anatomy as we can change so much with the power of our mind. It also can happen in a split second. If you think about this on a planetary scale, it gives one hope. Change can be quick and non-linear.
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