Being unafraid of this world’s pain

mindfulness-meditation-quote

This month I’ve been deep in contemplation about the world and about myself. Old questions have arisen with new urgency, such as Who am I? What is my reason for being here now? How may I best serve the world, and alleviate the suffering which seems to be everywhere? Some days I only crave solitude and stillness in order to listen deeply within. Other days I’ve sought the wisdom of other voices in order to help make sense of what feels utterly insane and incomprehensible.

Tonight I listened to a program by Bioneers, which was a conversation between several well- known wise women as they explored how Women and women’s innate knowing is a crucial piece to the process of healing our broken world. The speakers included Alice Walker and Joanna Macy, who both spoke passionately and eloquently on this topic. Joanna Macy is an activist, author and Buddhist scholar who has worked tirelessly for decades to support people in their journeys towards healing themselves and the planet. She has long taught a method called The Work that Reconnects. The gist of the method is that a person must be willing to dig into the pain which they carry (whether they are conscious of it or not) in regards to the state of our world. We must allow ourselves to feel the sorrow, anguish, rage, and despair that lives inside us which we usually stuff way inside and do not allow to consciously surface. It is through this allowing, Macy states, that we begin the process of healing both our individual and collective selves, and from there, our beloved, ravaged planet.

Clearly, this is difficult work on all levels. None of us wish to dig into our hearts and souls and dredge up painful emotions and memories. Speaking for myself, I admit that to consciously choose to look at the terrible tragedies playing out across our earth at this time is just about more than I can bear most days. It’s too big, too horrific, and too overwhelming to gaze with steady eyes and heart at what humanity is doing to itself and to our planet, our home. How can I possibly bring myself to take Joanna Macy’s advice and allow myself to feel the great weight of despair residing inside me? After all, I have to get up and go to my job, interact with other human beings on the daily, and if I truly allow myself to see what is happening in the world and to feel the suffering of those experiencing it, there is no way I will be able to function.

Yet, Macy understands deeply the Buddhist path to end suffering. She advocates that we acknowledge and feel the suffering, but that we don’t dwell there. Just as the Buddha did, we must work to find the place of peace and stillness within our soul that is untouched by the world and its vast drama. This is the most difficult and rewarding work we can do while incarnated. To be in the world and yet not of it means exactly this—we acknowledge the world’s suffering, understand that suffering is caused by mistakenly believing the illusion to be reality, and then stilling the mind and emotions enough to experience the truth—reality is not this three dimensional story of separation we’ve been telling ourselves for thousands of years. In fact, the earth itself is on a journey of ascending into a higher plane of existence, and those of us who are awake to it, are here to help it arrive safely, much like an army of midwives helping to birth the new age of Earth and of mankind.

I have a saying taped to a wall in my kitchen. It says,

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do Justly Now.
Love Mercy Now. Walk Humbly Now. You’re not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

When I become very quiet and still and can go beyond my ego mind’s chatter, then  I understand what the Buddha, Joanna Macy and many other wise teachers teach. Then, I acknowledge the pain and immense suffering of this world, while also calmly seeing that it all stems from the false belief that we are separate and discreet entities from each other, unconnected to Earth or to Divinity, the Great Spirit that dwells within each being. We have lost our way because we have forgotten our inherent connection to everything else. It’s so very easy to forget as we go through our daily routines. Other people are annoying, rude, ugly and every other negative adjective we can come up with. Why should we care about them? Why should we be kind or smile when they don’t care to return the favor? How can we bring ourselves to love those who are purposefully destroying all we love and wish to protect? To forgive those who bring pain and suffering to others and then lie, cheat, dominate and destroy? I mean, this is VERY big, and difficult work.

Coming back then, to Joanna Macy’s words that rang through my soul tonight, I get it. As unbelievably painful and hard as it is to see, acknowledge, and feel it, I know that the only way out of our global predicament is through. We cannot, we WILL NOT change our world until enough of us can do exactly this. Business as usual is destroying our planet bit by bit, fire by fire, melting ice cap by melting ice cap. We are all so busy running around our lives, failing to stop long enough to truly listen to Earth-Gaia-Madre Tierra, crying out for us to Stop, Look and Listen. To see what we are doing to our only home. To cry for what we have all done to Her. To find better, healthier, cleaner ways to live upon her, in harmony with her great cycles. Until we can collectively get on our knees and ask for her forgiveness, we will continue to teeter on the brink of extinction.

For those of you who would like to hear Joanna Macy, here are more links to some of her talks. Joanna Macy- Embracing Pain
Active Hope Show 1_ Prophecy of Shambhala Warriors

Preparing for the new decade of “profound truth”

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image credit: https://www.weforum.org

Hello dear Readers! I wish you all a restful and calm entry into 2020. By all indications, the decade and year ahead of us promises to be full of intensity, revelations, increasing awareness on many levels, and changes for humanity. I have heard it described as a decade of “profound truthtelling.” All this past year on this blog, I’ve written about the deep and profound changes our human race is continually confronting, or denying. 2019 brought many revelations about our collective shadow into the light, along with continued Earth changes and extreme weather events. For those readers interested in photojournalism, go to the New York Times, The Guardian.org and Time Magazine’s websites for amazing photo essays of not only the past year, but the past decade on Earth. We are truly all living through the most extraordinary of times.

On the eve of the 2020s, I’d like to offer a thought experiment. Let me take you forward in time about 500 years. Pretend that it is the eve of the year 2525. For the sake of this experiment, a few parameters are necessary. First, there are still humans living on Earth, and we look mostly the same as we have since the start of the 2000s. And there is still wild nature upon Earth, including land animals, creatures of the sea, birds, insects, temperate forests, beaches, rainforests, rivers, mountains, snow and the tropics. It has changed from what it was like a few hundred years ago, but still recognizable to those of us living in 2020.

Here is where it gets interesting. Beyond those basics of life on Earth in 2525, I’d like you to use your imagination to fill in the details of life on Earth. How do people live now? Are there vast cities, small villages, communities? What do people do with their time? Do they still have what we call “work?” What is life like for the children? Do families live together? Do they have pets? What kind of pets do they keep? How do people eat? Dress? Entertain each other and themselves? Are there many different cultures across the planet? How do they communicate? What is transportation like? Is the Earth clean, healthy, sustained without doing the planet harm, like in the old days of the fossil fuel wars? Have the Earth’s people learned to live in a peaceful way, and no longer harm and destroy each other and the planet? Have they learned to go beyond their base instincts and created societies without hunger, disease, and corruption?

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What might our world be like, and who will we be hanging out with 500 years from now?

Now think about how the humans interact with all the many beings from other planets and star systems they’ve come to know during the past 500 years. Once they stopped fearing the presence of galactic societies, the gateways opened and they began to have contact with many other races from within and beyond their own galaxy. After a certain point, old popular science fiction films from the 21st century were no longer fiction, as people realized their galactic and interstellar friends had been there all along, simply waiting for the proper time to reconnect. The reunions of humans with their star brethren were a joyous time for all. Instead of remaining in fear and dread concerning what they had once considered dangerous ETs, the human family as a whole learned to trust and rely upon vast assistance from their more advanced galactic friends. This process accelerated the huge undertaking of Earth’s cleanup and restoration towards the end of the 21st and into the 22nd centuries.

Dear Readers, I bring this thought experiment to you as a way to encourage each of us to take our future as humans living on Earth/ Gaia very seriously. For this brand new year and decade of the 2020s is an invitation to us all to use our powers of imagination and creativity for the highest good of our race and for our beloved planet. Can we lay down our old, tired fears and anxieties in this new decade, and DECIDE for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful to reign? Aren’t we completely exhausted from the old paradigm of negative and neurotic thoughts, of greed and war and corruption ruling humanity as it has done for millennia? If you, like me, are ready to create a world based upon love as the foundation, and can envision our world as peaceful, the people as fulfilled, joyful, and living in harmony with Nature, then please join me now and in the days to come in imagining a new world—Nova Gaia. It doesn’t have to simply be a nice, yet impossible dream any longer. The old, cynical point of view we’ve been fed throughout the past half century–that it’s impossible to create a better and peaceful world–must be buried starting NOW–There is more light pouring onto our planet than EVER before, more of humanity awakening to the possibility of a better, more just and healthy way for all to live each day, and an amplified presence of light and of love upon Earth. Critical mass for positive change is well underway, and the new decade will usher it in. Won’t you join our movement for a peaceful, just, compassionate, kind and loving humanity? We are many millions strong and growing bigger every day.

Happy 2020 to everyone! May you each be blessed in your lives with peace and love, abundance, joy, and with the unshakeable knowledge that a peaceful, healthy and abundant world is not only possible, but it is being created by each one of us who hold light and love every day through our thoughts, words and actions. I see the light within each of you, and honor your presence.

What is your profession?

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Blue skies in September are magnificent. Image via flickr.com

Ahh, September! The month that signals the end of summer, the start of the academic year, new projects, cooling breezes, blue skies and more grounded energies. I’ve always loved September.

This year is the first in the past few that I’ve not returned to classes since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree last December. Instead, I find myself with the intention of meeting my new, perfect, long-term professional work in the very near future. Sounds good, let’s get right on it!

Except that there’s a bit of a problem. I am one of those humans who has a very difficult time claiming to be an expert at any one particular thing. In fact, I’ve had several careers in my adult life that are seemingly unrelated. I’ve also done all sorts of paid work for money that could hardly be called a career. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’ve done what I needed to so I could keep my life and my family’s needs met and going as well as possible. There’s getting by, and then there’s that all-powerful, shiny, castle-on-the-hill word: Success.

Dear Readers, we all know that Success is a slippery slope by its very nature. It’s a word loaded with connotations in many directions, depending on who you are and your point of view. There’s worldly success, which is synonymous with money, fame, recognition, accomplishment at a career and all the trappings of such. We look to famous people we admire and believe they have achieved that shiny goal of worldly success. Then we might look at our own, much more humble lives, and wonder why we haven’t been able to achieve similar status. This is a familiar human pattern to many, and a painful one.

Throughout the years of my working life, I have come to know that my success at work is measured by a few key factors. They include: how happy am I when I’m at work? To what degree is the work itself interesting and worthy of keeping my focus and attention? Who are the people I’m working with, my colleagues, and how much do I enjoy being around them each day? Do I feel that the work I do there is making a positive difference to others and to the world? And, do I feel that my work and who I am as a person is valued and appreciated by the people I work with and for? These are important questions for all of us to ponder when considering a change in our worklife, or when doing the work of applying for new positions.

When I was preparing to finish my individualized degree program last year, I took a course to help promote my degree. The instructors emphasized the importance of memorizing our elevator pitch, the 30 second soundbyte version of what our degree is about. They even made us practice our elevator pitch in front of the class, which most of us managed well. In today’s internet-data driven world, even 30 seconds can feel like a long time. Technology seems to be relentlessly driving humans to do everything faster, including reading (mostly scanning), making decisions and yes, finding that ‘perfect, dream job’ that matches your skills, talents and deliverables with the needs and demands (often unreasonable) of the employer. As I search through job postings on sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, it’s nearly unfathomable to me to read the sheer amount of skills, talents and experience many employers expect the candidates to possess. One could even argue that some employers are looking for superhuman (AI?) candidates who can perform super feats of amazingness on a daily and hourly basis, all the while keeping a smile on their faces, a can-do attitude and retaining grace under pressure all day, every day.

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Online job searching can feel like you need complex positioning in order to apply. image via https://positek.net

There’s a whole new language for these job descriptions, compared to even a decade ago. Deliverables, flexible, nimble (like Jack of nursery tale fame), passionate, innovative, strategic –we are at a point now where humans are expected to create a brand for themselves, the same as a business or corporation does. My personal brand? This might not strike some of you reading as strange if you are a Millennial or Gen Z person. But to someone like me, who remembers a world where people were simply people, and our name and a simple resume of who we are and the experience we bring was enough basis for a decision to interview, the new personal branding strategies smack of artificiality and egoism. (Think Michael Jackson and David Bowie, who basically pioneered the personal brand phenomenon a few decades back.) Here’s an example of a portion of one job description I read this week:

Creates strategies around vetting, developing and implementing identified priorities,
Ensures successful implementation of all initiatives through the development of action items, performance measures, timelines and evaluation processes,
Provides financial oversight of initiatives to ensure they stay within budgetary constraints,
Oversees the implementation, necessary revisions, and data analysis of the Client Input Survey,
Supports the necessary implementation and advocacy required for the success of the program

What makes you unique? What do you have to offer that no one else has? These are the kind of questions career coaches love to ask. In a world of nearly 7.8 billion humans, it is clearly becoming a little difficult to stand out as unique. Yes, we are all snowflakes, but at the same time, it’s not easy to see the individual beauty of one when standing in a field of billions. And when AI robotics are culling through thousands of resumes, looking for matches with certain words to determine if that human will make it to the next phase of the recruiting process, well it just takes all the fun out of the whole shebang!

One site I looked on today asked me straight up: What is your profession? Now that is a loaded question for a person like me. For someone who has had a straight path in their career, and has one solid title for what they do (think attorney, professor, executive director, musician, etc.) this is a no-brainer. But for those of us who have explored many different paths during their work lives, answering that question can bring anxiety. Indeed, what is my profession at this point in life?

I’d like to answer that for both myself and all of you still reading this post. It may take longer than 5 seconds, so be prepared for more than a soundbyte answer. Here goes:

My profession is in supporting humanity to awaken to their potential as more evolved, self-aware and compassionate beings than they currently are. There is greatness inside each human, but most are asleep to their vast potential as creators of their own lives and caretakers of Earth who is their source of life. My work is to offer ideas, suggestions, inspiration and information, in order to assist any and all humans who wish to awaken to the truth of who they are, and change their ways of living to be in harmony with that truth. This work involves a high degree of idealism, faith in human potential, and extreme courage. It requires a kind of strength of character and tolerance for human folly that takes a lifetime to cultivate. It is arduous, tedious, and even excruciating at moments. But the rewards, when actualized, are greater than most can currently imagine. This profession is one that many humans have taken up during this lifetime, once they awakened to the great need that humanity is facing.

Dear Readers, this is my profession. It’s not one I can tick in a list of boxes, nor quickly explain in an online application to be read by a computer bot. This is why it is so difficult for me to “find a job” or “create my dream career” as the coaches like to suggest. They simply don’t know what to do with people like me.

Once again, I’m reminded of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.”