I wrote this piece when in the thrall of NYC life (November 10, 2011) during the last days of the Occupy Wallstreet movement.
Living in New York – is simply both an exhilarating and anxious experience. Often getting up and facing the day can feel like jumping off a cliff into a churning sea …. there is a promise of vibrant stimulation and also of being beaten and battered – just by stepping out of one’s door and joining the crowds. The challenge is finding that bubble of peace that will allow one to lightly engage and disengage, floating through it all, seeing everything, while avoiding harm and harming nothing. I think of facing a day in New York as a microcosm of facing the world today – all the challenges, the accomplishments, the despairs, the thrills, the mysteries, the traditions, the connections and disconnections of peoples and all the cultural baggage that comes with them. It makes sense that the “Occupy” movement started here.
But as the days go on, and there are no instant fixes to the myriad of problems that surround us, when our idealism and hopes wear thin – when we feel small to change even the least of our lives, let alone take on the corporate machinery that consumes the world, there is a perspective that at least gives me peace. It is a spiritual principle, shared by many faiths – that it is not our individual job to save the whole world, but rather to discover our part in the greater whole, and to do as best we can. That we are one of many, and we are not isolated and alone, and need to find a way to reconnect to our strength and power, and to the power that surrounds us – however you want to define it – that power is an energy that is greater than any one of us alone.
Waking up, and trying to sleep away my anxiety before I started chipping away at my many projects – the thought of which is overwhelming – WHAT have I got myself into?! Can’t I just hide from my life? I decided to listen to a podcast from http://www.newdimensions.org/ – Whenever I get lost in my own mind of self-defeat, a sense of disconnection and fear … I check in with this program – and see what sort of messages I can glean from it. Today I listened to – New Dimensions Media : THE UNCREATED FUTURE DEPENDS ON US with Andrew Cohen.
(At this point, you will have to pay for the podcast. If you aren’t interested in listening to the details of Mr. Cohen’s spiritual journey, you can skip listening to the middle 25 or so minutes and listen to the first 10 and last 15 minutes.) His most powerful insights are about how mankind is the only species that via its evolutionary impulse needs to improve and innovate “everything.” To create new things. But at this point in our world – the human race is “stuck” in a cultural paradigm that is outdated. We need to go beyond the idea of individual existence and excellence and expand into a greater vision of self and life. That history and existence is a linear and evolving process, that is progressive and demands our participation in the world. Again, this touches on the “occupy” movement, in that those who support the “occupy” movement are filling up the void of a culture that has stolen the rich meaning from our lives and depleted the earth’s resources. The challenge is to occupy one’s mind and life with thought and action of alternatives, improvements, innovations … rather than vacantly accept the status quo. *
Many religious traditions demand that humans separate themselves in one way or another from the world – but he disagrees with this focus upon an afterlife, or of withdrawing from worldly things, etc. He insists that men and women of conscience need to engage, and to become part of the greater whole, so that we can all move on with the world toward an ever improving reality – we need to align ourselves with a present time and reality that is synchronized with the world of our children and children’s children and on and on into a sense of timelessness. This is what “sustainable” should mean … that it allows us (the greater us – the earth, humans, all living) to progressively evolve into the everlasting now and future and future’s future.
*(A similar concept to “occupy” is the true but often misinterpreted meaning of “jihad” which means engaged struggle, and is meant to be associated with any sort of struggle one can have that leads to a change – it can involve self-improvement, family relations, pursuit of knowledge and so forth. Unfortunately, the fullness of the word, and its meaning has been corrupted in the public mind. Interesting contrast – the word – “Occupy” has had a negative connotation, politically – one where military might has brutally and oppressively occupied another land. “Occupy” now has a new connotation of peaceful activism and preoccupation of people to change away from political oppression.)