Finding Peace in a Troubled World
This week we looked at how to square our spiritual beliefs with a world filled with chaos, conflict, and inequality, and how to find peace and purpose amid all that.
- How can we understand the existence of suffering in the world, and our role and responsibility in relation to it?
- How do we apply a soul-based and growth-oriented perspective to society and the world at large, and what is the benefit of doing so?
- What is the role of our inner work, spiritual efforts, and/or self-care in relation to the larger world? When are we being “selfish” and when should we be “selfless”?
II. Taking stock: SELF-CARE QUESTIONNAIRE
We each took some time to answer the following in writing. As I said in class: There are NO RIGHT ANSWERS! This is not about “solving,” fixing, or proving anything. Instead, it’s about making space for whatever comes up and noticing your own thoughts and feelings on a subject that we usually don’t give a lot of attention to.
- How are you dealing with the current state of the country and the world? What is your emotional state vis-à-vis “current events”, and how has that emotional state changed or affected you over the past year or so?
- What is your media diet? How do you consume news or avoid it, and what impact have you noticed, positive or negative, of that media consumption?
- What feelings do you have about where we are going as a society or as a country? How do you deal with those feelings?
- Is there any particular issue, crisis, or area you feel particularly affected by or connected to, and in what way?
- Do you feel like there’s been any good news lately? Where are you hopeful?
- What actions, behaviors, habits or choices have helped you feel more calm, positive, or hopeful? These could be self-care, political, social, or anything else.
- What actions, behaviors, habits, or choices have made you feel worse, if any?
- Drawing on your heart and your intuition (not your mind), what do you think is your natural way of “being of service”? When do you feel best, and like you are contributing most?
III. BIG IDEAS: Seeing politics/world events through a spiritual lens
- This is an area of life that causes us a lot of distress. There’s so much to take in when we look at the news and the world around us, and so many emotions. Pain, anger, compassion, outrage, guilt, complicity, helplessness. What is our role? What is our responsibility?
- It can be difficult to know how to care of ourselves amid this onslaught.
- There are many competing voices telling us what we should “do.” The voices of religion, political movements, citizenship, inner voices, the mind, other people. It can be confusing and guilt-inducing.
In the Guides’ words:
To reach out to those who suffer, in compassion, if only in prayer, is a deeply holy act and one that is felt on all levels of existence. It is Light working in favor of Light, in the service of Light. And its ripples are felt far and wide.
To gaze at another person as a brother or sister, as literally no different than you regardless of your apparent differences—that is to change the world.
What you can’t see amid all the crisis, all the fear, all the genuine human suffering, is the mass awakening that is happening across the globe. Not in every corner. Not in every person. Certainly there are dark spaces, some very dark, and that is difficult. There is suffering, some of innocents, and that is beyond difficult to bear.
But what is ultimately true is that this is a time of great en-Lightenment. A great awakening. A crucial time in the history of Earth and one that has been foretold for millennia. So do not despair.
Pray for the victims, for those who suffer. And pray for the despots and the criminals, those who do violence to others. Pray for incompetent leaders and competent ones, for ordinary people, for everyday events and ordinary ones, for those suffer in big ways and those who don’t.
For all are One, and all are part of the great human drama unfolding on the earth. The parts you see and the parts you don’t. Know that nothing is “wrong” even when everything seems so. Know that you are worthy, that all are worthy, regardless of their role in the unfolding drama.
Should you get involved in the strife you see, try to help in some way? Only if your heart implores you to. Not out of guilt or obligation. Not because you feel you “should.” If it is in your path to do so, you will know, and you will be blessed. And if it is not in your path, you will also know, and you will also be blessed.
Here is a summary of the Guides’ teachings about our relationship to world events:
The Guides tell us:
- That the heart is our best guide, in terms of knowing how to respond.
- That we each have a way of serving that may or may not be political. May be creative, spiritual, etc. Your heart will tell you.
- That fear is counterproductive, as is action that does not come from the heart.
- That an obsessive focus on darkness and negativity, as well as “bad actors,” actually increases their power.
- That it is normal and healthy to feel grief when we witness human suffering, but that we shouldn’t collapse into those feelings.
- That inner work, work on the self, is the greatest contribution we can make to the whole. That all outer change springs from inner/ energetic change. Thus, it is not selfish to focus on our own growth, even though society may view it that way.
- That we should view everyone with Love and bless them, even if (and especially if) we disagree with them.
- That we should love and bless our enemies, as Jesus taught, including corrupt leaders, since only Light can shift darkness.
- That prayer really does have an impact, when offered from the heart.
- That suffering has always been with us and is part of the human experience of living in duality. That it is not in itself “wrong.”
- That those souls who choose suffering as a life path deserve our honor, respect, and blessings.
- That there is a larger Reality and much more going on than we realize, and we should remember that when we look at the apparent “real world”.
- That what we actually “see,” when we look at the world, is the manifestation of past thoughts and actions, and that we can collectively create a change by envisioning a future filled with Light.
IV. MEDITATION: Blessing the self and the planet
We ended class with a lovely meditation where we drew Light into ourselves and then spread it around to others and the world. Note: it is important that we fill our own energy fields up first, before we try to share that Light, and also that we not try to do this if we feel vulnerable or depleted.
I offered a favorite poem by Wendell Berry:
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time,
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Next week: Path and Purpose