2012 – The Possible Direction

 

It would be very easy to say that based upon the nature of man as he has shown himself throughout history, the only destination is self-destruction.We are in an escalated time of war, hatred, greed, and all of the things that spell disaster.

I see things symbolically.When I was working for the man who would later become my partner, for a business in New York, I remember walking down the halls feeling as though the file cabinets on either side of the hallway were falling in on me.I felt the same urgency as Chicken Little in the story saying “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”.It was this sense of urgency that caused me to push my boss into opening our own business, and we did.Not a month later, the company that we worked for went bankrupt.

During George W’s second term as president my friends would complain that he was going to get away with everything, it seemed that everything was working out for him.Yet, my vision this time, was of a dam with a hole, and like the story of the little Dutch Boy, he had his finger in the hole.However, in my vision the holes kept coming – more and more until the entire dam collapsed.This was, to me, what began with Bush and would continue with whoever became president after him.The impression that I was left with was that there was no system, not corporate, not governmental, not environmental, not social and not religions that would be sustainable for much longer.What we needed was not just change, but transformation from the ground up.The dam could not be salvaged or patched, it had to be demolished and rebuilt.

I used to paint furniture.As an artist, I would use furniture as my canvas.One day I found this perfect desk.What I should have done was sand it down to the bare wood, then prime it and begin painting.But that was too overwhelming a task, so I just primed it.The paint was not holding, so I would pile on another base coat.I kept putting paint on top of paint and although it looked beautiful when I was done, I could not sell it – or even use it because I had added too much good paint to the bad.Some things need additional coats, and others need to be stripped down to the bone and built up from scratch.This is where we are.

Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. “Regardless of a new administration in the White House, the solutions to our economic problems are being sought at the same level of consciousness that created them, which has been – take care of the corporations and they will take care of the people.Make sure that the banks have money and they will spread it down to the people.I guess it is just a continuation of trickledown economics.What would constitute change – real change?It would be working from the bottom up.You see, even if the banks are willing to give people credit cards again – the people are not going to be so willing to take them.We are becoming debt phobic.

Between the years of 1988 and 2006 the average wage in this country rose a total of about one percent.During that same time period the average cost of living rose over ten percent.How was that gap supposed to be filled?I know, credit!Credit that we could not pay because of the gap, if we could not afford, on the average wage to life, how could we afford to pay a credit card with growing interest rates?Why did no one look at these figures and anticipate a problem?The answer is greed.And it is that greed that prevents the kinds of change that we need now to guarantee the future.

The government should not loan money to investors to buy the bad debt from banks, the government would take the bad debt itself, declare a moratorium of up to two years on foreclosures and renegotiate the loans so that the people could catch up.The government would focus all of its attention to creating jobs and keeping people in their homes.Nothing would stimulate the economy more than for people to have disposable income, not more credit.Nothing would improve consumer confidence more than to feel safe within their homes and with their healthcare.We are giving the thieves who stole the cookies from the cookie jar, money to replace the cookies.There is no change here, just a new twist to an old knot.With the number of homeless and unemployed expected to continue to rise, I wonder who the economy is picking up for.But it doesn’t matter.

There is something else happening that is an deeply difficult issue to tackle and therefore an issue that is not addressed.People have paid money into social security and into their pensions in the belief that these were up there with death and taxes in terms of things that we could count on.Today people are reaching retirement age with nothing, social security that is not enough to live on, Medicare that is not enough to keep one healthy, and a pension that has been stolen by the same corporation that promised it.

We have no trust, we have no reason to trust.A terrorist attack is only one of many threats to our lives that we live with, losing our homes, our ability to feed our families, our ability to provide the education that will safeguard our children’s future, and the healthcare to keep them alive should they become ill.Keeping the homeland secure should be much more far reaching.

The only thing that the people are able to count on is that they have the power, the right and even the duty to change the system.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-

We are a skyscraper that is on fire on the first two floors, the occupants of those floors are dying, but the people in the penthouses are feeling safe and secure.But soon the fire will eat its way up to the top, and although some people on the lower floors are close enough to jump to safety – that can’t be said for the high income floors.But we won’t address the basement until those in the penthouse are affected, which of course will be too late.

Add to this we have a growing climate emergency, which the huge coal and oil industries do not see that it can be addressed adequately for at least a few decades.The scientists tell us that we don’t have one decade if we don’t start transforming our way of life today. North Korea is desperate to attack someone and prove itselfas a major military power.Israel is desperate to bomb Iran.And all of the fundamentalists of all religions are excitedly awaiting Armageddon.

If this were a novel, no one would be anticipating an happy ending.But there could still be one, a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a new generation of Senators and Congressmen.President Obama was not just elected by those who were of voting age.He was elected because of the hard work of many young people who were not yet old enough to vote but will be not only old enough to vote, but interested enough to run for office in the year 2012.Those who will be voting in that election will have a different agenda and enormous power over communications through the internet.

The generation of the sixties had great promise and hope of a world in which there was peace, brotherhood, and an end to war.Sadly, their hopes were dashed and their faith was shattered when their candidate for President lost the election.They became cynical believing that they were up against a system that they could not, with all of their work and enthusiasm – defeat.Some just withdrew, some decided that if you can’t beat them, join them.This is not the case today.The young people of today did win, and they did change the face of the country.They are empowered.

Seeds are being planted now in every area of life.The technology exists to end consumption of fossil fuels.These young people are growing up in a time where greed is not good.They have a voice and they will use it loudly.

Things change, the world changes, and it is very hard, even in our own personal lives to know the exact date that it happens because we are not aware of the change until we are well within it.From there we look back and say, “yes, it was around that time that….”

Monopolies were one banned because they inhibited free competition.We decided free competition was not really necessary.The next generation of law makers will rid the world of monopolies, not because of their impeding competition, although that will always be a part of it, but because by their sheer size they threaten the global economy, as is being proven today.They will create the kinds of far reaching changes that will pave a new path for the world, a path to sustenance.It will be a world where everyone having some, is more acceptable than some having everything.I see the new government supporting education, healthcare for all and self sustaining communities.Where fossil fuels with be the alternative and fuel created by the Sun, the Water and the Wind will be the norm.The new leaders around the world will come to see that if everyone has the same size guns, they become a useless weapon.Then a handshake and a helping hand will be the weapons that end hostility, instead of life.After the darkness of path that we have set before us, I see a new path, and I see the first steps on that path coming in 2012.

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It’s Cool To Be Kind

Enlightened beings are magnanimous givers, bestowing whatever they have with equanimity, without regret, without hoping for reward, without seeking honor, without coveting material benefits, but only to rescue and safeguard all living beings.
Buddhism. Garland Sutra 21
There are so many phrases that characterize these times such as, “Only the strong survive,” and, “People mistake kindness for stupidity”. “It is a dog eat dog world”. It seems that there has been a consistently growing trend against being nice. Today if one is too nice, they either need to join some religious order or seek a therapist’s couch.

When I was young, I was deeply affected by the emotional pain experienced by the people around me. I was especially sensitive to the fact that it was not inescapable pain but really self-inflicted. The greatest pain seemed to be caused by those we care for and sometimes even by those who care for us. My reaction to the pain of those around me and to my own, was to determine to live my life in a way which would focus on helping those in pain, and trying not to be the cause of pain for others. I was naive enough to want to see people happy. I grew up in an environment so devoid of trust and faith that I was going to carry enough for everyone. To me, it was so important to trust and to be trusted. Although I was often hurt or disappointed, it did not stop me from being true to the person that I believed I should be.

One day, in my early twenties, I was with a group of co-workers, speaking openly and honestly, when a friend pulled me aside and told me that everyone was not laughing with me they were laughing at me. She told me that I was kind and trusting, and people just saw it as stupid. She said that I had to change to protect myself.

A few years later, I had a friend who started calling me a weak ass. It bothered me but I wasn’t comfortable confronting her about it at first. I knew she thought I was too nice especially to people she didn’t feel deserved it. One day, I asked her why she called me that and she told me that if everyone in the world was like me—it would be a beautiful place, but since everyone was not, I was a weak ass. I respected her honesty and I also knew that in her way, it was a compliment. In the end, my being what she called, a weak ass was the reason she had chosen me as one of the few people that she really trusted.

During my early twenties, I did a great deal of soul searching. The truth was, that people were very difficult for me to deal with. I didn’t find it easy to make friends, because most people saw me as someone to take advantage of. Each group was somehow formed around its sense of superiority to other groups. I didn’t feel superior to anyone, and that affected my ability to fit in. At some point, probably during one of those painful times, I thought of the ways in which I could change and so avoid the endless hurts and disappointments that seemed to be a permanent part of my life. I realized that I could put up a cold wall, I could expect the worst from others, and take before I was taken. I could choose my friends based on how much they had to offer me, or how good it made me look to be with them. I could do those things that I had for so long been advised to do—or I could accept that who I was, was who I had always wanted to be. Because I realized that I was the person I would have wanted as a friend, and that, was the highest goal that I ever wanted to achieve within myself. I would rather have been who I was—alone—than to have allowed the experiences of my life to control me and to determine who I was as a person.

This is what is called dharma. It is living the life that is truly natural to your soul. It is really being your true self and living in accordance with that true self. There is a story of a Bodhisattva who was sitting by the water’s edge. A priest who was approaching him heard him saying “ouch” repeatedly. As he drew nearer, he noticed there was a scorpion that was drowning. As he watched the scorpion and the Bodhisattva he was astonished to see that each time the scorpion began to drown, the Bodhisattva reached into the water and pulled it out. And each time after each time it was being pulled out of the water the scorpion would sting the Bodhisattva’s hand. Afters it was pulled out the scorpion would return to the water and the scenario would be repeated.

The priest looked at the Bodhisattva in frustration and asked, “Master, you know that the scorpion is going to sting you, why do you repeatedly lift it out of the water?” The Bodhisattva responded, “It is the dharma of the scorpion to sting—and it is my dharma to save.” In this lifetime “to save” is not everyone’s dharma. There are even those humans whose dharma is to “sting”. Yet many, whose dharma it is to save, to help, and to love his fellow man—hold back out of fear of rejection or ridicule. So instead, they do what others do and, in acting against their dharma, they sadly create unnecessary karma.

It is my belief, and this is very personal, that it is the innate desire of each person to be loved unconditionally and to be allowed—regardless of past actions—to be the best one can be. I once read somewhere that loving is giving what you most need to receive. And this is why I say that this is personal, because it is what I would want to be given to me. So I chose to give others an opportunity to be trusted, even if they had not shown themselves to be trustworthy in the past, and to create a non-judgmental space for people to feel safe enough to change if they chose to do so. Perhaps, eight out of ten times this proved disastrous for me, but it wasn’t a personal loss because, having given something consciously, it was not taken from me. When I claimed my power, I claimed my right to give, to love, and to succeed in what I measured as success which was to be the best human being that I could. I no longer perceived myself as being a victim because I made the choice. I no longer perceived myself as being used or taken advantage of because I made a choice. Regardless of the perceptions of others, within myself I was becoming successful and that feeling was empowering.

Someone said that there are no bad people—only bad choices. I believe that because society is so fearful and so judgmental that some of us become forced into living out the persona of those bad choices in spite of an inner desire to rise above them. This is what happens to us during the Christmas season. It is a frozen moment in time when we may safely, without fear of loss or judgment, bring out what is best within us. We may experience the joy of giving and of sharing without feeling foolish, without fearing that we will be used or taken advantage of. The fears of our society have made those for whom giving and loving are the source of joy feel weak and defective. We have equated kindness not only with stupidity but with what this society considers to be the most detestable fault that one can have—that of weakness. My own father went to his grave fearing for my survival because of those exact traits that most endeared me to him.

For too long, people who do really care about the welfare of others have been made to feel ashamed of that feeling. They are either labeled, “Bleeding Heart Liberals”, or made to believe that they suffer from some form of inferiority complex. And to a large extent they do suffer from a complex. This is because there has been no place in the everyday world for good people. Even hearing the word in my head as I write makes me almost feel as those I am describing a leper. Good people have to find their own path and fight the world, their loved ones, and even themselves so as to stay on it. It has been very difficult after goodness lost favor with the general public in response to the sixties. So, unless one fits into the category of being an aged hippy, or a left over love child—good people have little or no support for their beliefs about life and the way to live it. I found that it is easy to feel confident when you believe in who you are. It was the believing that took some time, but it always does when you are swimming against the tide. The thing to remember is that it only takes one person to make a path—anywhere—and everyone else will eventually follow. It takes belief to develop confidence, and a willingness to walk alone to make that path, but once the path is made, you are not alone for long.

Now, it is time for all of the bleeding hearts to be proud that their hearts are not too cold, or too hard to bleed. It is time that we acknowledge that it is neither bad nor stupid to be good. It is spiritual. And one does not have to join an order to be spiritual and to live a life that exemplifies the spiritual principals taught by every Light that God has sent down to earth to lead us. For too long, we have bought into that dog eat dog world. We are not animals we are spiritual beings. We are meant to rise above survival of the fittest and that dog eat dog belief. We are meant to love, to care, and to be our brother’s keeper. We don’t have to wait until it becomes cool or in, to be good we have to be good long enough, and with enough courage and conviction that it becomes cool. There are no catchy phrases which praise being a good person. There are only phrases denigrating it. If someone is too good—then they are not true, or they are a stupid, a wimp, an easy mark, or a sucker. It actually amazes me that one can’t be too thin, or can’t be too rich, but one can be too good! We have gone so far down the wrong path that when someone does something right or is too decent, or humane, either their motives or their intelligence are immediately suspect.

It is time to lift ourselves out of the jungle where only the strong survive. It is time to leave the kingdom where dogs eat dogs and enter the kingdom where mankind can love and care for all living things. It is time for us to rise to the position that is befitting those who were created in the image of God, that image of the loving, caring, and forgiving caretaker that God is. How can we speak in His name, when we ourselves celebrate the animal in us and demean the God in us? God is goodness. If enough people find the courage to be proud of caring, proud of giving, and proud of trusting, then others will find it wise and cool to do the same. The world is in sore need of all the loving, giving, caring people it can support. And that does not mean confined in a religious order, but out in the world living an example that others can be encouraged to follow. There is an infinite distance between nowhere and the first step, but once that first step is taken, we find that the universe takes our hand the rest of the way.

Peace Comes From The Balance Of Mind And Soul

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We have been given the gift and the curse of the use and enjoyment of our minds and our hearts. From the moment that we rose above the other animals to become co-creators of our universe, we were given the heart to love, and appreciate the world. We were given the mind to classify, and the ability to blend the two for the creation of solutions to our problems, ensure our survival, and to develop the wisdom that comes from the balance of the two.
How far have we come in the evolution of these gifts? Not as far as we believe we have. The mind has been developed to the point that without the heart it cannot go any further. Scientifically, we have traveled to the point where we are now dealing with a quantum reality that requires creativity, imagination, and even a bit of faith to explore.

Still, the heart is well behind in its development. To kill in cold blood, or really, to kill at all, requires functioning without the heart. Hate is a cold product of the mind. Yes, it does become impassioned, but passion is not a quality of the heart. Passion is a remnant of our primitive ancestry — the energy that drives animals to pursue food, pursue a mate, and scare intruders from its territory. It is an energy, which is directed by a healthy ego or it directs an unhealthy one. The ego, which separates us from the other creatures on our planet, coordinates the use of mind and/or heart. The ego is the decision maker; it is the mediator. It is the health of the ego that determines which we use.

The heart and mind are in balance in a healthy ego. Working together they choose when, how much, where, and if the fuel of passion should be utilized. The decisions, guided by creativity and wisdom, are born out of the combination of heart, and mind. Hate is an instinct based by-product of an unbalanced ego. It is instinctual fear harnessed by the mind without consideration of the heart. Hate is the absence of love. Love is the only ingredient that the heart has to contribute. Even a balanced ego may become unbalanced for a moment when it considers the stresses of life on earth and the different ingredients it has to balance.

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Anger, however intensely it is experienced at the moment, is soon extinguished by the warmth of the heart. It doesn’t turn to hate. Not if the ego is balanced and the heart is strong. Where hate has a place, the heart energy is not developed, either because there is too much reasoning mind, too much primitive instinct, too much fear, or too much of them all. Whatever it is, there is no room for the heart to grow.

Mankind was given, or we took — when we bit the apple — this enormous Pandora’s box of mind, heart, passion, and fear. How we mix them would determine whether we survived outside of the garden or not. And so we struggle with this mixture of cold reasoning mind, hunger for more, and divine love. And it is my belief that as part of the Divine Plan, the souls that incarnated at a particular time, are balanced in a way that will bring all souls, the lessons they have evolved to learn. There are no new lessons, the lessons we face today are the lessons that have been faced by mythic and historical figures, and mythic and historic lands, only the setting is changed.

Ultimately it all comes down to this, can we face the enemy without becoming the enemy? Or can we, as a species, be the hero who faces the enemy and allows the enemy to become one with us? Acknowledge, after thousands of years, that the battle waged out in our world must be won within our own egos, so that, as a species, our progress can be seen in the world around us. As long as we seek the enemy outside of our own beings, we will diminish our chance of winning with each outside enemy that we kill.

We fight the same war, century, after century, without finding peace, until it is found within our own hearts. There is no good or evil; there are no boundaries, no pure white hats, or pure black hats. There are only human beings torn within their egos between spiritual or material. It is a battle that the unbalanced ego does not want to face, because that battle requires letting go of those big shiny idols which the little mind finds such pleasure. It means embracing the small eternal flame, which the heart longs for. And so, we enter the battlefield like Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, with God as our charioteer, patiently telling us that these bodies are not real, only symbols used by the soul for the true battle within. And this war, whether it is fought on the battlefield, in the playground or in the living room, is a battle of duality, one that continues for as long as we cling to our belief that first the other is bad, and second, that there is any other at all.

We battle those we label evil because we believe they seek to destroy us. They fight us for the same reason. No one marches into battle with a picture of Satan on their flag. We all go off to fight evil, to fight the devil we imagine we are facing. As we all wear both labels at the same time, saying to the enemy, “I am evil”, to myself, “I am good.” We fight to protect our lives because we do not really believe in the eternal soul. We fight to revenge the deaths of those we love, because as Krishna told Arjuna when he was questioning the battle that he was about to fight,

“One man believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to be slain?

As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.”
( Bhagavad-Gita 2.19-25)

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When we are able to see that the entire world is a symbolic battlefield for the individual soul and the larger groups of souls to play out their eternal battles, we will be able to deal with that apple, understand that the dark and the light are two sides of one coin that each exists because of the other. One cannot exist without the other because both exist within each of us. Only when we have a balanced mind and heart, can we be released from war and suffering.

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