Saturday, October 11, 2008
Fear, and alternatives
It seems reasonably certain that ZYG readership all over the globe is watching the world financial crisis with both bewilderment and bemusement.
All of us in the work form a community; every one of you who reads this is a part of my community, as I am a part of yours. Collectively, we weave a web of work together over the surface of the planet, hopefully providing the Earth and the solar system with certain kinds of energy it needs.
So even though I don't know you personally, we are connected, through our sharing of these ideas and this work. This is a big idea. It is very much the same as the understanding that Christ offered us about the question of community. When we gather together, the synergy of our effort creates a kind of food for the level above us, and draws forces that can help towards us.
Every one of us shares in that effort; it is collective, and it serves the Lord.
It's a particularly important time for all of us to stay grounded in this collective work, I believe. The last thing we should do is succumb to the fear--financial and otherwise--that is sweeping the world. Even though it probably looks to most of us like much of our life savings (or at least our retirement investments) is evaporating like so much morning mist on the surface of a lake, as Mr. Gurdjieff said, "we always make a profit."
That is because the investment that we make in our lives is first and foremost an investment in Being. This pays a different kind of dividend. Right now--almost certainly because of planetary influences no one on earth clearly understands--a moment of great demand has been imposed. A great deal of anguish is being experienced, and emotions are being driven to a fever pitch. (Witness the angry, and even openly violent, remarks being made against Barack Obama at John McCain's political rallies, for example.)
We ought to be grateful, perhaps, that this time around it is expressing itself in a war in the money markets, instead of a war where human beings are slaughtered.
It may, of course, yet lead to that, but let's hope it doesn't.
My own children have come to me with a lot of concern and fear about the situation. They see that they now face an uncertain future (not that we don't, always) , and they wonder if they are going to be able to go to college, graduate school, get a job, etc. "We're screwed," as my 17 year old son Adriaan puts it.
All of them are afraid -- they sense that something unusual is happening.
For reasons I cannot explain in any simple set of words, I don't feel any alarm about the situation. I still get up every morning and I see the sunlight on leaves, and it is beautiful and it feeds me. I still breathe the cool morning air of October. I see the squirrels, the birds, the late autumn flowers.
None of them are very worried. Why should I be worried?
Daily, I try to reassure my children. Things may appear to be falling apart, but that simply isn't the case. What we are seeing is global emotional reaction. It's only if it escalates past the point of theatrics that we will begin to have serious problems. This doesn't mean things won't be difficult -- no doubt, they will be -- but collectively, society has the resources to work its way through this problem. In fact, I feel a peculiar sense of optimism, as though we were on the verge of some great opportunity.
Only time will tell if that is true. In the meantime, as I watch our savings evaporate,I refuse to be afraid.
I can make that choice, and I do.
So let's move on to something more interesting, why don't we?
I want to relate an experience I had yesterday while walking the dog on the top of the Palisades, those magnificent basalt cliffs that define the west side of the Hudson River. We are fortunate enough to live walking distance from the Palisades, so I go up there frequently. The ridge is heavily wooded and littered with the rocky remains of the last Ice Age: a sobering reminder of transformation.
During the walk, while the famous dog Isabel was checking nature's chemical notebooks, I closed my eyes and put my hand against the bark of a tree -- a huge oak tree, probably well over a hundred years old. I tried to sense and understand with nothing more than the sense of touch, appreciating the fact that this was, indeed, a different mind than my intellectual mind perceiving the texture of this bark.
Then I did it again, with a different tree.
We take touch for granted. What is touch? The blind men touched the elephant in order to know it, to understand it. But what were they knowing and understanding when they touched? How were they understanding? By the time they spoke of their understanding, it was deficient and even useless, but while they were touching the elephant, they understood the elephant in a different way than what their words could convey.
There is an entire language encapsulated within the sense of touch, but the language has no words. If we put ourselves up against this in a direct experience where we use our attention to see how it is, we may brush ourselves up against a more concrete example of how there is more than one mind in the body of man. And we certainly brush up against examples of how words are not needed to convey understanding -- examples, that is, of how words cannot convey certain understandings, even simple ones, which are right there in front of us when we touch a tree.
Try it yourself and see.
May your roots find water, and you leaves know sun.