America is rocked, shaken to the core. Our world – or our idea of our world – is broken. Broken for people who are fighting for their survival and exhibiting those base instincts that are generated from that place – fear, anger, hate. Broken for people who were complacent, even smug, that a continual, upward progressive spiral in society’s values was a given. The only given is that there is suffering, and relief from suffering can be sought in cultivating consciousness, compassion, and our spiritual essence.
The bigger picture is this; in-breath, out-breath, expansion followed by contraction. This is the basic pulse of the universe and applies to all things. The Dark Ages was followed by the Renaissance. A period of growth on Earth is followed by an Ice Age (yes, between climate change and the nuclear option this could be a very big outbreath.) Life and death! It’s all part of the picture. As Byron Katie says, when you argue with reality you lose 100% of the time. So accepting what is (indeed, loving what is) and also taking responsibility for creating what happens next, is the path to enlightened living.
Finding solace in the bigger picture is realizing the true nature of things – impermanent, imperfect, and ultimately not about us. The Dalai Lama said we Americans get too excited about both the good and the bad; that developing a steady internal calmness is most helpful. This is coming from a man who saw the Chinese invasion of Tibet that killed thousands of monks, destroyed monasteries and ancient spiritual texts and led him to flee on foot across a mountain range. He speaks from true moral authority, and experience of the dualistic nature of our relative existence.
As I prepare for Thanksgiving I am grateful but take nothing for granted. What I believed were core values shared by our society – respect, kindness, equality – are truths that are no longer self-evident. As I go through my days much is the same but everything has changed. I am broken, too. My heart broke wide open and I am feeling everything very deeply. The visceral, overpowering feeling of anxiety has settled into a place of more awareness, more vulnerability, and more determination to live my values fully in every moment.
The spiritual realm is manifest in the physical. I am informed by the transcendental perspective and I am also engaged in action – as much to soothe my own soul as to participate in creating what comes next. We must continue to act on our principles while accepting that we have no control over what is. That is true peace, and if we can carry that peace within it will become more manifest in the phenomenal world.