Awake? Now what?

Posted by A.C. Ping
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“At the end of all our journeying we shall return to the place from which we started and know it for the first time.”
(T.S. Elliot – on the paradox of enlightenment)

Having survived the turmoil of the last three years which began with the 2012 challenge, you may now be reading this with a new sense of enlightenment. However, just like a martial arts student doesn’t really know how to walk until they achieve a black belt level, you may also now be asking what should you do with this new sense of awareness.

As your focus shifts from “Me and mine” to “Us and ours” a quick look around the horizon reveals four significant challenges to our shared journey of ascension. One – the risk that we destroy the very environment that supports us through man made climate change. Two – the rapidly widening gap between the rich and the poor. Three – the increased levels of violence and global terrorism. Four – the security responses to this that are taking away our freedoms and civil rights leaving us watched by ‘big brother’ at every turn.

At the root of these four issues is fear in its many different forms and at the heart of the solution to all of these challenges is love. Cliché, I know, but hear me out – fear drives the justifications that rationalise away our guilt and allow us to do little about these issues without having to reassess ourselves as ‘bad’. So it is here at this junction point of creation that we must pause and use our new found powers of mindfulness to deconstruct our thinking and view the problems afresh.

Fundamentally, we are faced with systems problems. Our economic system is carbon based hence we keep digging up coal and oil, burning it and pumping it into the atmosphere. Similarly, our financial system is utilitarian based hence we keep rewarding outcomes based on money not principles. Fear then feeds separation, judgement, scarcity, us and them type thinking and the ultimate manifestation is violence and the violation of the sanctity of life itself.

Awareness of the temporal nature of existence and the critical relationship between being and time reveals disconnects between what we aspire to create, what we actually create and how we justify why we did what we did – or didn’t do. A lot to take in I know so let’s break it down and delve into the weird and wonderful world of social constructivism. Social constructivism says that there is no objective reality but rather reality is created by the actors themselves through the stories they tell.

So, we might aspire to create a world of peace and harmony but when confronted with the current challenges it is all too easy to see them as all too hard and beyond the influence of someone as insignificant as us. A cold hard objective look would be far too depressing and the self-analysis and judgement too severe and harsh. Enter some justifications to get ourselves off the hook:- It’s not my responsibility – I’m insignificant and have no power so there’s nothing I can do about it; It’s not hurting anyone – out of sight, out of mind; They deserved it; If you think I’m bad you should see them; I did it for you, for family, for God; Everyone else is doing it so I had no choice but to follow suit; and finally, I deserve it – I’ve worked hard and paid my price.

It’s these types of justifications that you need to be mindful of as you learn to walk with your new black belt. If you’re aware it’s a systems problem then there are things you can actually do. The carbon based economy is on the way out – there’s a reason major mining companies are divesting their coal assets. Your power lies in how you interact with the financial system – how you earn, spend and invest your money. The key here is existential alignment – that is to be able to align what you aspire to create with your actions in the present moment and the story that you tell to be able to justify what you actually did. Easy eh?

Problem is there’s theory and then there’s reality – for example, you aspire to be environmentally friendly and contribute to creating a world where your children get to enjoy what you have enjoyed. You want them to have a good life so you’ve built a house and have a healthy sized mortgage, but then the company you work for makes you redundant and the best option is working in the mines on a fly in, fly out basis. It’s easy to justify this despite the conflict because you’re doing it for your kids and if you don’t do it someone else will. But you’re not aligned, there’s an internal conflict so here’s where love comes in and a healthy dose of faith.

There are two distinct paths one can go down here – buy into the fear, keep doing what you’re doing and justify away your guilt; or be mindful of the conflict, refuse the job on the basis of principle, step into the realm of faith and make a conscious choice to love yourself regardless of the consequences…

Nobody said it was easy…

Faith is a belief in something for which there is no evidence. Awareness, awakens you to possibility but not certainty. Now you’re awake take the time to consider what you will and will not put energy into, become aware of the flawed justifications that will inhibit your ability to actually do this. Work on aligning yourself existentially, but most of all make a conscious choice to love yourself unconditionally and have faith in the shared ascension of us all.

In peace and love always :)

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