Unprecedented Intensity...


This continues to be a profound time of polarization and uncertainty biosphere-ically, politically, socially, physically, economically, and so forth. I know I keep saying it but as time goes on we are being stretched even further, asked to develop a deeper resilience and to access wisdom to navigate this new yet not unprecedented intensity we find ourselves in. Once again, the collective nervous system is moving to much more activated states of fear, terror, anger, rage, freeze, confusion, wanting to curl in a ball and wait for it all to be over. People seem to be wondering how to go about their lives in the midst of storms, fires, a pandemic waning and surging. . . There are many questions and I’ve noticed another wave of decision fatigue which comes from having to think through things with more intention around ways of being we have taken for granted. There are ongoing losses of many kinds. Individuals and the collective are daily experiencing different circumstances that may be considered traumatizing because they are too much, too fast, and it is difficult to process it all in real time. These are times of stress and upheaval. When we are in this place of stress, we are more tempted to act from this place of stress, from reactivity, from identifications and doubling down on our stances…all ways that aren’t helpful for ourselves or others. The wisdom path is medicine for us in times like this. Rather than our habitual ways of coming to an impasse when an initiating force comes up against a denying force, we can open up and make space for a third force. This week I return to some of Cynthia Bourgeault’s teachings about this. She says, “I would say that, generally, the Wisdom tradition stands on the side of really taking as its first priority forming people in the capacity to hold positions from non-identification so that they can be conscious midwives of Third Force. And at first, it looks like it may be running away from the issue, because when you’re completely identified with your issue, there’s going to be no room for Third Force. It’s all going to happen mechanically. Oppressed group is going to be angry at other oppressed group. Language will get angry. It all plays by that rule. It’s too heavy. If we can turn, if we can just persuade people to hang in there long enough to see that identification is never a good source of motivation—it’s a quick fix, it’s a cheap fix. But what you get as a backlash is worse, in some cases, than what you engender.” She goes on to say, “So if you learn that motivation, that identification, is not ever the real ground of action, and that the real ground of action is your capacity to align with complete transparency with the mercy, as we’ve talked about it, with the field, with the coherent nature of God that we’ve talked about earlier in the week as compassion, as conscience, as coherence. And if you can align with that so that you see it, the eye of the heart opens, and sometimes you see a different way to go that reaches the same goal. Because when you’re aligned with compassion, the only energy you can put out is compassion, when you’re really energetically aligned with it. And whether you win or lose in the cause, that’s an absolute energy. So we’re not telling people to ignore issues; we’re telling people not to lead with them so front and center that you lose your capacity to work in the realm where you can really help in astonishing ways. And to take the time, the space, and the trust to just pattern in the practices will gradually allow you to see this and interiorize it.” As we continue to face all that is in front of us, may we do so from a place where we can really help in astonishing ways. With love, Heather

 

A Couple of Readings: ““...The act of letting go, spiritually understood as a cosmic energy exchange, is the power by which Jesus could live and remain true to his path. It is the power through which he healed, the power through which he forgave, and the power through which he meets us now. Nor is it only his power...That same power is hardwired into our own hearts and souls, and in that moment of complete surrender and explosion of presence goes off within us that is simultaneously an encounter with the wisdom master himself.” — Cynthia Bourgeault “[The author of The Cloud of Unknowing] was writing in an era in many ways uncannily similar to our own. A worldwide pandemic was raging (remember the Bubonic Plague/Black Death?). The first stress cracks were opening up in the heretofore unbroken monolith of the Roman Catholic Church that had held the medieval European world together for nearly a thousand years. The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation were both jostling in the wings. It was a time of disintegration, splintering -- but also of a turbulent, Shiva-like new energy, creating and destroying with equal abandon. The cusp of a dying era, the early birth pangs of the new. In such times contemplatives are not a spiritual luxury; they are an evolutionary necessity. With sobriety and a fierce grit forged in the refiners’ fires of their own spiritual transformation, they literally hold the worlds together and become both the heralds and the midwives of the new arising.” — Cynthia Bourgeault “Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

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