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That's The Way Of The World

The Sword Of Damocles, and Earth, Wind, & Fire

Blessing or a curse, the choice is ours how we will collectively face the trials of our time here on Earth. Endowed with an incredible aptitude for creating categories and names, we have sorted and segregated all aspects of the human experience. Whether we attribute this to the long slow process of evolutionary biology taking tiny pieces of proteins and turning them into self-aware repositories for collective cellular memory, or some act of a benevolent Divine presence, we are here. This is the world we temporarily inhabit, in all its glory and horror. How we approach it, what we do with this fragment of time and space, is an unwritten fable that our progenitors will inherit.

Healthy/unhealthy, safe/unsafe, awake/asleep; everything we know about life and this experience of humanness is colored by various expressions of separateness. It manifests in a primordial, nonverbal, and precognitive sense of I-ness that becomes more and more dense as we create identifications with that self-reflective sense of separateness. Our experience is like a foam bubble at the crest of a wave, briefly appearing as something other than the ocean, but ultimately inseparable from the life-giving water that sustains all being. Our lived experience of separation creates fixed points of views, identifications, habits, customs, cultures, histories (personal, genetic, and collective), and a whole host of other traps for awareness to become stuck. We have become so lost within the paradigms we have created that we regard some forms of life as superior to others, as though such a hierarchy was for us to decide. We have broken open the Earth to place value on what took billions of years to create, only to rob ourselves of the ground upon which we might build a future. Violence is the unspoken rule to maintain social, racial, geographical, and cultural boundaries. But under all the conflagration, there remains an openness, uncolored by the dross of our concepts of self and other.

An accurate experience of our relationship to nature and all that exists is pre-conceptual, already available to us, and completely free from either/or concepts, i.e. non-dual. Establishing a working and practical embodiment of awareness of non-duality means recognizing the inherent uncertainty of life; everything that exists arises out of a mystery unknowable by intellect or imagination. Our minds, for better or worse, operate beautifully when we can create differences. Out of separateness, we find ourselves creating meaning, value, certainty, and a relative sense of truth based in evidence that conforms to our concepts. We are absolutely brilliant, as a species, at using this faculty of the mind. This is why we can appreciate aesthetic beauty, the richness of art and music, the delicacy of cuisine, the delight of physical movement in space, and the range of emotions, perspectives, and stories. The same mental faculty is how we invent, investigate, and theorize. What a tremendous gift we have! However, using such a gift to observe our relationship to life, to its varied expressions, is like using a microscope to watch a sunset. With a broadness of awareness, we are able to recognize that, here in this tiny speck of a planet amidst the unfathomable cosmos, life all clings to and feeds off of itself. The conditions that make life wonderful equally apply to all forms of life, big and small, because we all share this one planet. What harms any one of us, harms us all, knowingly or unknowingly. The air, water, and sunlight nourishes us all equally and belongs to no one. If we cling to the smallness of separateness, we wall ourselves away from the boundless possibilities of who and what we could be. When we recognize that our joy and grief all arises out of the same unyielding mystery we cannot claim it as "mine" or "yours," but know it to be temporarily visiting and passing through us.

At present, knowing ourselves to be vulnerable to disease, hunger, and fear, this time of heightened understanding is precious. If we are paying attention, we see how our individual decisions can ripple out into our communities and beyond. We can see how fragile our lives and livelihoods are without the presence of each other. We can see how our lack of equity causes us all harm, because each life senselessly lost or taken robs us all of joy, whether we can acknowledge it or not. The structures that systematically oppress and marginalize groups of people robs us of untold brilliance and potential. We have the chance to see how each of us shedding the weight of unconscious psychic baggage can lighten the world. Holding in our hearts the openness of mystery, we are free from the dogma of "normalcy," "precedence," or "business as usual." When a culture of curiosity, collaboration, and consent arises from the wisdom within us the status quo is no longer the sword of Damocles putting us all in grave peril. If we hope to see a world less cruel, the process starts at home with ourselves first. Inviting openness to our own separateness, to the stories, habits, and identifications that keep us bound up in struggle is what allows us to be open with anyone else; this is the essence of compassion in action. All those saintly virtues we hear about arise from anyone bold or brave enough to live with such compassion. Like the message in Earth, Wind, and Fire's track, "That's The Way Of The World," peace of mind and the antidote to the harshness of the world is in keeping our hearts warm with the desire for love.


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