Rage,Terror and Grief in America

The beautiful central mandala is surrounded by kinetic geometric figures who protect it from defilement or corruption. The large “X” shaped rays leading to the center is another symbol of protection. Just as protectors arise to keep the earth from desecration, so too we have invisible protectors for our soul. No matter what happens to us from the outside, our core can never be damaged.

The beautiful central mandala is surrounded by kinetic geometric figures who protect it from defilement or corruption. The large “X” shaped rays leading to the center is another symbol of protection. Just as protectors arise to keep the earth from desecration, so too we have invisible protectors for our soul. No matter what happens to us from the outside, our core can never be damaged.

Rage, Terror And Grief in America

As I read the news reports filled with rage, terror and grief, of corruption and violence, I am tempted to fall into a kind of hopelessness.

When I see how many people are hurt, crying out in pain, who are invalidated, mocked and attacked for asking for a right to be heard, a right to thrive, I want to despair. I witness our institutions in a state of collapse, how the way our economic system is at war with our own constitution, how cruelty, torture, war, and the crushing of dreams has become accepted and synonymous with leadership and American exceptionalism. It is easy to want to give up. Looking how rigged the election process truly is, how our major candidates lust for the Ring of Power, I want to recoil in disgust and shame. I’d prefer to go numb, zone out, give into the impulse that says there is nothing I can do that will make a difference. During those times my little self looks for someone to pin the blame on, some evil force out there. But soon it finds a closer target, some evidence that maybe it’s me, that I’ve failed, turned the wrong corner, been lazy or irresponsible, that I’ve offended God. Truthfully, I want to cry with pent up feelings and frustration. But really, maybe we are all enduring a hell of a lot of grief, terror and rage right now. It’s pretty intense to just remain present on earth right now during such an enormous transition and retelling of the Great Story. Many of us have endured a lot of loss and while some parts of life get better, other parts seem to get worse. Bottom line; things aren’t going to be the same. I’m not so innocent now and I suspect most of us aren’t. Loss of innocence does have its cost and I often find I find I must consciously breathe, to a count, just to keep the panic at bay. During these times when it can be hard to sleep, hard to get up, hard to keep going, I journey down to the garden and sing praises to the zucchini, talk lovingly to the tomatoes, and marvel at the beauty of the beans. In the old model, I thought I was supposed to be a great hero, a brave activist, a back-to-the-land pioneer, an eco building contractor, a brilliant psychotherapist. None of that was the “me” I came to be. Instead, I spent most of my life learning firsthand about the experience and the effects of trauma. I was the subject, the object and the experiment. This year I turned 70 and faced renewed health challenges. I also found that selling art in the marketplace was more challenging than before. I had to work at telling myself that everything that has showed up at the doorstep, even Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, has helped me to evolve and grow. FRUSTRATION AT GOD Sometimes I’ve been so frustrated that I have wanted to smash my art, like Moses smashing the 10 commandments. I get scared and insecure because things don’t always happen the way I want them to. All my old conditioning and imprinting surfaces with those little nasty voices that basically tell me to quit being an artist and get a real job. Fortunately, talking to myself like a prison guard doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes I have to go out into the mountains, set up a chair by the creek and yell and scream at God for being such an asshole, for being so intractable, so far away, and so difficult to please. I hate it that I don’t get rewarded for trying to “do good.” I hate feeling like God is against me because I can’t get what I think I need. So I have to sort of vomit up all this stuff and vibrate it away from me with sound or breath or visualization. In the end, isn’t this confrontation with the God I image still me? Isn’t the consciousness that is screaming the same one that is being screamed at? Almost always, I wind up having to release old judgments and repressed feelings that well up like geyser. How often is it me I’m disappointed in, projecting and blaming God instead? How many times do I find myself still carrying the old ancestral load of shame and guilt? SHOWING UP Nowadays it’s a chore just to show up. But I keep telling myself that if I can keep going, even if it's a crawl, I can stay awake with respect. To me right now, that is everything. I think that it takes a lot of courage to stand steady while all around there is chaos brewing. I don’t mean the kind of courage that urges one to pick up a gun; it’s the kind of courage that keeps one’s faith in love, connection, forgiveness and compassion. For me, that translates into being authentic and honest about what I feel. Not so easy to do. When I meditate or do journey work, I get very strongly that no matter what I lose, what I don’t get that I think I absolutely need, no matter what I have or don’t have in terms of recognition, money, a home, or anything material at all, I am still loved and I am still love. I still have dignity. Although sometimes I am flooded by waves of feeling alone, that I’m no longer on God’s radar, still, there is that love in me that is with me always. Like a mandala, it is the center point from which I can re-flower myself. PROJECTING OUR STUFF I write this because I am conscious of the fact that whatever I deny, whatever I reject in my consciousness, comes back to me in a form of a fate I cannot control. This seems to me to be a spiritual law of creation, no less potent than the law of gravity. I have this odd feeling that whatever rage, terror, grief and shame I suppress will find its way into the empowerment of demagogues and false prophets who are only too willing to project it out on designated enemies in the form of violence and revenge. That’s the power of the Shadow, the power of projection.  Deep down I am convinced it’s not global warming that is the real problem, it’s loving ourselves, which would take care of just about everything. WHAT TO DO So while I have no global answers, no heroic stances, and no wondrously insightful solutions to our problems, I do have a response to myself. Go plant a tree, help a friend dry apples, lend a drill, share my true feelings. Dispel the darkness by lighting my own light. Hold myself with love and tenderness. Reach out when possible. I can’t put the bankers in jail or fix the rigged voting system. I can’t stop fascism in America. But I can write this post, get out in the garden, make a rock mandala, take a walk, display my greeting cards at the local art store, and forgive myself for judging myself for not having enough, doing enough and being enough. I can also thank the divine intelligence for gifting me with consciousness and this earth, for loving me, caring for me, and helping me through every step of the way. And maybe for today, that will be enough.  

The Great Awakening

BeaconThere are those among us now, many I think, who increasingly feel the urgency and the power of a “call,” a beckoning to become something more than we are. There is a sense of something invisible and awesome pulling us in its tractor beam, accompanied by a feeling that we must attend to something essential and if we do not, we may sicken or even die. This feeling may have a variety of antecedents. Perhaps there was a period of physical, emotional or spiritual pain, loss, panic and anxiety, or sudden states of ecstasy. Perhaps we once felt in control but now we are not. Maybe we sense the presence of angels, spiritual beings, or ancestors trying to get our attention. Maybe we have spontaneously entered a dark night of the soul and experience ourselves in a state of disintegration, enduring a long ordeal in whose grip we cannot imagine emerging from whole again. Maybe it’s the experience of finding ourselves in a world in chaos with the barbarians at the door. We know that something has shifted and life will never be the same. Whatever the origin of this call, whatever we call it; shamanic, visionary, spiritual, transpersonal, God…it has the effect of placing us beyond the limits of conventional reality because it alters profoundly what we have believed to be true about our relationship to the universe. There is a sense that something unknown is bending our awareness far beyond the trance of the shopping channels to the perception that we are in fact, divine beings. However we arrive at this awesome awareness, once it has started, we cannot stop the process. We have not so much been chosen as we have been magnetized by the gravity of the great Attractor. We are heading with increasing speed into the center of the cosmic Mandala, the black hole in our own universe through which we are being reborn as a new species. Part of the urgency of this call seems to come from sensing ourselves not as an isolated microscopic entity powerlessly stranded on a random rock in space, but as a vibrant jewel of light interconnected in an awesome neural net that is at least 4 billions years old. This “net” seems to exist as a spectacular species mind utterly intent on remembering not only its entire evolutionary past but in manifesting its yet unrealized future, all in the context of some inscrutable cosmic purpose. It is this plan and the divine intention that created it that we are now becoming conscious of. How did it happen that this enormous Being began to awaken? I don’t know. But it seems that the entire species is being awakened from a collective dream, all at once, at this moment in history. And this mass awakening is unprecedented in the experience of the species. Everything we see, the violence, the collapse, the chaos, the collective terror, the world wide tyranny, is all an indication that some new Great Story, some new Myth (in the Joseph Campbell sense of the word) is emerging into the collective consciousness bringing with it the power to renew our decaying world. In a word, we are becoming conscious of our own metamorphosis. The awe of feeling ourselves part of a vast intentional evolution for some mysterious purpose not yet realized can cause one to feel completely overwhelmed. The huge jolt of cosmic energy surging through tiny wires not designed for this kind of download can create heat and resistance that in turn can translate into somatic symptoms, illness, panic, anxiety, disorientation, despair and even a kind of divine madness. Is this like the shamanic sickness of old morphed into a newer more collective form? I wonder how many people are having the experience right now of this kind of call? What would be the effect on them if they knew how many others were having a similar experience? How would it help to renew within them a new image that more accurately reflects their own true identity? I bring this up because I am sharing such an experience with many others. In my personal case, the reason that I’m an artist at all is because nearly 7 years ago, I experienced a rapid chaotic psycho-physical/transpersonal crisis that we now call a spiritual emergency. And fairly early on a series of mandala images started to pour out of me like a fountain. Each one of them seemed to symbolize concepts like “the unity of life”, “the order behind the chaos,” and the fact that we are love, beauty and magnificence beyond our wildest imaginings. They indicated an intelligence that is “purposeful” and inscrutable. The images indicated that far from being an accident and a mechanical chemical process, our consciousness was beyond the brain and filled with the divine expression of love. That much seemed obvious, even though it contradicted the most ardent assumptions of our science. The process that caused me to release these images from inside me and change the story I was telling myself about who I am nearly did me in. It involved a psychic crucifixion and entry into a dark night in my soul that I feared I would never emerge from. I felt helpless and paralyzed, sure that I was going mad. I experienced being crushed, deconstructed, and shattered almost beyond what I could endure. I was filled with dread, panic, despair, grief, and a feeling that I was ruined and utterly abandoned by God. There were physical symptoms as well: enormous head pressure, ear ringing, shaking, jolts, extreme muscle tension, intolerance of noise, people or TV’s. For a time I couldn’t eat and for a much longer time I couldn’t sleep. I was reduced to taking medications just to get rest. I could easily feel the ears of whales and dolphins being shattered by the Navy’s use of low frequency active sonar. The violence and denial of our society became intolerable. But after more than two years, there were some turning points and I started to get up again and return to myself, albeit once through all that ordeal, I thought I should be done, that I should heal and the trouble recede far behind. But now, 7 years away from that initial crisis, a new round of symptoms have returned, this time in the form of chronic pain, paralyzing fatigue, intolerance of inauthenticity in myself and others, and the sense that I simply must come out. I have become interested in shamanism, in how to enter non-ordinary realities and contact healing spirits, in how to heal myself. I have felt an urgency to integrate the reality of an emerging new great story. My evidence for the fact that something incredibly significant is happening in the collective consciousness is the response I am receiving to the images I have painted. For the past several years now, as I show my paintings at the Santa Fe Society of Artists art market, I have noticed that there has been a steady stream of people who have “recognized” something in the images that reflects the process they themselves have been going through. They have wanted to talk, to share their own experiences, to somehow validate that they are not alone. Like myself, they have craved some new way at looking at the chaos, hopelessness, powerlessness and grief that we are all experiencing in the collapse of our institutions, our natural world, and in our own world views. We are wandering now in a new territory. We are like children, Hansel and Gretel; no breadcrumbs to throw down, no string to mark the return path. We are together now in crisis, which is marked by danger on the one hand and opportunity on the other. It is the signature of The Great Awakening that is happening now. In ancient myths, the archetype of the hero’s journey begins with the loss of their familiar surroundings, which leads to the “ordeal.“ The hero or heroine finds themselves in strange territories, magical circumstances, and arduous encounters with danger that tests their courage and endurance. The ordeal is the prerequisite for finding magical helpers, mentors, allies, animal guides and divine assistance. The hero or heroine is forced to go beyond their own limited boundaries in order to get gifts they need to survive the uncertainty and danger and bring back to their communities so that the people can once again thrive. Like them, we have been dragged or tricked into in a collective underworld, with strange hands reaching out to grab us even as we try to escape dark corridors of uncharted territory. Even though there is the world of politics and TV, of newspapers and shopping, of traffic and work, there is the terrifying sense that we are no longer in a world we know. There is climate change, blatant political corruption, institutional collapse, unspeakable violence, economic cruelty, torture and endless war. Our culture has lost spiritual and moral power and compensates with delusions of exceptionalism. There is no way out. We are in a box canyon. We cannot go back, terrified of going forward. We live in a collective schizophrenia: On the one hand, our science tells us there is no God, no spirit, no healing energies, no life after death. We are “random accidents.” On the other our religions have reduced God to a homophobic, irrational, scripture-thumping tyrant obsessed with abortion and filled with rage, violence, retribution and damnation. The collective belief system about who we are and why we are here that has been cobbled together with 400-year old scientific assumptions and 2000-year old religious dogmas are collapsing in conflict and impotence. Instead it has become a tool for tyrants and vested interests to preserve their own power. No wonder we are afraid! At times we ask, “Why me?” We may feel despair. Yet we know instinctively that we must continue onward, that we cannot live there. We must endure and dance with the pain that comes from living in these times. To stay sane we must listen to the cosmic music and find a way to communicate with the healing spirits that await our presence. The reality of our times is bringing forth the voice of not just our individual souls but of our collective soul. The soul’s emergence is a call to become more authentic and listen not to second hand religious stories or societal threats to conform but to our connection to a living Spirit that is now returning to its own creation. The reward of attending to this call is to release a great gift within us, one that perhaps we never even knew we had. It is the gold we are given when we return from the ordeal of being refashioned, which is what happens when we wander in this new uncharted territory. It is how the new great story manifests in us with the power to assist in renewing a world dying from lack of vision and leadership. The Great Awakening is the dawn of a new great story about an entire species emerging from the earth-spell, away from the conviction that we must somehow escape into the light this hellish entrapment of physicality and into the realization that we belong here, that we have a right to thrive and shine, that we are here to embody heaven on earth! We are in process. No matter how strongly our body’s clench or how many times the old traumas surface, we are healing. What is happening now is a blessing, even if it is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. As unfathomable and as ruthless as this process seems now, still, it is guided by a profound love and compassion for what we are being asked to endure. Perhaps we are doing so for the sake of realizing a grand purpose and pattern set forward at the beginning of the Creation itself by this divine being of which we are an integral and indescribably loved part. For without our willing participation, how can it ever know Itself? As Rumi writes of God telling Moses, “I was a treasure and I desired to be known.”