December 21, 2012
Today is the day the world is supposed to “end.” Given all that we have been experiencing and witnessing, maybe it is. Perhaps what is ending is the world as we know it. Perhaps what is ending is a world we blindly created and lived. Perhaps what is ending is our unconscious focus on fear – fight, flight, freeze – with a radical shift to consciously live and lead our lives from love – care, understanding, respect. The world we know will end – bringing the opportunity for new beginnings – when we choose and commit to change ourselves.
Breakdown to Breakthrough
Globally, we have experienced a multitude of violent, catastrophic and devastating events in the last 10+ years. We are seeing generations of abuse and exploitation exposed. Many of us have withdrawn emotionally, mentally and physically, ignoring our inhumanity and indifference towards one another. What happened last Friday and since in Newtown is, in the word of a friend who lives there, “surreal”, beyond mental comprehension and understanding. We all deeply feel and share sorrow, rage and despair at the loss of these innocent lives.
Newtown brings a loss of innocence to all of us. The worst in us and the best in us were revealed in the same moments. We can no longer close our eyes, be silent, and pretend ignorance. Newtown is our “tipping point” for how we create our future. If we allow, our breaking hearts will wake us up to courage, resolve and perseverance that says “never again.” Not just to gun violence but to all the ways that we are violated and we violate others.
This means we stop looking outside of ourselves for something or someone else to blame or “fix.” The truth is that what’s on the inside shows up on the outside. Together, we ourselves have created a society with the conditions that enabled this to happen. Our collective concepts, actions and laws are an amalgamation of our individual thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values that we largely force on one another.
Our individual responsibilities as human beings mean responsiveness to one another. We have seen the enemy and it is us. We created this tragedy and have a hand in every one of the others. We are all responsible by what we accept and how we act. Both as individuals and as a society, we can no longer be innocent of our creations.
Life is showing us what is unsustainable. It’s not about gun laws which are merely one symptom. It’s about the fundamentals of every aspect of our social structures: government, business, education, and religion. The old way, the way of fear, is in breakdown. When the Romans encountered a “problem”, they wrote new laws. When the Greeks encountered a “problem”, they created a new approach or concept. We can’t legislate ourselves to universal peace and prosperity.
Breakdown can only bring breakthrough when we fully engage with one another with an intention of universal well-being. Breakthrough means conscious choice and response rather than automatic, fear-based, conditioned reactions. Breakthrough means a life of integrity, the conscious integration and wholeness of mind, heart, body and soul; thoughts, emotions, actions and spirit. Breakthrough means authenticity, being the author of life and acting from the core of our being, that which unites us.
About Love and Life
Why do we avoid speaking of and practicing “love”? It is a focal point and deepest value of all the world’s traditions and a majority of us say that we see ourselves as either religious or spiritual. Religious, spiritual or not, love is the most universal of human values. Look in the mirror. What we actually value is what shows up in the choices and actions of our day-to-day lives. Our hypocrisies are rampant; we live divided lives.
Love is simply a label that we give the energy of unity that we sense or feel that is present in all things. It is what physicists call the quantum or unified field. It is the source of our drive for connection, coherence and wholeness; for purpose and meaning; for self-determination and choice; for evolution and mastery. It is the energy of engagement and co-creation. We experience and express love as common ground, serving the greater good and engaging with care, understanding, respect, and responsiveness. Love is about acknowledgment, acceptance and appreciation for all that life offers.
Love is an openness that is full of possibility to realize the potential of the moment for the good in life to express. Yet we fear this openness, this space. It feels empty, void, that we are out of control. It is only in this openness that is without constraint that the greatest good can be known and expressed. Love as unity is life, the spirit in all things. The emptiness we feel and try to fill with external things is a denial of our unity, our spirit, our love within.
Fear distorts our perception; it blocks our ability to see, feel and experience this unity. Fear drives our habitual patterns of behavior anchored in the belief in separation. Fear drives our insatiable desire for power and “winning at all costs.” Fear is prevalent when we take positions, control, dominate, exploit, or oppress others; treat people as objects, kill or maim, and destroy nature. The source of fear is our beliefs about how life should be, our personal and social conditioning based in the past. Fear alienates us from living life and from one another.
Much of what we call “love,” are actually our fear-based projections of not having it. Hence, our experience of love depends on feelings of attraction, affection, attachment, and approval. It is based in our conditioned beliefs and fears of being alone, outcast, rejected. It is our idea about what love should be that separates us, serves to protect our egos and get something from others, not the reality of love as unity. Love, unity, is always present. Acting from fear and suppressing the experience of love results in chaos and suffering. In every moment we either choose love or react from fear.
Love, as unity, is of the heart which the mind does not comprehend. Our awareness and consciousness of life comes only from the heart. The mind can only produce ideas and thoughts about how life should be. Only the heart gives us the direct experience of life as it is and who we are. Honesty is the truth of the mind; truth is the honesty of the heart. Love is the truth of the heart. Love is the only answer. Love is the energy that makes all things possible. Engagement with life is the dynamic movement of giving and receiving love.
Focus expands. Will we focus on love – care, understanding, respect? Or, will we focus on fear – fight, flight, freeze? Will we focus on the eternal presence and stillness of love within ourselves? Or, will we focus on the incessant search and striving for external validation that results in duality and polarization, right/wrong, good/bad? This is our unrelenting battle. Love grows love. Fear grows fear. At the same time, fear contracts and limits our experience of life. Love generates the infinite expansion of life and its gifts. Love is the one value that we universally share yet we allow fear to govern our lives. Fear dissolves when we think with our hearts and love with our minds.
Through our shared emotions, the pain of traumatic events serves to break our hearts open, liberating us from the mind’s fears and allowing our true nature to be revealed. Traumatic events can awaken us to the truth of our being as spirit, as love, in human form. Heroes emerge and we all find the courage and resolve to respond. We show our greatest strength and power in our vulnerability and willingness to experience emotional pain. This is love.
Participation in transformation is an individual choice to release our conditioned, fear-based beliefs and actions and instead live from our heart. When we think and act from care, understanding and respect for ourselves and all of life, we move with and facilitate our shift. When we act from fear, resisting the shift, we continue to have intense “negative” experiences.
Our world is a perfect reflection of our collective hearts and consciousness that is made manifest. Will we choose to live in the present moment reality of love as unity or in the ongoing shadow of fear, projecting and broadcasting our past into our future experience?
Commitment to Our Future
The reverse of “live” is “evil.” Anything that does not foster life, foster love is “evil.” When all we do is take, see what we can get, separate ourselves from one anther, and disown the results of our thoughts, feelings and choices, we are evil.
Life invites us to take a pledge for 2013 and beyond to live fully, to engage with life and others with love – care, understanding, respect, and responsiveness. Life invites us to commit to leading as love which is leadership in service to life – Universal Leadership.
Universal Leadership is an openness that is empty of preconceptions and conditions and full of possibility and potential. Universal Leaders act from and foster our unity. Common ground and deep care for the greatest good are established in our inherent unity that is love, not in agreement around an external issue. We only unite with others from the inside. Universal Leaders honor our totality of being as human and spirit. Universal Leaders call forth the human spirit that is in each of us to express. Universal Leaders make an unconditional commitment to consciously create a future that serves life. Universal Leaders are consciously awake, spiritually aware, and psychologically integrated.
Universal Leadership is our personal choice. The ultimate paradox is that we can change the world only through individual change of what’s inside: our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values of how we view and interact with life. Violence, exploitation and oppression will continue until we end the war within, the battle to suppress the truth of the heart: our connection and unity as human beings and with all of life.
In this season of great joy that brought us deep sorrow, may we recognize that Newtown is showing us both our polarities and our unity and so recognize both our individual and collective responsibility in creating our world. May this be the blessing and gift of all who died or suffered in this and all other human-made violence and catastrophes and natural disasters of recent years. May Newtown truly bring us a “New-town”, a new life, a new way of being.
As 2012 is ending let us start anew, full of possibility, refreshing the canvas of our lives. In our rebirth, let us celebrate, be grateful, and honor life. In our rebirth, let us celebrate, be grateful, and honor that we are the only species on earth with the capacity to make conscious choices and know that we are the creators of our experience. In our rebirth, let us celebrate, be grateful, and honor that we are an expression of spirit in all that is. In our rebirth, let us consciously live the truth of our being, the truth of love.
As Universal Leaders we sense an opening into which love can be brought forth. We are ready. Now is the time. We are the ones to midwife love. Let us trust the goodness in life and allow ourselves to be moved by love, the unity within. Then, and only then, will there be peace on earth.
Will we make this ultimate commitment? Will we let our lives, our hearts, speak? Will we bring light to the world on this day of the longest night of darkness? Will we say yes to truth, the light, the movement of love that we are?
“I lead by word and deed simply because I am here doing what I do.
The power for authentic leadership is not found in external arrangements but in the human heart. Authentic leaders in every setting, aim at liberating the heart, their own and others’, so that its power can liberate the world…. External reality does not impinge upon us as an ultimate constraint: if we who are privileged find ourselves confined, it is only because we have conspired in our own imprisonment… We make the world what it is by projecting our spirit on it, for better or for worse. If our institutions are rigid, it is because our hearts fear change; if they set us in mindless competition with each other, it is because we value victory above all else; if they are heedless of human well-being, it because something in us is heartless as well.
We all can make choices about what we are going to project, and with those choices we help grow the world that is. Consciousness precedes being: consciousness, yours and mine, can form, deform or reform our world. Our complicity in world-making is a source of awesome and sometimes painful responsibility – and a source of profound hope for change. It is the ground of our common call to leadership, the truth that makes leaders of us all.”
Let Your Life Speak – Parker Palmer
Many Blessings and Much Love to you and yours this Holiday Season.