Sunday, 12 June 2011

The art of “un-doing” and the birth of a new form of consciousness. .

Somewhere in amongst the maelstrom of 2012 hype about the “End of the World”, and the death of our planet and ourselves, we sometimes come across the optimistic conviction that perhaps we are also birthing a new form of consciousness. The belief is that this will transform the old world order into something grand and altogether different, and that out of this birthing, peace will arise on earth. It is a magnificent vision of harmony, of ecological awareness, of care and of love, which will metamorphose the shattered, exhausted and violent existence within which we presently dwell. The vision seems impossible. How do we achieve such a reconstruction of our world, particularly when the old world order only seems to be strengthening its impact on the earth, and there is a vey real possibility that she will be strangled and we will die as a result of our destructive behaviour?

But the possibility is not so very alien. We, each of us, have within us the potential for being an angel or a demon. We each know, even if we don’t live in either extreme, the felt sense of these potentials. The exquisite experience of allowing the best of our potential to emerge, is accessible through a receptivity and a surrender into a deeper place beneath our interference and control. Our behaviour is usually moulded by a desperate urge to restrain and manipulate our external world, in order to transform it into a place of beauty and support. In fact, all we need to do is to turn inwards, and allow the underlying ground of our being to emerge. In doing so, we transform ourselves, and our external world naturally comes into alignment with that.

Transforming ourselves is impossible if we try to impose an angelic way of being onto how we express ourselves. Transforming our expression of who we are, can only happen authentically if it is a spontaneous, natural response that has arisen out of an internal state of being that we have surrendered into. Sri Nisargadatta, an enlightened sage from India who lived last century, describes it thus,
‘If you want peace and harmony in the world, you must have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds. Such change cannot be imposed; it must come from within. Without peaceful people how can you have peace in the world?”

The birth of a new form of consciousness is the birth of a state of inner stillness, of love and of Presence that is experienced as a felt sense in our bodies here on earth. Thich Nhat Hanh says that the miracle is not to walk on water, but to walk on the land – to be present and open to the experience of that. We all know how to surrender into this stillness within, because we all hold its potential within our collective and individual consciousness. We may be more or less aware of it, but accessing it is the simple task of letting go into what is already there. It isn’t necessary to leave home to find it, we simply come home to ourselves, and sink into the experience of tranquility and presence that underlies the conditionings, fear, anxiety and anger armouring us against the world.

Our perception of this consciousness feels delicate initially. We drop into it and it is felt as a flutter, a momentary awareness of our potential, much as a foetus is felt in the belly when we first discern its movements. The foetus is already there, we have received the pregnancy test results, seen the scans, yet the first felt movements are like a whisper that we cannot quite believe yet. As we come to trust this feeling more, it becomes stronger and sturdier, and our babies grow into movements that are full and rounded, taking up all the space in our bellies. We begin to feel their movements unbidden, they begin to arise without our focusing so intently on them, although they are stronger when we are quietly aware. Some women, who are very perceptive, can feel their babies moving at 8 weeks, even though we’re only supposed to feel them at between 16 and 22 weeks. Rose described the first movements in her belly of her 8 week old baby, and then her recognition of him when she looked deeply,
“He’s very active…. he’s joy, ease and certitude, it’s all truth, truth, and he’s very comfortable with that, nothing to defend…. He’s a bundle of love and joy.” Rose is intuitive and insightful. Towards the end of her session with her baby, she added,
“He’s just showing me a lot of joy and lightness and surrender, and a new sense of what it is to really be in control – there’s nothing rigid, it doesn’t lack fun, or play or joy… He’s coming to bring down an energy, he’s going to embody this energy, the new gate for this generation, to create a platform for it – to balance and aid in our evolution. It’s something very effortless.”

Finding our inner stillness is similar to becoming like Rose’s baby. We have to be very present, to listen with deep and alert awareness. We quiet our churning minds and emotions and our loud bodily demands in order to sink into it. It is like dipping into a stream that runs beneath our usual level of awareness. The Buddhists refer to it as ‘stream entry’. It is the awareness of being a part of and One with a Universal flow of energy that is always there all the time. I call it ‘coming home’. In discussion with a group of friends Ruth called it ‘not interfering’, Annika called it ‘doing less to create more’ and Zo called it ‘being present’. The value of settling back into ourselves and holding space can become a guiding principle. If we cherish this as the core reason for being here, it can serve as a reminder that this is the only work there is, and it assists us to powerfully transform our world, each in our own way. It is the gateway to Shambhala, it is the entry point for bringing heaven to earth and it is right under our noses and easy to access.

Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, described this almost 2000 years ago, when he said,
“He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the Universe.”
We find that from a harmonious place of stillness, the way we respond to our environment changes dramatically and our environment changes its response to us in return. When we are held in the embrace of our underlying True Nature, we could not wish to harm our environment any more than we might harm our finger or foot intentionally. When we drop the shields and defenses that shore up our brittle sense of our separate identity, we recognize that we are not segregated from our surroundings, and that we and the world are One. Then there is nothing that we have to do, because the doing happens naturally. From this place of compassionate awareness, we can only respond appropriately. So it becomes a process of un-doing, the less we ‘do’, the more the world transforms around us. The less we interfere, the more the harmony prevails. The less we stamp ourselves on this earth in order to make our individual mark, the more we live in our truth and our integrity, and the more we become that which we truly Are. Then the doing happens all by itself, so that our responses, which may be stern and strong when the need arises, happen spontaneously, without forcing them and without emotional angst or anger.

Sinking into present moment awareness, as we allow our underlying state of consciousness to reveal itself, we allow it not only for ourselves, but for the collective consciousness as well. Each time one of us accesses this stream of stillness, we strengthen the connection for every other person. There is a tipping point, a 100th monkey phenomenon[1], whereupon, when enough people are merged with their inner stillness, enough of the time, this Still Point[2] has the possibility of breaking through into our collective awareness. Some people will do far less to access this gateway to a new form of consciousness, because the groundbreakers have constructed the paths and the highways for them. We, who are working with this concept today, are blessed to find our way into the stillness so much more easily than the individuals who were forging the way 10, 20 or 100 years ago. Each of us adds a little to the collective whittling away of the perception that controlled pushing and pulling and forcing are our only options within the grand drama of these intense times we are living in. Much as a honey bee collects pollen as part of a single organism that is the hive, in order to keep it alive and flourishing, when we come into alignment with the stillness that belongs to the Whole, we come into alignment with the harmony and order that can create peace on earth.

[1] The hundredth monkey effect is a supposed phenomenon in which a learned behavior spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to all related monkeys once a critical number is reached.

[2] T. S. Eliot, reminded us of this potential in his poem Burnt Norton in 1936;
“Except for the point,
the still point,
There would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.”

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