image credit: alicepopkorn
One of the most important lessons I learned when I taught preschool was that all children inherently act from a place of good intentions no matter how that is expressed in their behavior. From what I was taught and from what I observed, children are always trying to figure out for themselves how reality works. They have all kinds of creative ideas and put forth those ideas into actuality to see how their ideas are received and the outcome of these actions. Sometimes the outcome of their actions are harmful to themselves, others and the environment, although they were executed with good intentions in the spirit of wanting to understand. This is how nature intends for a child to grow to be autonomous with a strong sense of self, leading to full individuation where he is totally self sufficient and responsible. When he grows to adulthood and separates from his parents, he draws upon the vast collection that is the sum total of his creative experimentation from birth to adolescence to adulthood. The best teachers and caretakers are the ones who recognize the value of this learning by experimentation and allow freedom of expression within the limits of safety and respect for others. When there is need to correct a child, it is important to work with addressing the behavior rather than finding fault with the person.
As I was reflecting on what is happening in our world today, with economic crisis, war, corruption, and gross injustices inflicted upon whole societies, it occurred to me, that just as children are learning about how reality works by putting forth their ideas into the world, learning from the outcome, we too are still doing this as adults. We are still learning, only now the experiments are a little more sophisticated and ideological. Take for example, the continuing strife in the Middle-East where intolerance of religion may be the root cause for conflict, the economic crisis stemming from personal greed and corruption, the genocide that is happening unchecked while the rest of the world looks on, environmental disasters and climate change, etc. All these circumstances can be viewed as people learning lessons about acceptance of differences, integrity, social morality, and compassion to name a few.
Just as we tolerate children experimenting with life, I personally believe that in order for me to be at peace with everything that is going on now, I need to have the same outlook as when I was working with children. I need to critique the behavior, not the people who are acting out. Everyone, just as when they were children, acts with good intentions. Now the stakes are higher, we as a society are not as tolerant of each other’s creative experimentation with ideas when they mess things up for a lot of other people. We have reached at a point in history when the outcome of years of misguided ideology, corrupt morals and unchecked consumption and greed is being displayed in blaring neon signs of consequences.
This is such a critical time to hone the spiritual teachings that we have been given and to practice what we have learned. One important teaching I work on remembering is how to stay present in the Now. With so many doomsday sayers and predictors of negativity, it is important to not get carried away in imagined futures. Staying grounded and clear gives us options to act to make positive changes that will turn the tide of events. How we relate to ourselves and each other has a chain reaction. If each of us does this, we can effect a surge of positive energy and be a force for the change that we want to see. Otherwise, we will drown in hopelessness and helplessness if we keep listening to those who take pleasure in predictions of chaos and doom.
The other teaching that I work at focusing on is the premise that the greater part of ourselves is already whole, full of integrity, love and goodness and we are just temporarily lost and deluded by our ego’s folly. When I look at the war that is happening in Iraq, I try to see that our leaders really had good intentions, that they really thought it would be beneficial. They are not evil or insane people, but just like everyone else, are learning about values and consequences. With that perspective, I can stay grounded which does not mean that I close my eyes to what is going on in a kind of Pollyanna, spiritual indifference. It helps me to see with clarity that the events that are being played out are growing pains and are a necessary part of our evolution. Catastrophizing and condemning or demonizing the people whom we hold responsible is useless, and only exacerbate a negative polarity that diminishes our strength and courage to work towards a brighter future.
So these are interesting times; we are at a point where we can choose to take the step towards healing, and change the nature of the events we have set into motion or not. Whether or not we choose to heal, we are all on the path of the spiritual healing journey. Some of us are being side tracked, pursuing the demigods of misplaced power and glory or getting stuck in the morass of anger, jealousy, pride and greed along the way. It really doesn’t matter on a soul level, it is all just a play of consciousness. The 14th century Tibetan Dzogchen master, Long Chen Pa. said: Since everything is but an apparition, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter….