When you “lose heart,” you become discouraged and lose hope. When you “have heart,” you keep your faith and trust in spite of the odds. We are living at a time in which both of these options present themselves. The shadow side of our collective consciousness in the United States is coming to the fore, and we are seeing people fiercely hanging on to privileges and prejudices as if their lives depended on it. In truth, it is their identities, their egos, that depend on belief systems based in hierarchy and entitlement.
The 1% believe they have earned their place at the top of the heap and that those they have stepped on and profited from in order to get there are losers and leeches. Minorities and immigrants are targeted as threats to an elitist, white-male status quo. The exact opposite of the values of democracy and equal rights that this country is supposedly founded on. Of course, those founders were also white, male, and many were slaveholders, so the underside of American “freedom” has always existed.
When the rest of us look at this scenario, our hearts are tested. Will we lose hope or will we keep our faith that the imbalances will eventually right themselves? To paraphrase (and update) Thomas Paine: these are the times that try human souls. Can generosity, compassion, and loving-kindness eventually prevail in a society like ours where the accumulation and hoarding of monetary wealth and material possessions, as well as the oppression of entire segments of the population, is so widespread? Classism and racism overlay our so-called democratic society, to say nothing of sexism.
Everyone’s consciousness is affected by this skewed worldview. Many with more don’t want to give up what they have in order to assist others who have less. The media promotes consumerism and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as if these were behaviors to aspire to. The artificially created “need” to buy and keep buying invades our daily lives. Unless we make a conscious decision not to participate. Unless we choose sharing over greed, caring over selfishness, simplicity instead of overconsumption. Unless we choose to live from our hearts and not our conditioning.
All the extremes and polarities are being displayed in full view of the world. The advent of Trumpism as a belligerent, self-aggrandizing approach to life is pervasive. There is an increasingly harsh and ruthless holding on to privilege, often accompanied by hatred of all those who stand up for their rights as equal citizens. Yet, there is a hollowness to these defenders of entitlement. Their hearts seem to be empty, their minds filled with delusions of superiority based on money and power. Appearance is more important than truth. But there is only so long they can maintain that facade. Their extreme behavior is the death rattle of an outdated paradigm, doomed to disappear like the dinosaurs.
Hope for the future lies with those who are, everywhere on this planet, now awakening to a conscious awareness that sees unity and commonality, not separation and divisiveness. People whose lives are lived heartfully and soulfully in deep connection with their fellow beings. Generosity of spirit prevails. You don’t hear as much about these individuals, because the media tends to focus on disaster and destruction instead of imaginative and inspired alternatives to power and elitism. But they/we are out here, and we are not going away.
Even though at times the odds seem overwhelming, we mustn’t lose heart. In having heart, in living heart, we open the heart of the world to greater compassion and caring so that eventually everyone, every soul on this Earth, can step out of separation and live in oneness. A critical mass of love and kindness has the power to shift everything. You never know when even the most recalcitrant of dinosaurs will have a change of heart. In the long run, hate can never “trump” love.
There is a trend lately to think of certain behaviors as immutable and impossible to change. We hear comments like “Oh, he’s just hard-wired that way.” Meaning, it’s in the genes; he (or she) can’t change. Really? That line of thinking can take us down a rather pessimistic path into entrenched fear. Fear of the external world, fear of change, fear of those different from us. Are these fears hard-wired in us or simply habit? Do our genes control our destiny? Maybe not. Perhaps our genes and we ourselves can be transformed by shifts in collective consciousness and the power of divine energy. By connecting through the heart with our fellow human beings and to the God/dess within us.
Biologist and author Bruce Lipton has written about “spontaneous evolution.” He cites scientific studies that show that “genetic determinism” is an outdated belief, and we are not victims of heredity. Signals from our external (or internal) environment ultimately control gene activity. Translated, this means that genetic predispositions can be overridden by real-world experiences such as those that open our hearts or connect us with our soul. Spiritual awakenings or other transformative moments have a power that can break through habitual personality patterns. As our awareness grows, we can also consciously choose to align with our soul instead of our personality self or ego.
New neural pathways are laid down in the brain with each change in consciousness or new experience that is consistently repeated (neuroplasticity). In other words, we are not doomed to replay old behaviors, thoughts, and memories over and over. As we allow accumulated emotions to be felt and released, space is freed up for the full power of the soul to take its place at the leading edge of our awareness and our lives. Within a regular spiritual practice, hard wires can be disconnected and old habits broken. Something as simple as meditating and aligning with your inner spirit on a daily basis, in your home or in nature, can open the door to this process. You begin to see the world and others with fresh eyes.
Right now, in this moment, breathe and let go into the inner peace and stillness inside you. Your soul is “wireless” and has no attachment to past experiences. Allow it, and the breath, to guide you to a totally present-moment experience of life, wherein peace alone fills your conscious awareness and defines your day. In doing so, you are no longer tied irrevocably to past behaviors and feelings that are fear-based. In the present, nothing exists except beingness and love, which is God embodied in human form. Fear cannot exist in the presence of love. Breathe in divine energy and breathe out old restrictions and preconceptions. In this state you are free, liberated from everything that has held you back in the past.
I find that when I consistently and consciously choose to let my soul lead the way, I start to recognize opinions and judgments, whether mine or someone else’s, for what they are: replayed past fears that separate people from one another. If I live from an open heart, I begin to think of people as doing the best they can with the awareness they have at the moment. This applies to self-recrimination as well. To see everyone, including myself, as being in the process of evolving allows for the possibility of transformation, individually and globally. No one is hard-wired for anything really—except love.
Elephants, dolphins, and whales are three of the most intelligent, grace-filled beings on Earth. In this week’s video blog, I talk about my own experiences with them and offer a prayer/plea for their survival. May we humans open our awareness and step away from cruel and heartless behaviors that endanger the lives and well-being of these magnificent creatures we share the planet with. Save the elephants. Save the dolphins. Save the whales. Save all animals. And in doing so, save the sweet grace they embody in their lives.
It has become a social media phenomena, the #MeToo that says “yes, I too have been sexually harassed or abused.” Women’s voices are finally being heard and acknowledged in huge numbers after years of fear, shame, secrecy, and silence. We have endured hidden and overt harassment in our lives since childhood. Children of both sexes have also been subjected to sexual abuse, and women of all ages have been raped and traumatized. At last, the invisible is becoming visible, and the secrets are becoming public as courageous individuals shine the light of truth on sexual predation and disempowerment.
Presidents, priests, Olympic doctors, Hollywood moguls, and countless unnamed others are part of a worldwide epidemic of disrespect and sexual violation. With great bravery and integrity, women, and adults of both sexes who were abused as children, are speaking up and sharing the experiences they have held inside themselves for so long. Each revelation empowers others to speak up and say “me too.” Each voice that is heard adds to the collective transformation from personal trauma to liberation from fear and shame.
All these secret transgressions are being revealed because the time of rape and violation behind closed doors is coming to an end. The secrets are being revealed, and the collective voice of humanity is saying “no more.” “Me too” empowers each of us in our lives to speak up and stand with others who have been hurt and shamed by assault and harassment. Personally, I know of no one among my women friends (and a number of men, as well as gender fluid and transgender, friends) who has not experienced some form of sexual hatred or harassment. Me too.
From catcalls in the street, to unwelcome comments or touching from bosses, landlords, dentists, or complete strangers, to the violence of rape, we have experienced disrespect and disregard for our basic humanity. It is ending. The courage and strength of a few individuals has become an avalanche of shared stories and coming together. Yes, me too…and no more. We are stepping out of the old framework based in “power over” into a new paradigm of inner power based in compassion and respect for all—adults, children, elders, animals, plants, and Mother Earth herself.
“Me too” is about inner fortitude, resilience, and refusal to be silenced and subjected to the will of another ever again. It is also about compassion and empathy for all those who have been in that position. The larger “me too” helps individual women and children of both sexes say No to transgressions against the sanctity of their bodies and souls. For sexual abuse is a violation of the spirit not just the physical form. So many people are disengaged from the spiritual nature of humanity. We are God/dess in human form on this Earth. If this were universally understood, then everyone would see that our human bodies are sacred temples for the soul, never to be desecrated or violated. When individuals are aligned with their inner divinity, only love and compassion are possible in the outer world. The time has come for a healing of spirit and form, in all people.
The chorus of voices now speaking the truth shines light into a world darkened by soul-less actions and horrible violations of the human spirit. Awakening is occurring, on all levels. We are evolving, as individuals, as collective consciousness, into full awareness of who we really are at the soul level. The strength and determined truthfulness of the few is multiplying until it circles the world in numbers that ultimately will include every living being on this planet. When we say “me too,” we are opening the door to oneness and stepping into a more inclusive and expansive experience of life and the world around us. Finally we can live from love not fear. That is the transformative power of those two simple words: Me too.
In the United States, there are societal rules about when silence or quiet is called for: in temples, churches, and meditation halls; in libraries and classrooms; in funeral homes and cemeteries. This is sanctified silence, the kind that is recognized as fitting into the social structure. The underside of these rules is another kind of silence, the silence of dissociation or noninvolvement, which can translate as complicity: “When there is conflict, keep your mouth shut,” “Don’t get involved,” “It’s not your problem, so why make trouble?” The threat of potential or escalating violence runs through these admonitions. Best to ignore whatever you’ve seen or heard. Only many of us don’t have that option in our lives. And now, increasingly, none of us have that option.
Loud, vocal, and acted-out hatred is playing out in city after city in this country. The kind of racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and homophobia that has always existed but is now being given a green light by behavior and attitudes at the federal level. Nazism and Klanism is in full-out resurgence in this so-called “land of the free.” That freedom was about money, maleness, and white skin when this country began, and it still is. Yes, we have come a long way, but the segments of this society that don’t really want an egalitarian, balanced social framework are still clinging to the illusion of superiority and power. That is the old patriarchal paradigm that is so full of cracks now that even talk show hosts on late-night TV are addressing it. No, we are not going backward, but the labor pains we experience as we birth a new way of being on this planet can be intense and at times frightening.
There is no turning back, however. We signed up for this specific soul incarnation to be part of something monumental. So what do spiritual people, committed to love, peace, and harmony, do at times like these? We can limit exposure to the constant bombardment of negative news alerts, meditate more intensively, and hold love in our hearts and in our lives, but is that enough? Having come of age in the politically active 1960s and 70s and lived that to the full, I know that is part of my heritage, but I also realized over the years there is more to it. I have learned the immense importance of energy and of how our own life force and inner being affects everything around us. The world will change and the paradigm will shift, not from the force of will power and pushing against, but from the steady peaceful walking forward together into a vision of something more open and inclusive. The dynamic energy of transformation—from fear to love.
This vision has a voice, and it emerges from yet another kind of silence: the silence of the soul. On a spiritual path, we often center ourselves in the silent peace at our core. That very silence can give rise to the voice within us that expresses the vision and speaks for the freedom and rights of all people and all beings on this planet. You can remain peaceful and loving and still speak out against injustice and hatred and for unity, connection, and sister/brotherhood. In fact, it is our responsibility to speak up. This can take many forms: in writing articles, in signing petitions, in sending letters and emails, in attending nonviolent marches or gatherings, in joining community groups based in diversity—and, especially, in not letting racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, or homophobic remarks or behavior pass by us, unaddressed. You don’t have to be perfectly articulate or eloquent to honestly and calmly speak from your heart about universal love and human compassion.
Over the years, I have discovered that silence fills my soul at all times. I carry it with me, and it informs my entire life and connects me to the presence that is God. From that place, I share my heart’s vision of a world based in loving-kindness. From that place, I know with everything in me that I am not separate from any other being on Earth and that our voices were given to us for a reason: to speak to one another. From that place, there is only one voice, the voice of love.