If one seeks inner peace, tranquility and serenity, all relationships are a challenge. When we look at how even a personal relationship founded in love can be at times so difficult, it is easy to see why our community, national and international relationships (which are essentially what politics is about) border on insanity. Yet, we are inevitably involved in these relationships.
I’ve been told many times by people on a spiritual path that they will no longer pay attention to politics; “There’s too much fear and anger; it’s too disturbing and unproductive.” Yet, before long I always hear those same people complain or express their anger at what is going on. It’s only natural to feel the distress at injustice, the oppression of one people by another, the destruction of the natural balance with Mother Earth. These people are, after all, our brothers and sisters; Mother Earth is our mother. As Bernie Sanders says, “We hurt when they hurt.” There is no escaping it, least of all through spiritual awareness which makes us even more sensitive to our interconnectedness.
The pain we feel is the calling of attention to problems that won’t go away by ignoring them, nor by wringing our hands. The pain calls us to heal and to act. To act wisely, yes. To act with compassion, yes. To act with awareness of the ultimate peace that abides at all times throughout all this, yes. Truly, it is from that peace that right action flows.
Being honest here, the recent events in Baton Rouge, in Minnesota and in Dallas had me floored, disheartened and feeling hopeless. I still feel a deep heaviness in my heart, even more so by the divisive reactions to the events that seem to be escalating. For myself, I have found that meditation and related spiritual practices allow me to return to the deeper truths, to regenerate my body and mind, and to reconnect with that eternal optimistic Spirit that creates and affirms life.
I really don’t have the answers to our collective problems. But I do know that for me, as a White male, I need to stand in solidarity with those whose peace of mind, in fact their lives, are threatened every day because of the color of their skin. I need to do my part to help end the fear and racism with which we all have been infected. I need to, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes says so movingly, wisely and eloquently, “mend the part of the world that is within my reach.”
Please read Ms. Estes’ very inspiring and wise words below.
Thank you for doing your part
in and for peace,
(P.S. I am open to and appreciate your own thoughts and feelings. If you would like more information on groups and books that offer perspective on integrating spirituality and the political world, I would be happy to share that with you.)
We Were Made For These Times
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.