STAND YOUR GROUND

 

This cowboy title of this law was made famous in the Trevon Martin case in 2012. It has since become a symbol of what can be called defensive aggression.  Agressively defending MY gound, MY country, MY people. And the more we defend our ground and the more we cling to things that are MINE, the less space we have for others. The less room for altenatives. We begin to live in MY very lonely world.

 

But, where is MY country, exactly? And who are MY people?  A cursory survey of genetic development shows that compared with other strains of flora and fauna humans are unnaturally homogeneous. And, over time, the racial strains within that tight genetic structure are pretty well mixed. Its hard to say who is who, except that all of us are pretty much the same. This makes the theory of master races pretty thin. Its as though we have to invent system that dont exist to simply not believe them.

 

All cultures have developed  spiritual systems and the majority of which recognize a superior deity or deities. And if you assembled a room full of congregants of one church would any two of them be praying to the same god? The entire council might go to war or be put to death defending this church, but would any two of the combatants actually know the same god. In fact, do you? Is there a consistant picture in your mind about the source of spiritual understanding? Yet, how stridently we will define ourselves by these beliefs.

 

I’ll kick your butt over my right to not know what I believe.  Damn yo’.

 

I recently saw a homeless fellow collecting change on a New York City street. I was going to drop in a dollar when I saw a swastika tattoo quite prominently exposed on his calf. I stiffened, kept my cash and stepped around him, down the street. But, my head went into a tirade. Go back to your country, I thought. This is New York. MY city. You’re not welcome here. Go back to YOUR wretched world with its wretched people spouting its wretched doctrines. We are free here in MY city.

 

MY city, where no two of us like the same bagel. Not if you get down to the actual schmear.

 

And for a few minutes I fought myself not to circle around and tell him off.  I had a head of wuips, stories and arguments. But, one thing kept coming back to block me. The kid looked sick. He looked hurt. And, truth is, no matter how mean someone looks, we’re all broken. We share the same fesrs and fall back on the same strategies to avoid pain. No one flowers gracefully into hate. Toxic philosophies are hard wrought. They are forged in violence and cruelty passed down from parent to children. That swastika was not a badge of strength, as much as a scab covered bruise. It hurt to receive it, as much as it must have hurt to have worn it.

 

Eventually, I calmed down enough to ask myself what I was defending. Evidencce: I was riled. I was angry. Therefore, I had to have been defending something. Was I really lashing out against cruelty, or acting out against my own wounds?  Is my self-identified non-violent activism ultimately a misdirect of a deep rooted aggression?  Is the Bodhisattva vow reducable to  a shield protecting the ugly sores of upbringing? Am I dedicating my life to bringing meditation to the world simply as a way of condeming the the part of the world I see as against me?

 

Are sny if us using love as a weapon?  Or,  do we live because we truly believe humankind DESERVES to be loved?

 

The truth is, wounded animals are dangerous when threatened. This is true no matrer how sweet the animal is otheewise. The fact that it wants to give and receive love doesn’t make it any less dangerous. So, as we”re wounded, how to procede? Keep silent? Hide? Absolutely not. The wounded are the most dangerous and best placed to talk to afflicted others who are at tge vanguard of hate. So we can ignite the dangerous flame of hstred, or use the light of compassion to touch those who refuse to listen. The fact is, love is a more affective way to communicate.

 

The more we cling to a ground made up of conceptual identity, the less grounded – and more inherently insecure – we become. Rather than focusing on what we might become, or even who we are in the present time and space, we select instances from the path that help solodify a picture that is not real, but a distracted reaction to our fear. We so want to be, that we create a ME. And more often as otherwise, that ME finds its strength in what its not.

 

So, yeah, lets go to war to prove we’re not gay, or Jewish or German or Muslim. Only, we are all of these things. And the only battle we ultimately fight is against ourselves.

A TALE OF TWO WORLDS

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope…”  

 

In pethaps the greatest run on sentence in literary history, Dickens painted the picture of the modern epoch. This is a precariously magnificant time, a time of unfiltered hatred and burgeoning compassion. Humanity is waking up slowly, but the raging hangover of past indulgences is nonetheless clashing awkwardly with the beauty of a bright new day.

 

But, are we awake or asleep?

 

Buddhist texts refer to these times as the dark age; a time when good and bad rise to a head. It is not dark as in ‘dark obscuring the light’, but, dark illuminated by light. If we are able to leap into believing in the inherent goodness of humankind we can see this as a time when our resistsnce and neurosis become more apparent.  And, hence a time when healing and resolution are most accessible. Rather than leaving darkness sequestered in the night, we have an opportunity to bring this to the light and work with the defensive urges that have been motivating human behavior for so long.

 

Unlike Christian stories of Armageddon where good and evil square off in a movie directed by Michael Bay, the Buddhist version has more to do with a knitting of fabrics, a coming together of elements into a new compound. Maybe more like a film by Daron Aaronovsky. Which means a psychic blending of tendencies that never resolve into easy answers – or a simple movie.  On one hand, we have good and evil becoming more opposed until one – presumably good – wins out. Perhaps the modern definition of good is that which wins out. On the other hand, we have good and evil – light and dark – entwined in a dance fantastique that will spin until the pieces blend, the bubble pops, and a new agency is formed.

 

Tantric master Trungpa Rinpoche likened these times to a cosmic pimple popping – a heightening of neurosis and wisdom that leads to an opening from which new possibilities are formed. One doesn’t defeat the other so much as their clashing brings about greater awareness of pain and the suffering caused by an inapropriate relationship to pain.

 

It is my belief that we can navigate this confluence and take agency in the coming singularity. By training the mind in mindful awareness we gain control of impulses, by slowing down the point of impact and creating a buffer that allows us the time to RESPOND consciously rather than REACT reflexively. By learning to learning to guide ourselves from one trigger to the next without fistraction or reaction we can possibly learn to help  humanity through the turmoil into its next phase. Whether that phase is a greater sense of space and understanding leading to a flowering or its much predicted demise, may be in our hands. And the time to gain MANUAL control of the micro steps of our destiny may be right now.

 

In order to navigate this grand confluence we might have to slow down and begin to unpack the presumptive reasoning of being right. How do we see beyond our framed thinking into an acceptance of all that is coming toward us without losing ourselves? Well, maybe we can stand to loose some of ourselves. Or even a lot of ourselves. Maybe we can begin by recognizing all that keeps us from assimilation, and simply relax into the convergence, turn off our aggression and float into change WITH OUR EYES OPEN.

 

Working with synchronicity is a process of letting go and yet navigating the flow. Unlike other traditions that imply we can either resist or comply with a script, the Buddhist point of view  is that once we awaken – that is when we become conscious – we can navigate rather than aquiece or resist and in effect co-create the script of exustence with the universe. The universe, in this case, is the karmic web created by past actions moving in various vectors into future space. It is like an ocean of currents, each with thier own momentum. Navigating these currents means accepting thier existence and sitting up above the water line, being able to see where we are heading, and having the resolve to move away from the momentum of self interest into the undefined waters of discovery.

 

Navigating the white water confluence of past actions into future possibility takes letting go of our aggression, self-interest and resistance and allowing the natural change of things to take place. By keeping our eyes open during the change we can move into the open space of possibility, discovery and communication. Looking into the fear, darkness and aggression of our ancient pain, we can see our suffering in others. Understanding how misunderstanding our pain has caused us to act blindly, hurting ourselves and others, we can see how others have done the same to us. We are all fighting ancient demons snd blaming each other for our pain. We are all human and we are all suffering by our own hand. If we see this, pethaps the possibility of repairing that cycle of aggression is possible.

 

With our eyes open into the turmoil we can keep our balance and begin to pull each other from the roil. Or, with eyes and fists clenched against the current we will drown ourselves and each other. Maybe the duality isnt between good and evil, left and right or right and wrong. Its about seeing or ignoring. Either we wake up communicate and learn to stabilize the world of compassion, or shut down and solidify a world of hate, pain and aggression.

 

So, is this the best of worlds ir the worst?

 

Yes. It is both and because of that it is a magnificant time to be awake.