“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.