October 15, 2017
Nothing to Fear
John Gray: Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, volcanos rumbling, wars and rumors of wars, terrorism... anybody feeling apocalyptic these days? The word is usually associated with global cataclysm (actually from a Greek root meaning "deluge"), or catastrophe (from Greek "overturn"), or disaster ("bad star" in Greek), but we may recall that the roots of the word "apocalypse" suggest something else entirely. Its Greek origin translates as "uncover, disclose, reveal."
Other than the tenuous fragility of the manmade world, what is being revealed to us behind current events?
Our daughter, Melissa, knows people who were in the audience during the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. One of her friends related the hysteria and abject terror she experienced in those minutes as bullets sprayed the crowd and wild panic ensued. A friend in Mexico City told us of her personal "earth" continuing to quake, weeks after the earthquake there. If you've ever felt the ground move beneath your feet, you know how unsettling the primal reactions engendered can be. Something assumed to be permanently stable is suddenly shifting, and the experience can rock psychological foundations in an irrational way. We know of friends who evacuated their Texas and Florida homes before hurricanes hit, and others who got out as wildfires in Northern California raged near. Many were, and are, less fortunate.
Look at any area of human experience and we can see and feel discord, unrest, abuses of all sorts, corruption, etc. Most of these are situations we cannot humanly fix or control or even understand. As the inspiring Bill Bahan was wont to say, "You cannot unravel the unreal!" We can't make sense out of the utterly senseless; it's a waste of time and attention to try.
The human state is rife with fear and anger. Millions are engulfed in one or the other or both emotions. I have acquaintances who think I'm an uncaring person because I don't share their seething outrage about other people's crazy behavior or other people's political beliefs and actions, for examples. I care. I care deeply. Just not about their opinions.
I feel fear at times. Don't you? I think we all do; nobody's exempt. We feel lots of things. But I remind myself that these sorts of feelings are perceptions. Let's not confuse them with ourselves! Why assume your feeling perceptions are you? However, that's what most people do.
Yesterday I walked near a garbage dumpster outside our local supermarket. A breeze wafted the strong, rank smell of putrefying refuse to my nose, but I was not for an instant confused into believing I was the source of the stink! Our senses serve to alert us and keep us aware of what's around. Whether pleasant or horrific, these are perceptions. Emotional feelings are likewise. Just because it may be happening very near you—maybe even in your body!—doesn't mean it's you. This shouldn't be subtle stuff. Sometimes I tell my mind, "Pay attention!" I am the awareness that sees and hears and feels. What I sense in this way isn't me, the one who senses it.
Fearful events are closer to home for many of us these days. At the same time financial markets ride high; maybe all the media noise isn't bothersome to big money interests. What a bizarre state of affairs! It may seem the world's gone mad. What on earth is going on? Well, humanity is in a crazy state, but it didn't just happen recently! Apologies to filberts, pistachios, and cashews, but human beings have been nuts for centuries. And today there are far more of us around than ever. Are insanity and its results escalating? Certainly! And I doubt we've seen anything yet.
Millions of earnest people pray for an intervention to relieve humankind's miseries and salve the world's sufferings. Most often these requests are couched in religious terms of one sort or another, though recently I heard a radio talk by someone convinced that benign extraterrestrials will arrive any day now in their spaceships to rescue humanity. It sounded to me like a storyline for a movie, but he was serious. The radio host closed the segment with the question, "Is there life beyond planet Earth?"
Extraterrestrial life? Of course there is extraterrestrial life! Life is everywhere! Intelligent life. Only earthlings have a moribund experience. The cosmos is full of life. We may think we're a speck in its immeasurable expanse, but we're not alone, separate and abandoned. A vast host of spiritual beings is working for humankind to wake up and re-join the divine party. Presumably you and I are counted among them, and we get to be on the ground.
In a service on May 24, 1987, "The Morning Stars and the Sons of God," Martin Exeter spoke of what's actually required: "There is a need for what was represented by Noah before, but on a little different basis. Certainly it isn't a matter of building an ark in the sense of a boat. The earth apparently is reserved unto fire. Of course. Fire must burn up the rubbish. Even human beings with their very restricted vision are quite aware these days of the possibility of fire burning everything up. That's one way of getting rid of the rubbish. Our concern has been with a different kind of fire, the fire of love. On the one hand the fire of love could well be the thermonuclear one. On the other hand it could be a creative radiation, so that response to it may raise what responds to a level above the substance which is being consumed by the fire."
Would you say things are heating up? Global warming at many levels! Many of us sense the creative radiation of love intensifying well above and back of the field of usual human experience and earthbound events. Response to and attunement with this intensifying radiation of love raises "what responds [to it] to a level above the substance which is being consumed by the fire," as Martin said. Substance generated through passionate response to the spirit of God forms, builds, a living vibrational ark. This is the only place where life is safe, and it isn't a physical place.
Further in the same address of thirty years ago, Martin said, "There is something just wonderful occurring now. We don't always associate ourselves with that wonder. 'Ugh, I didn't think it was going to be this way!' Well it is whatever way it is in the realm of effects, but that's not where we belong. All this singing of the morning stars and the shouting for joy of the sons and daughters of God occurs in the realm of cause. Of course the singing of the morning stars is the means by which what is occurring in the realm of cause is conveyed into the realm of effects. It is a delightful, wonderful experience when it is done."
How conscious am I of the heavenly wonders occurring right now? We might each ask ourselves this.
A story comes to mind: In a dialogue training in the early 1990s, Bill Isaacs showed a videotape—it actually was tape then—of a psychological experiment involving a small group of people standing in a circle passing a basketball around. As we watched, Bill asked us to count the number of bounce passes we saw being made. We all eagerly focused attention on the assignment. After the tape concluded, Bill polled the group for our counts, and then asked how many of us saw the man in the gorilla costume walk through the scene at one point. I believe just a few in the group observed the distraction, but most of us got the number of passes correct.
Later, I read an article by a neuroscientist who helps the FBI solve complex crimes. In it, he identified what I'd learned from the missed gorilla experience as "inattentional blindness," a term coined by MIT researchers in the 1990s. It's defined as "a phenomenon in which a person does not see something in full view, and cannot recall it later, because at the moment, he or she is fixated or deeply concentrating on something else in the same field of vision."
Are we missing anything? Is there something in full view but not noticed? Any chance that our attention can sometimes be so captivated by what comes to our senses via various external media that we miss what's really going on? Maybe we're too enlightened for that to be the case, but it's something to think about.
If we're paying attention, we see wonder everywhere. Vladimir Nabokov, celebrated 20th century Russian-American novelist, wrote eloquently of an experience he had: "I became aware of the world's tenderness, the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me, the blissful bond between me and all of creation; and I realized that joy... breathed around me everywhere, in the speeding street sounds, in the hem of a comically lifted skirt, in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind, in the autumn clouds bloated with rain. I realized that the world does not represent a struggle at all, or a predaceous sequence of chance events, but the shimmering bliss, beneficent trepidation, a gift bestowed upon us..."
Let's not meet today's circumstances with fear or anger, nor with optimism or hope or what is religiously thought of as prayer. This is below-the-veil behavior. It accomplishes nothing of value. What is being disclosed, revealed, through the dissolving veil? That's where attention belongs! As my mind and heart are essentially resonant with the character of love, I've no need to hope for or against anything. I trust the real creative process. If my mind and heart are primarily aligned with the world of effects, then I'll be fearfully convinced of dire outcomes and filled with foreboding and anger. And I'll be on my way down. Which will it be? I choose to look up.
Anyone who can see there's a choice, can make the choice and live. What matters most? Where does my passion flow? To the disintegrating manmade world? Or through the joy that envelops it all to the One from whom all blessings flow?
We can learn a lot from Job.
Job is described in the Bible as a man "that feared God and eschewed evil." In this context "fear" means awe or reverence, of course—not the reactive feeling of distress or alarm prompted by perceived impending danger. And "eschew" means to abstain or keep away from. In Job's time the world was going to hell all around him—sound familiar? But he wasn't moved out of place by those horrific events. It was not easy by any means, but he held steady, and in the end, a new balance was restored.
A timeless lesson, there, for here and now.
Remember, we only see things in the light that we express.
How are things looking?
I'm sure none of us are callous about what people are experiencing all over. We care and help as we can, where we are. After all, they're our people and we're all connected.
And, we've an ark to sustain. Let's do it with passion, love, and joy.
What is there to be afraid of?
The Lord Himself when He was in form on Earth not long ago said, "...my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)
Radiant love presses fear down to a level below us and lifts our experience into wonder. The Lord's peace is with us and in us.
Let His joy flood the Earth.
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