“A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings.” Denzel Washington. It is not possible to create perfect systems. We can simply aim for better. And given that our systems and institutions will inevitably fail us sometimes, it…
Our time spent online is increasingly being eaten by forces that care naught for our authentic selves. The web is mostly a world of projection and drama, where hyperbole, fear and catastrophic narratives are pumped into us, such that our consciousness can be fed into their machines. Much of the internet is the imaginal gone wrong. The more we bury ourselves in that, the more lost, angry and alienated we become; because we have unwittingly betrayed our authentic selves. Because we have betrayed our own spirit.
Learning to listen to the heart may take a lifetime. Even longer. Or just a moment.
Integrated intelligence is a fuzzy human cognitive skillset which can be developed with practice. It is also my belief that such human cognition will eventually flourish in societies and learning environments that are open to its expression. The problem is, our current science and establishment institutions are either ignorant of integrated intelligence, or are simply hostile to it.
Those beginning a meditative or mindfulness practice often have a false expectation that they are about to become magically transformed into an awakened being, or perhaps even enter an exalted higher state of consciousness. Perhaps they might be thinking that they can tolerate a few weeks of mindless meditation, a few hours of dull, cross-legged sitting, or even staring at candles in the evening, if that means accessing the Bliss of Being. The petty inconveniences of modern life will all be forgotten once the divine light descends from the heavens, rendering us impervious to pesky feelings and inconvenient negative emotions like anger, sadness and fear… Alas, such people will be disappointed.
Mindfulness is often most potent when combined with other practices. We shouldn’t employ mindfulness in our lives, naively assuming it is the most powerful problem-solving tool ever invented, while excluding other practical and useful methods and behaviors.
This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.
The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments. The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.
Yet the spirits of the ancestors move within us still; nervous, foraging ghosts with hungry bellies, scanning incessantly for sustenance, water and predators upon the African savannah. Despite our increasingly protected, controlled lives, we humans of the 21st century remain prone to the whims of our biology. And perhaps to mind fields that connect us beyond space and time to the trauma of past lives lived and ultimately lost by our desperate forebears, now long returned to the dust from which their physicality arose.
In the end, integrating the shadow and the darkness (and embracing the Light) is mostly about being present to both, and having the courage to stay present rather than running. Yet to do that you have to allow a deeper awareness of both your own dark projections, and of the repressed pain that is almost always associated with them. And that is rarely simple or easy work.
Most of my friends are liberals. I adhere nether to modern liberalism, nor to conservatism, but I am attracted to the spirit of liberalism (You will find out what I mean by that as you read on). Much of what passes for liberalism in the modern world is actually conservatism dressed up as the former. There is an inherent degree of intolerance and bigotry which is commonly being expressed. The liberal true ideal is typified by love, acceptance, compassion, equality, generosity and peace. It is no coincidence that these are also associated with the higher stages of consciousness evolution. Of awakening, or enlightenment, if you prefer.