On Waking Spirals, Gary Rosenberg’s posts recently have been exploring questions about how to balance spirituality and compassionate action, positive thinking and knowing what’s wrong so that you can help. This is territory to which I return often in my journey. I keep coming back to the same answers for myself – I don’t claim to have the answers for anyone else. I’ve appreciated that his posts are causing me to think it through again.
I was a hippie a long time ago—well really I still am in many ways—and became politicized and radicalized by the Viet Nam War. Over the next couple of decades I marched for solar power and against apartheid, spent my short-lived legal career as an anti-nuke lawyer, volunteered at environmental organizations; well, you get the picture. Activism and me, bff’s.
Before I even started exploring spirituality I started observing that often my activist friends seemed to be very good at working on behalf of the faceless masses but weren’t all that nice to the people in front of them. And then, as I listened to conversations in which they mapped out the best solutions for people in far away places I marveled that they felt they knew what these people needed without ever asking them. They seemed startled that I even questioned it and the attitude seemed to be “of course we know the right thing to do.”
Soon I was meditating and searching and I drifted away from the activist scene. But wars and violence and injustice kept on happening and I began to struggle with how to fit my new spiritual viewpoint with the liberal/left, let’s get in there and fix it attitude that automatically arose. For quite a while I convinced myself that the righteous sense of righting wrongs went hand in hand with being spiritual—of course you’d fight for the downtrodden, etc.
But as I wound my way into Buddhism and vipassana I became more uneasy about how that balance could work. In the lead-up to the Iraq War several things came together to really change my view. One was the degree of vitriol in the many e-mails I received from various groups to which I belonged that purportedly aspired to peace. Words of battle, fury at anyone who disagreed, they felt like they breathed hatred and bitterness into my being as I read them. I questioned how all that anger could help. I questioned how I could imagine that I know from my human vantage point exactly what is right and what is wrong. And, even assuming that I know how God would define what’s right, how can I presume to define solutions for others?
My intuition started nudging me to the lovingkindness chant*. I’ve written a longer post about this elsewhere but to make it short, several weeks of chanting for President Bush and Sadam Hussein, et al., shifted me into a different space. I could feel their hearts and sense our connection. Suddenly the idea of the web of all life meant much more to me.
Around the same time, I read David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force. His theories about the scale of energy that exists among humans and the power of those who have achieved high levels of energy being able to balance thousands or tens of thousands of others (depending on the level of energy) helped me to see the web, or oneness, in the light of what space each of us holds within it.
If you clear yourself of anger and bitterness and raise your vibrational level to 500 or more** you can hold a space of peace strong enough to be a counterbalance to as many as a million people (again depending on how high the level). So enough people who even get to 540 (his level of “joy”) could tip the balance of the whole world to a higher energy. And if there are too many people living in anger and recrimination and battles and struggles relative to those who counterbalance, then the world descends into more chaos and hatred.
I believe that everything is energy and that in spite of all our evidence that we exist as separate beings, the reality of us is that we are all one. We are all part of the same web of energy that is all life. Because of that I believe that the most important work anyone can do to create peace and justice is to do everything possible to raise their own vibration, to learn to be peace. So for me, that’s the journey. Find my way back to seeing that any thought that separates the world into a “me” and a “them” is an illusion because we are ONE. I like action like Buddhist’s who sit and meditate in the midst of protest. But I haven’t really figured out if there’s more that works for me. I’m not peace yet, so I figure that’s my work for now.
*The version I use: “may I be filled with lovingkindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”. I often make it an affirmation “I am filled…”
** I accept that his theory is true, I’m more skeptical as to whether his precise scale will someday be proven correct. But I do believe there is a scale of energy.