Thursday, November 21, 2019

Social Mercy

[My first draft of this post was about 20 pages long. I condensed it to two by adapting a short version from the preface to a poetry manuscript that I just finished for grad school. Consider this post a very basic introduction to Social Mercy. I'm writing on an e-book that expands the concept, and a program that includes practical life integration. To be notified about updates, join my email list.]

For that last two years I have been on an alchemical, poetic journey, which was so life-affirming and also, I must admit, life challenging. The Great Work is not for the faint of heart. The reality of transmuting the poison of life into art, means that one has poison lying around. Several times during the writing of Handshaking Instructions I thought I might be going mad. Looking back now, I see that I was, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity. For one cannot choose to descend into madness, one can only live one’s life, and hope they are so lucky as to slip on a banana peel.

What madness gave me would be unjust to sum up in a sentence. So here’s the lead up on it. Ana Unalov defines madness simply as an attempt to express unbearable pain. But first, madness begins with surprise or shock, when our guiding meaning or “ruling principle” as Jung calls it, crumbles. Losing the meaning we live in, personally or socially, could be triggered by a number of possible things—the failure of precautions, a mass shooting, loss of faith in industry or government, loss of belief in the stability of nature or of health, personal or collective tragedy (Unalov 7-24).

This breakup of reliable patterns causes disorientation, fear, and enormous pain. For many, the instinct is to look for the person or persons to blame. We tend to deposit the evil outside of ourselves and try to kill it there, in our neighbor, in another group or religion or country. Who is responsible for the world going to rot? Some blame the white supremacists, the president, the oil and gas industry, drugs, young people, organized religion, etc. We recruit others to our cause and if they will not, they must be part of the evil. 

I saw this in graduate school on some of the social justice panels, and it drove me crazy. I could see the flaw in thinking but hadn’t yet confronted my own flawed thinking. But that was just a matter of time. For those committed to a journey of consciousness, madness can become a terrifying and enlightening look at one’s own incapacity. It is terrifying because one must realize they are complicit in all the evils they abhor.

For me this looked like 18 months of stewing over other people’s flawed thinking and trying to write a poem or an essay titled “Social Mercy.” I said it was about Christ Consciousness, but its core was a reaction to the people I felt were wrong. The piece never came together, until one day I realized that I was engaged in the exact same thinking: that someone else’s behavior was the problem.

I didn’t need to write about social mercy, I needed to become social mercy. This meant I first had to accept my own lack of capacity—to love as Christ did, among other things. Only by giving all parts of me a seat at the table and honoring them as they were, was I able to allow them to transform. I mention this in two sentences, but this came only after a dark night of the soul. The follow up is that I can now accept the same lack of capacity in others with compassion rather than judgment. But of course, this work is ongoing. It takes daily forgiving, which is one aspect of mercy. 

In her book Love Without End, Glenda Green quotes Jesus:

“Practice forgiveness every day. It liberates the soul from bondage, and beyond that, forgiveness is an action which your mind can never understand. Your mind’s sole intent is to balance the books. In issues of morality it only wants to get even. Therefore, practice forgiveness everyday if only in trivial matters. This is an excellent way of tempering the mind and empowering the heart.” (Green 208)

But forgiveness is only one part of mercy. Justice requires debts be paid, and so mercy also is the capacity to pay the debt for another. When the debt is not quantifiable, like unkindness, abuse, or fatherlessness—the capacity needed is also difficult to quantify. A good place to start, however, is by increasing ones capacity in consciousness, kindness, deep listening, and seeing and then un-seeing another’s faults.

“Social Mercy” did not become a poem. It became my soul’s ambition, which may not mend everything ruptured in the world, but maybe social mercy plus good art and poetry can. In the non-magical world, big problems require big solutions and not surprisingly, create other big problems. What I learned from alchemy is that you are thinking magically when you are thinking small. What is the smallest possible action I can take that will have an impact? Sometimes pulling a single thread can unravel an entire web. The trick is knowing which thread. For me, one powerful action is writing and reading and sharing poetry. Though poems themselves don’t resolve life’s uncertainties, they can serve as a necessary reminder that we are not alone. They can translate some of the chaos into beauty and meaning, can help us see our humanity and live alongside each other. When I am writing my poem, I am doing no harm in the world. When I share one I love, I know it can transform people. Sometimes for a day, and sometimes a line can echo through years, like the repeating line in Adam Zagajewski's "Try to Praise the Mutilated World."    

That's all I will share for now. I look forward to putting all my thoughts and tools for integration into one place to share soon. Start with forgiving--yourself first if needed. And please forgive me for any imperfections in this writing and in myself as I attempt to live what I write and "fail a little better" each day. 
I love you. 

Translated by Clare Cavanaugh

Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

It's Time For Me To Start Blogging Again

I took a break from regular blogging three years ago so that I could do some other writing, and just because I felt done. Well, guess what, it's almost time for me to start blogging again. It can feel it coming, and it feels good. I feel clear that intuitive blogging is my seva (selfless service) and it also feels like it will be my joy again. Wahe guru!

Me in Ireland, looking over Killimore Castle. 

Why almost, and not today? Well, right now I am finishing my poetry manuscript and my graduate thesis. When that is sent off, I will be ready. Oh what fun it has been these three years and what I have learned.

I feel almost like a whole new person since that other time when I was blogging sometimes 2-3x week. I have reincarnated into my own life several times over the last three years and I would like to think I have much more to share and that I also have become a better writer.

So if you want to know when I post a new blog, subscribe or do whatever you do to get the notices. I sometimes post them on FB but not always, but you are welcome to post links there in your groups or wherever if you feel inspired to share any of my words. Who knows what they will be.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

What To Do About Jesus In the New Age

I want to share what I have learned from being in a new age spiritual community and also being a member of an organized religion in a cultural climate where God has become the G-word and Jesus is often associated with Piscean era patriarchy and fanaticism. The truth is, as we all know, lumping people into categories is easy but highly inaccurate. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also a kundalini yoga and meditation teacher in my community. For centuries these kinds of worlds had little crossover, but essentially, people in both were seeking the same thing. More light. More truth.

It’s not surprising the worlds are coming together in this new age with the world becoming so small and information so available. But there are still growing pains, especially for those who have a Jesus background and aren’t sure how to make the transition without throwing Him aside.

Communication is the trickiest thing in the world because most of us don’t really listen to what other people are saying but to what we think they are saying. I won’t go into all that right now. It’s a whole thousand hour course if it wants to be. It’s the course of our lives.

Here’s the gist of a pain point I hear a lot, from different sides. When people talk about great teachers like Mohammad and Buddha and Ghandi and they lump Jesus Christ in there as “one of the great teachers” a lot of Christians feel uncomfortable, at best. And from the other side—a lot of new age spiritual people like Jesus—they like him a lot—but feel like they have to like him secretly, or make sure to mention all the other cool guys out there too so no one feels left out or uncomfortable, or because they don’t want to be mistaken for some kind of person people can put into a neat little category.  

When you write about Christ-centered Kundalini Yoga, you get a lot of people confessing their secret love of Jesus to you. Some of them are turban wearing Sikhs. Some people were once raised religious in childhood and left it because of some pain, but they miss Jesus. Some grew up with no of religion but they have found Jesus or Mary or angels popping in all over in their lives, and they ask me a lot of questions about my experience with Him.

Some, like my husband, love Jesus and have thought of him as the savior, but have also studied world religions and seen so much amazing light in all and they don’t want to commit the Piscean error of tossing everything out that doesn’t fit the Christian mold.

He grappled with this a lot. Like me, he reads the Koran, the Bhagivad Gita, The Hebrew Bible, Buddhist texts, The Book of Mormon and just about any spiritual texts that we can get our hands on.

I personally have never had a hard time incorporating what I read to expand and deepen my faith in Christ. I have a special gift for it. But I realize that it is difficult for many people, so it has been interesting to watch his progression.

What he came to after studying all many religious is that all of them point to Christ, and none of these other great prophets ever claimed to be the Messiah or Christ. Buddha said that he was not the savior but that one would come and you would know him by his hands and his feet. Mohammad never claimed to be the savior. Muslim doctrine acknowledges that Jesus Christ was the son of God.

What we need to remember is religion has been through thousands of years under Piscean influence and also, there wasn’t much interaction between east and west during that time. Different religions have served different purposes in their particular place and culture and have prepared that part of the world for this future time—now—the Aquarian Age, where we are preparing to usher in the Age of Peace (1000 years of peace according to the yogis, and Christ’s 2nd coming and millennial reign according to the Church of Jesus Christ.)

So, just to reiterate what my husband realized it is that yes all those men and women were fabulous and none of them will be sad or jealous if we acknowledge Jesus Christ for being who he said he was and doing what he came to do, which they never claimed to be here for.

So if you want to know if Jesus matters, or if all these great teachers are saviors of men too in their own way—I would say: They are so awesome. But none of them ever said they were the one or that they were the way. I believe that the way, which Christ speaks of, is the way he did it—he achieved oneness with this Father and triumphed over death through prayer, study, fasting, years of deep meditation, cleansing and purification ordinances, things they called “the mysteries” (which we are learning now were actually secretly taught meditations and temple rites), and many other ways of being that we can emulate.

So can you be a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Sikh and follow Christ? I say Yes, why not? If you have questions that aren’t answered yet, just keep patiently searching and seeking.

My favorite commandment from Christ is this: “Follow me, and do the things ye have seen me do.”

If you are no religion do you need to go get baptized somewhere? That’s up to you and the power greater than yourself that I call God, but you just call whatever you feel comfortable. That power will guide you.

As a side note, I personally believe the word God incorporates the divine father and mother together so it is always both the woman and man. But everyone has their own relationships with the divine how they can. We don’t have the relationships we wish we had. We have the relationships we CAN with the knowledge and experience and skill and baggage we have at the time.  This is true for all our other work and our relationships as well. The spectrum of progression is vast and I have to trust that everyone is on their own path and journey and that God has them. Is holding us all exactly as we are, patiently loving us.  

Remember to be curious, calm, compassionate and content.

In Peace,

Nam Joti Kaur.