The Age that Seems Like Hell on Earth
It is awfully hard to tell or to put forward the view that this country (as well as the whole world) is going through a spiritual initiation. Since World War I, really. But, the bottom here fell out in 2001 with the fall of the World Trade Center. By 2004, the Iraq war was raging. In December, 2004, the greatest earthquake in over forty years struck near Sumatra, resulting in the tsunami that killed over 266,000 people. Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. The great financial crisis of 2007-2008 then hit. In January 2010, a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, and geologists said it was the worst seen in over 200 years. In April, 2010, The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, creating the greatest ecological disaster in human history. During this time, the European Union started collapsing. There have been massive floods and forest fires and the melting of the icebergs, possibly resulting in a tilting of the Earth’s axis. World temperatures continue to rise. We are now in the time of the corona virus, economic meltdown and social upheavals. Let’s relate all of this to the last post on consumerism.
The very recent events of massive demonstrations due to the brutal killing of George Floyd by police brutality resulted in the boarding up of Manhattan. Every luxury store as well as other stores are closed – Sax Fifth Avenue, Harry Winston Jewelry, AT&T, Armani, Dolce and Gabanna, St. Regis Hotel, Christian Dior, Tiffany & Co., Rolex – to name but a few – all of Manhattan is affected. Similar boarding up of stores has also occurred in Chicago, Beverly Hills, Philadelphia, Portland, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Bethesda, Las Vegas, and many other cities.
In the absence of spiritual sensibility, all of this looks and feels like --- hard times, but it will end – sometime. Seen and felt with spiritual sensibility, we are in a time of deathing-rebirthing. The recent boarding up of luxury places of consumerism, are a visible expression of the necessary separation from living as if we are here for our own sake and desires. These images of the consumer world going ‘blank’ are the world equivalent of the needed process of developing a spiritual, inner life. In its individual form, spiritual awakening begins with removing what is familiar and all that we identify with by stopping thinking, by going blank, by “boarding up”. This is the very first step in spiritual awakening and spiritual initiation – of a certain type – the way of Surrender – not surrender as ‘giving up’, but by voluntarily giving self.
Also, more, is going on than needed social change. These social changes, too, are aspects of the spiritual awakening of America. America’s spiritual destiny is trying to get back on its path – the place where “A New Heaven and a New Earth” can be visibly seen unfolding, a intense prototypal image of the world awakening to its spiritual destiny.
Spiritual initiation, however, does not happen on its own. A decision is needed – and even then, spiritual awakening is not assured. What is the needed decision, based on noticing a persistent inner feeling? The decision to love being fully here, for “here” is already the fullness of Heaven and Earth. To experience the truth of reality, to feel it, and begin living into this way, requires awakening the humanness of being human as centered in the longing for the Divine for the sake of the Divine and not for anything else, and that this longing begins to awaken through the will of self-giving rather than self-defense. The removal of all we identify ourselves with is the invitation, to be responded to freely, not out of fear, not out of trying to get something out of longing for the Divine.
“If we can remember the true essence of mind while in the midst of great conflict such as while we are running from a pack of vicious dogs, we will gain a much greater level of insight than in normal meditation practice."
---- "Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche