Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Sermon [Hitting Bottom]

¡Hola! Everybody...
have a choice, believe it or not, in deciding which direction we will move as a race of beings. Right now, you’re choosing and acting...

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-=[ Hitting Bottom ]=-

We live in a very dangerous time, but it is similar to the danger of childbirth. We are looking at the birth of a new consciousness. The dangers we face are part of this birthing process.

As an individual who has come to terms with addiction, I have some familiarity with both “hitting bottom” and a measure of awakening. Addiction is a progressive disease. It’s quite possible to go on cruise control for years while managing the outwardly appearance of social acceptability. For a long time I was able to do this. People close to me overlooked or even encouraged my “eccentricities.” But as long as I maintained the illusion of a “normal” life, my disease progressed.

At the core of the addictive mindset lies an ego-based, desire-based living. It leaves us with a painful sense of separation from others, a nagging sense that something missing, an experience of limitation, fear, and desire. Experiencing ourselves as small, we engage in a flurry of activity to avoid the objects of our fear and obtain the objects of our craving.

This is the dance of problem-based living and, although widely perceived as normal, it fuels an endless drama of struggle. On a personal level, it can manifest as a general anxiety, or a body image problem. On a community level, it can sabotage something as seemingly simple as a internet political forum. Globally, it is expressed as war, as economic and environmental madness. This force has been given many names. Simply put, it is ego-based living, or as I call it, the Mini Me.

Most addicts have to lose a lot, or “hit bottom,” before they begin to wake up. My personal bottom was extreme. I lost my self-respect, loved ones, opportunities, jobs, my health, and even my freedom, before I was able to address what had been happening for years. The irony about hitting bottom is that it is actually the beginning of a healing process. My darkest day, the day I lost all hope, a day of almost unimaginable despair, was a beginning. I look back at that day as a revelation and celebrate it every year. As a recovering addict, today I understand painful endings as a healthy sign, part of a necessary step toward transformative change.

I believe this is what’s happening to humanity. We’re in the death throes of a mindset that can no longer sustain life. The battle today isn’t so much about “left” vs. “right,” but about abandoning a paradigm that has outlived its purpose. As we continue to exhaust every possibility of ego-based, separation-based, desire-based living, we have no real option but to wake up and take an evolutionary leap. Those who are able see this process are weighted with the responsibility to tend compassionately to the death of the old ways, and to serve as a midwife to the emergence of a new human being.

Some see declining purchasing power as “weakened consumer confidence,” which feeds into the collective anxiety of the Mini Me. Others, thinking outside of the old paradigm, see the same trend as an indication that we are growing out of our addictions. The most recent economic meltdown in 2009 was seen as a setback to the multinational conglomerates that caused it. However, looked at from another perspective, it could have very well been a victory for the start a sane society. At the very least, it exposed the fallacy of the “free market” as a solution for all of society’s ills.

Everything looks different when we drop the fear-based thinking and stop resisting death and rebirth.

Now (and here’s the crux), once the mindset is identified, we often want to pin it on a person or movement, and then comes the compulsion to eliminate them, in the false hope of ending our troubles. For example, in Russia, first the Czar and their associates were seen as the problem and they were eliminated. But after a few decades, a corruption of Communism was no better, and they were, in turn, also eliminated. Since 1991, the party has been gone from power but the Russian people are no better off under a capitalist system (and in many ways worse off).

My spiritual practice emphasizes tolerance and compassion, but I have to confess that the right, as personified by Bush, Palin, Limbaugh, and the rest, are a huge challenge for me. The temptation to cast them as the core of the problem is sometimes overwhelming. And let’s be real: the right today embodies to a large degree the old Mini Me paradigm I describe. Their foreign policy is defined and driven by separation, by an us-versus-them mentality. Their social policy decisions come from a hardcore fundamentalism rather than an open-minded inquiry. They have succeeded in polarizing this country to the point of entropy, in the process defining blind loyalty as patriotism, advocating for the erosion of civil liberties as a means to deal with dissent. The wealth gap between the powerful few and the majority has widened dramatically under their policies, which have been strong on “conservative,” but pathetic on “compassionate.” And, of course, there is the ideological and economically motivated global violence sold to a gullible populace through distortions and lies.

There’s a lot not to like about the right these days...

I see the right as symptomatic of the old ways of living. It is living motivated by a sense of lack and fear. I disagree with everything they stand for, so how can I find even a smidgen of tolerance or compassion for their way of thinking? For example, how do I reconcile the response of a suburban housewife, who will gladly cede liberty for the illusion of security? I could chalk neoconservative policies up to stupidity (“dumb twats”), selfishness, the pathological need for control, or the lust for power. And I’m sure the Cheney’s, the Bush’s and Palins of the world are guilty as charged.

But if someone, succumbing to the myth of scarcity, really believes there isn’t enough to go around then I could understand how someone would see it as responsible and even noble to horde as much as you can for you and yours, whomever you consider that to be. You have to have more than you need and protect those that “belong” from ever being left out.

You’ll do anything to others, including bomb their land, rape their women and children, and plunder their resources, to provide for those you see as “us.” The right has blinded itself from the consequences of their actions (“drill baby drill!”) and it is important to reveal what they’re doing. I think what they’re doing is wrong. They're thinking stands in contrast to everything I believe in. But if I make them into an enemy, and become an adversary to them, then I am doing the same as they are doing.

I am a grateful addict for many reasons, one being that I know we free ourselves from the grip of the Mini Me by seeing its roots in ourselves and in all of us. When we can finally see the roots of fear-based and separation-based living within, and we wake up from them, not only do we free ourselves, but we elect liberated leaders.



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