Returning from an amazingly rich, full, social trip to Europe I found myself precipitated into a state of inertia and uncertainty that on the surface made no sense. It was only when I felt drawn to review some of my journal reflections that I realized I had been in the same space before left. It reminded me of hiking the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand, one moment I was confidently striking out behind my guide over the uneven, rutted, dirty ice then I stopped, paralysis set in, I was unable to take another step. I was not sure how to restart. I realize now I was struggling with my perspective on the world as a whole compared with my own individual journey. This had created dissonance that while unresolved prevented me from moving forward
We are not beings that live well with dissonance. In fact we need to find a way of dealing with it when it shows up because cognitive dissonance can damage our peace of mind and sometimes affect our bodies. My own had led to inertia and uncertainty; I realized it was time to explore and hopefully resolve. The words of Galadriel (Cate Blanchette), articulated at the beginning of Lord of the Rings, entered my head, “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost, for none now live who remember it.” I am feeling the same way about the planet that we live on. There is so much unresolved: there is a gradual destruction of the environment; financial turmoil governed by avarice with no change in sight; a growth model that cannot be sustained but everyone pretends it can; wars and riots, natural disasters; the shift of wealth from the have-nots to the haves, the refusal by governments in the US and Canada to admit that there is a relationship between crime, drugs and social inequity; the unanswered questions about nine/eleven; in so much of the world order continues to collapse into chaos; there is starvation and human misery with no solution in sight; it difficult to sustain hope. The world seems to teeter on the brink of another dark age.
Yet my own life is predicated on beliefs that are inconsistent with this situation. I live a life based on chaos emerging out of order. I am committed to the concept of the immortality of the soul, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. In my life intention helps to form reality, consciousness is trying to evolve, guidance from the higher-self is continually supporting my journey, love will eventually overcome hate, synchronicity, dreams and serendipity play a key role in the unfolding journey of the soul and we can all make a difference by doing the work we came here to do and finding meaning in our own experience.
No wonder I am feeling dissonance; it is as though there are two separate planets. Am I living in a Pollyanna world that is totally disconnected from reality? I had temporarily escaped by traveling, but what I left behind is waiting for me. I glance through my Soul Journal and observe some words I wrote in July. I had been musing that my current sense of the Divine was being challenged and recalled a question an amazing minister in the Unity church Marvin Anderson had asked, “Is it time to review your God concept?” Then there are a series of quotes from teachers far wiser than I. Tukaram, an Indian spiritual poet from the sixteen hundreds, “Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not change especially all your ideas about God”. Tillich, a German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher, “Look for the face of God behind the God image that has just disappeared”. Kirkegard, a Danish Christian philosopher and theologian “The God which can be named is not God” and finally James Hollis, eminent Jungian analyst and psychologist, “We find our God in that which enlivens the soul.”
Inspiring as these quotes were, I was not sure about the relevance or how to apply them to my current confusion. My previous coping technique was to attribute this dissonance to ‘The Mystery” but this seemed to no longer sustain me. Coincidentally the next step lay on another quote I had recorded just before I left on my travels. It was the title of a workshop by James Hollis that I had attended in May. It is from Emily Dickenson, “The sailor cannot see the north but knows the needle can.” Hollis had reminded us to trust our own inner wisdom; it seemed like a moment of surrender; I would trust that if I asked for help it would come so I set the intention “show me the way.” and let it go.
The response when it arrived came in three pieces. The first came from an unexpected source: I was following a link on Facebook and it led indirectly to a commencement speech by Steve Jobs given in 2005 in which he simply stated that “you can only connect the dots backwards”. This simple insight helped me see that part of my confusion was because I was trying to join them forwards and it wasn’t working. (I expanded this in something I wrote earlier see http://wp.me/phAyS-fP) The second occurred while listening to an audio book Through the Dark Wood by James Hollis while driving to my place on Cortes to get it ready for the next guests. He quoted Socrates who had tried to prove the immortality of the soul and said, “I will order my life as though immortality were a fact. Should there be none… I still do not regret my choice.” I realized that I was prepared to follow this perspective. The final piece transpired when I went to a lecture at Hollyhock by Rick Hansen, a neuro-psychologist who told the story of the two wolves that descends from a native legend of a Native American elder who was asked how she had become so wise, so happy, and so respected. She answered: “In my heart, there are two wolves: a wolf of love and a wolf of hate. It all depends on which one I feed each day.” The good news that Hansen went on to share with us is that our higher brain has evolved to recognize the gifts of social connections and loving, supportive behaviour. The bad news is that the wolf of hate is fed by our lower brain instincts, fear and protection of self allowed all our early ancestors to survive. The result is that hate and fear are powerful emotional triggers that we have to learn to overcome. For more see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hanson-phd/aggression-evolution_b_862710.html) His theme was hope; we can evolve to a higher state and love can overcome.
In a strange mystical way that I have never understood, these three insights helped establish a renewed foundation for my life. It was as though the power came back on. My choice is to support the process of conscious evolution by doing what I can and supporting others to do the same. I choose to feed the wolf of love. The definition of the word mystery is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown however throwing some light on the mystery has helped me resolve the dissonance I was feeling. One last thought was engaging once more with the wisdom of Rumi. I come back to his poems over and over and get something knew each time.
“Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.”