Nature of Change
WINTER 2013 ~ LIVING AS BEINGS
What if the Mayans were predicting, not the end of the world, but an end to the way we live our lives?
I’ve long been awed by the number of people in the last fifty years who’ve been seeking a spiritual path and practice. Surely, this inner migration is amazing. Something has been drawing us beyond the confines of thought toward a new way of being. So when a friend’s New Year’s greeting began, “Happy New Era!” it seemed the Moment to say, “It’s Time.”
If we were to step up to that challenge, to take responsibility for entering the New Era in each moment and in each day, what would that look like? Might it lead toward a new way of being? To a new identity as Being? To speak from Being . . . listen from it . . . live from it? How could we establish ourselves in that new way of life?
What if in each moment, we simply practiced one thing: we came to rest in our own Presence—our own Divinity—and didn’t judge or resist what that moment offered? It would not be easy. But each time we dropped down into our bodies, fully Present to the moment, to ourselves, and to each other—that would be a true letting go. For that moment, the old would pass away. Perhaps, in time, we’d come to realize that we are indeed, Beings—that what had dawned in this New Era is a Living Light—and that Together, we are a Shining. We manifest it, unabashed and unashamed, and pour ourselves out: our lives, our gifts and our passions. Our Light.
Photograph by Anne Hillman
See more in “Taking Root: An Unbroken Intimacy with Life” in the Fall Kosmos Journal
2013 Three Upcoming Retreats:
Toronto area, April 19-21 An Unbroken Intimacy with Life, A Weekend Retreat
Filed under Alignment, Allurement, attention, Awakening, awareness, Balance, Change, compassion, Consciousness, Cosmic Creativity, Creativity, Inner peace, Instinct, Intimacy with Life, Intuition, living with contradictions, Love, Nature of Change, openheartedness, overcoming fear, presence, Surrender, Uncategorized, Whole-bodied attention by Anne Hillman
We live in a Time of great upheaval, challenged on all fronts by conflicts in our world, our political systems, our religions and often those most difficult to see, the conflicts within ourselves. When what we know doesn’t seem to be working, life can seem dark, and we may feel lost and even afraid.
Times of darkness are choice points. They press us as individuals and as a species to choose from one of two ways to proceed: we can either change ourselves, meaning change our constant orientation to our thoughts, or render ourselves extinct.
We have in us, have had bestowed on us, everything we need to respond to the Time in which we’ve been born. We just need to know where and how to look,where to put our attention. There is no room for creativity in minds chock full of old ideas and old views. Perhaps, instead, we might let ourselves be lost and not know. When we’re lost, we can do three simple things: Create a quiet moment, a clearing in the forest of our activities. Sit in the stillness without trying to figure anything out. Turn our attention to the simple movement of our breath and let the thoughts drain away. And in the spaciousness of not knowing, allow the New to unfold.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Blaise Pascal
www.annehillman.net Art by Joan Brady
WINTER LETTER 2011 ~ THE QUICKENING
Dear Friends, There is something in the air, a quickening, do you feel it? I find myself looking with amazement at the events we’re experiencing together on this planet, and at the same time, am aware of the fullness of life: not just days filled with activities, but days that are rich in the quality of interactions with others; the sudden political shifts in the Middle East; and the sheer majesty and power of nature’s wildness. A friend wrote: “I’m feeling a huge surge of conscious energy in the world in the last month or two. Do you? I felt it listening to a speech recently: that life was not about how much money, or power [or safety] we have, but how we have loved. More and more, I hear people expressing empathy, feeling greater compassion. . . It’s like an evolving that is almost palpable.”
Another wrote: “It’s like a convergence of time and place, a rhythm playing itself out. Still, people’s expectations can be quite different. Some may be afraid for the planet, for democracy, or for the world’s economy with good reason, but reason is not all. My imagination tells me that perhaps we’re thinking too small: that the confusion,even chaos, we may be inwardly experiencing holds the seeds of something very new and that we need to open ourselves to possibility, what has never happened before.
To sustain an essentially outward focus on the violent swings in politics, or economics, or the weather, is to miss the deeper movement, one that promises great creativity. For if we are aspects of the universe, we reflect its creative unfolding. Each new emergence in its long existence, galaxies and oceans; the evolution of living things; social changes like the black or women’s movements or the colliding forces in our world today, was born of a gathering energy: a current of creativity and destruction. To the degree that we can contain both dimensions of these fierce cosmological energies in ourselves, we will begin to shine like the sun. In any moment, we have a choice: either to fight the Current that is pulling us along or to ride it, to wait and wonder if what we’re experiencing is a creative opportunity awaiting us; to listen within for the leading edge of what most profoundly inspires usâ€”and attempt to reflect it in who we are and what we do.
Every time we honestly embrace both sides of an issue within ourselves instead of making another wrong, we cooperate with life’s painstaking work of testing and integrating new forms, in this case, the gradual shaping of the human mind. Each inner embrace adds more light to life’s deep need for it at this Time.
*Space (detail) from The Cosmological Powers of the Universe Series
Artist, Marci Graham
A majestic buck stands outside my studio window, taut, muscular, sniffing the air. The bucks come down from the hills to the fallow fields when the days turn cool, as precise a movement as the flock of geese swinging a compass high overhead. I find comfort in the returning cycles of sun and season. They offer balance when much of the old order I’ve taken for granted is in grave disrepair.
How to maintain balance when it seems that all we’ve relied on is unraveling? Along with many others, it is a question I ask myself. In a thoughtful letter, a reader from another country writes that in his profession, he counsels others to develop the capacity to bridge differences; that ‘seeing every point of view is an essential starting point.’ This man has made a lifelong effort to live according to his highest values, and despairs as he sees his country being vandalized by a government which has hijacked our democratic system and which shows no interest in the dialogue essential to maintaining it. He concludes: ‘I must confess, I have my work cut out for me when it comes to maintaining equanimity in the face of the ongoing savaging of this planet.’
This is the work. When all around us people are polarized by fear and anger, we need not lend energy to the battle. We can stand in the fires of social confusion and choose a more radical way: to take no enemies. A mind set against something is not conscious in the best sense of the word. It is operating at a more primitive level. Real consciousness requires us to live with an open heart, made fierce by anger and softened by the grief we feel for our own shortcomings and those of the world. Hearts filled with compassion know what it is to feel helpless before what Whitman called ‘life’s fierce enigmas.’ But I think when we’ve accepted the truth of our own profound vulnerability, we can begin to surrender the many ways we’ve tried to guarantee the outcomes we want, and learn to trust Life’s own unfolding, however uncertain it may be. It leads to a quiet mind, one that’s learned to how to hold all kinds of inner and outer contradictions and not expect to solve them. From this kind of consciousness, we can serve what we value most, and at the same time, refuse to be co-opted by the hostilities swirling about us. Perhaps then, we can work for the good of all together, and breathe new life into a suffering world.
We belong to life, and we can trust that life knows how to engage us creatively. Our work is to be present, to listen, and to step forward when it taps the potential deep within us. Then, whatever social, global, or environmental changes lie ahead, we will be participants in life’s creative unfolding and the gradual awakening of Love.
From Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time
The ground is saturated here in California. The small lake over the hill is brimming, and there’s an unmistakable scent of warm mud in the air. I know that smell in my bones: After every March thaw in New England, we’d put our lawn chairs on some bare ground between patches of snow and sunbathe. We knew it wouldn’t last: it would snow again in April. But the smell of mud held a promise of new life and we reveled in it. We lived our little bit of spring in the midst of winter.
Once in a while, we get a glimpse of something new half-seen in another person or an event, a promise of something that wants to be born. It signals a different take on things and a manner of living it fully. Even in the midst of discouragement and fear, all of us can develop skills that will lend energy and impetus to that kind of creative possibility.
It is very difficult to see the many kinds of suffering around us and to live with the infinite slowness of change. We want to solve these problems and get results. Much as we long for solutions, they don’t always happen on our watch. Then it’s easy to become disappointed, discouraged, and afraid. Fear is a powerful god. For some of us, the more natural response to fear is to recoil, give up, or get cynical. Others may be more likely to take sides and try to trounce the opposition. These old kinds of reactions, the winter we live in, are taking a huge toll on all of us. But there is a more creative way. The alternative, when things go very wrong, is learning to give our attention to two things at once: To focus directly on the pain (rather than denying, ignoring or repressing it), and at the same time, hold it in a much larger awareness than thought. This capacity to embody and live from a mind that is not divisive, but instead heals, is available to all of us. You can find several examples in Awakening the Energies of Love and The Dancing Animal Woman. Even as things fall apart, we need to hold the larger vision, together. We can hope to live spring in the midst of winter!
In these early days of December, as a soft rain falls in California, I remember the first snowfall in New England; how it blanketed the earth and muffled sound—and silence became a spacious and holy presence. As the winters progressed, however, and we shoveled snow and pulled soggy socks from our children’s feet, that dark stillness often brought depression. We forgot that it held promise, hid something deeper: new life gathering itself to be born. We live in a dark time. Many of us have sought to help solve some of the immense difficulties confronting us, to learn the truth of each situation, and to grow in understanding. We’ve taken stands on countless issues and made the best decisions we knew how. But we are beginning to see that the kinds of solutions our cultures have to offer are blunt instruments—and we begin to realize we need more refined means of resolving our dilemmas.
Even as conflicts escalate the world over, we can lend the weight of our presence to a different kind of action. We are learning that it is possible to integrate a more subtle form of activism with social action, and that one can flow quite naturally out of the other. We’re discovering in groups of all kinds around the world that our lives are deeply joined; that we can participate at a level of sensibility that is complementary to problem solving and does not seek to make one side right and the other wrong. Entire groups are awakening to this truth as they dare to take the position that they do not know the answer. Instead, they choose to embrace opposing views, give focused attention to the silence, and trust. Then a common voice may arise.
This week, the Indigenous Peoples of the World are gathering in Fort Collins and Carbondale, CO at the same time the UN Climate Change Conference takes place in Copenhagen, the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, and the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded President Obama in Oslo. In any group in which you have more than a casual membership, I invite you to set aside conversation for a short time, postpone closure in your own mind, and listen in the silence for something new. After all, it is that time of year, and as nature has always shown us, it is out of darkness that light is born again.