Eckhart Tolle once said, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you have chosen it. Always work with it, not against. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.” Byron Katie says, “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.” And finally, Eben Alexander, the author of Proof of Heaven, was in a seven-day coma from spinal meningitis and the moment he woke up from the coma he said, “All is well.”
Do these people live in a different world than we do? How can they say all is well, or everything happens for you not to you, or accept what is happening as if you have chosen it? Maybe, just maybe, they are speaking the truth. In order to open to this truth, the first thing to know is that your mind will never agree to this. For heaven’s sake, we have recently experienced devastating floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, mass shootings and fires. To most people’s minds, it looks like insanity to even contemplate what these people are offering – to move beyond resisting and struggling with all these challenges and to use them instead for your awakening out of the world of struggle.
How do you begin to shift your perception from struggling with life to actually being present for it? Imagine what it would be like to see that all these major challenges (including the ones in your personal life) as invitations to discover a new way to be with life. The old way of struggling with your life is what you have been conditioned to do. Your mind likes ‘this’ but doesn’t like ‘that.’ It thinks ‘this’ is right and ‘that’ is wrong; ‘this’ is good and ‘that’ is bad. It says at one moment you should have an ice cream cone and then five minutes later it starts struggling with your choice and tells you that you shouldn’t have done that! Ask yourself, has struggling with what is ever brought you that lasting healing you long for?
There is another way to be with all that life brings. This way respects and trusts the intelligence of Life. Or as Eckhart Tolle says, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” Let’s look at what it would be like if you began to trust whatever life is bringing to you. With a tiny bit of respect for the intelligence of life, you would be a lot less interested in struggling, with even the little things in life, like an ice cream cone. Instead, you would become interested, curious, fascinated about this moment and your reaction to it. And rather than reacting, you would find yourself responding with insight and heartfulness. That is where true and lasting healing happens – not from trying to fix, judge, react, get rid of or rise above the challenges of your life. It comes from getting to know what you struggle with so that you can be present for what life is offering you at any given moment.
You can learn how to do this with the little challenges of your life like being late to work, or a sliver in your finger that stops you from typing, or an upset stomach. Rather than being lost in reaction, you can respond, being with yourself when you most need yourself. But how do you do this with the big challenges – the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea; the pulling out of the climate accord even though the permafrost in Alaska is melting at an alarming rate; not knowing when a mass shooter may show up?
In order to be not caught in fear, it is important to put what is happening in context or what I call a bigger perspective. And we can do that with the evolutionary biologist Elizabeth Sahtouris’s version of the butterfly story. The caterpillar is a very destructive animal relative to its size. At some point it goes into a cocoon and the caterpillar turns into goo. Out of the goo come what the biologists call imaginal cells, the first expression of the butterfly. The goo always kills this first wave of imaginal cells causing these new cells to gather and then the urge of the new is stronger than the destruction of the old and what appears is a butterfly.
Now let us relate this to what is happening on our planet. Before you can discover how not to tighten and react around all the chaos that is happening, you need to remember that you are part of an evolving process. At one time our earth was gas and dust and it has been through many shifts that have brought it to where it is right now. In every single shift, as the next phase in life on this planet began to show up, the old battled the new.
Just because human beings have shown up in this constantly evolving process, it doesn’t mean that evolution has stopped. It is still unfolding right now as you are reading this. I believe that we are in one of those major evolutionary shifts now, and for the first time, this shift is happening in the human mind. The old kind of mind that has caused so much war and heartache on this planet – the kind of mind that judges, reacts, and lives in ‘them and us’, that builds walls rather than bridges – seems to be getting stronger just like in the butterfly story when the goo kills the first wave of imaginal cells. You can see the old mind in terrorism, in fear of immigration, in bullying on the internet, in fake news. You can see the old kind of mind so clearly in what is happening right now in politics – judgment, meanness, positioning, the belief that “I am right” and “you are wrong” so that there is no communication or compromise.
But at this time of chaos, a new kind of mind is making itself known. This is the kind of mind that includes rather than excludes, that meets with compassion rather than judgment, that unites rather than divides. We can see it in the responses to the hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. As one person said about the response to the flood victims in Houston, “It didn’t matter what your politics were, your sexuality or even the color of your skin. People just wanted to help people.” If you take your eyes off the news that is flooding our world, you can see this new kind of mind everywhere – people truly caring and taking care of their fellow human beings.
Because you are reading this, you are a part of that awakening of the new mind. Can you notice without judgment the old kind of mind as it shows up inside of you? Can you see how much you react to yourself, to your workmates, to your family? Can you notice how much you are addicted to struggle about little things as well as big things? When you respond rather than react, moments such as these matter – moments when you lead with your aware heart; moments when you truly see that we’re all in this together, floating on a tiny jewel of a planet, dancing through vast oceans of space; moments when you notice you are caught in ‘them and us’ (watch how you think of politicians); or moments when you notice yourself putting someone or some group out of your heart. And instead of following the reactions in your mind, you unhook from them and respond instead.
You may say that this is not enough. There is so much chaos, meanness, divisiveness, violence and heartache happening all over our planet. But every moment of responding rather than reacting matters. Every moment you don’t follow the fear based stories that can go all the way from being a little anxious to seeing this as the end of the world and instead come back to the cellular trust that the people in the beginning of this blog are talking about, you become an ‘imaginal cell’ for humanity.
Just as the oceans are made up of drops of water, this new mind that is connected to our hearts shows up a moment here and a moment there, and these moments accumulate. Are you willing to be a part of the new mind, a part of the healing that is showing up? If so, for just this moment let go of reading and your stories about life and be as fully here as you can be in this moment. See it, hear it, feel it! The more you are here, the more your heart opens naturally, and you become a part of this evolutionary shift into the new mind that is connected to the aware heart.