Two weeks ago I co-led a workshop which was part of the Transition Towns initiative here in Kilkenny, it enabled 15 people to give voice to and find meaning in the deep despair that they felt about the current state of our world. It was a heartfelt and deeply moving experience for all concerned. Suffering, powerlessness, rage, grief and fear were all expressed, heard and honoured. Parents expressed fears for the future of their children. The fate of the polar bear and nature were mourned. Patriarchal values and the suppression of the feminine evoked tears, and sadness and anger were strongly present. All felt the power of expression and the letting go of deep pain. The group then danced and rested in the present moment with the understanding that pain too can be transformed.
Choegyal Trungpa, a Tibetan spiritual teacher noted in the 1960’s “The whole world is filling with suffering.” The truth is that since then it seems to have gone from bad to worse. Recession, climate change and so on, the list of current woes seems endless.
So what can we learn and how can we respond wisely to this sense of suffering, and current doom and gloom?
For the last twelve centuries the Tibetans have had knowledge of semi-secret prophesies attributed to Padmasambhava about the coming of the Kingdom of Shambhala. I think it is worth reading carefully what Trungpa says about the core of this prophesy and how it can help us live in today’s troubled times:
“There comes a time when all life on earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have risen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste to the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always, they move in the lands of the barbarians themselves.
Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors know they can do this because the weapons are manomaya, mind made. This is important to remember. These weapons are made by the human mind. So they can be unmade by mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on Earth do not come from evil deities or extra terrestrials. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now the Shambhala warriors must go into training. They train in the use of two weapons. Compassion and Insight. Both are necessary. We need the first one because it provides the fuel, it moves us to act on behalf of other beings. But by itself it can burn us out. So we need the second as well, which is insight into the dependent co-arising of all things. It lets us see that the battle is not between good people and bad people, for the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. We realize that we are interconnected, as in a web, and that each act with pure motivation affects the entire web, bringing consequences that we cannot measure or even see.
Insight alone can seem too cool to keep us going. So we also need the heat of compassion, our openness to the world’s pain. Both weapons are necessary to the Shambhala warrior.” Trungpa
We are currently witnessing massive global upheavals. The deaths of the great institutions that are crumbling politically, financially and philosophically can create great opportunities for positive re-evaluation of values and morals, equity and balance if viewed wisely. Lives will get more difficult before we see positive results, but I believe good will come. I believe great good is being birthed and like many births, will be unbearably painful if resisted. Compassion and Insight will help us all with these difficult challenging times of transition.
If we wish to help at this time, we all have to make our personal journey and it is up to each of us to find the meaning of enlightened society and how it can be realised.
Shambhala warriors know that there is a basic human wisdom that can help solve the world’s problems. A human wisdom, nothing to do with education, religion or culture, and it is freely available to each of us. If we attune ourselves and listen with our hearts, spiritual guidance is available to us all. This, I believe, is now a matter of urgency!
Nelson Mandela stated, ” There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others will not feel uncomfortable around you! You were born to manifest the glory of Spirit, it is not just in some people it is in all of us!”
Each of us can make a difference. Two marks of warrior-ship are bravery and fearlessness. Do not be afraid of who you really are and let your unique light shine!
Shine! Step out of that which limits you! Know that all the huge changes that are happening in our world are part of a higher purpose and spiritual evolution. If each of us can bring balance to our own lives and work from a place of love, changes at an energetic vibrational level will occur. Every one of our thoughts, words and deeds can make a difference. So, can we change the world? Barak Obama’s mantra is, “Yes we can!” That’s my mantra too and it’s why I am not buying into the media hype that the future looks bleak. The future is bright depending on the way you choose to view it! I look forward 2009.