New Year’s Letter: The Opportunity of a World Gone Mad
The Opportunity of a World Gone Mad (In many meanings of the word)
The Oxford Dictionary has chosen a word as its 2016 Word of the Year: post-truth. For those who don’t follow such goings-on, post-truth is defined as: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
In the United States, the President-elect and his team are the quintessential, conscious, purposeful purveyors of this new thought-form. And they are leading a worldwide movement. In this new reality, as they would have it, the big boss can say whatever he wants about whatever he wants; can deny, without offering counter-evidence, the “alleged” facts presented from sources outside his circle that contradict his assertions. They then expect, with good and mounting evidence, that a large number of people will believe whatever he says, relegating the contradicting facts to being lies by definition, because they contradict him.
And he has surrogates now declaring on TV, the “fact” that this is because we now live in a post-truth world. He and they are the ones defining reality, because reality is malleable and can be manipulated by whoever has the biggest following on Twitter. The rest of us who actually still hold to the idea that there are such things as truth and lies and facts are just so last week. We are the losers in the new world where there is only one important distinction, one dichotomy: winners and losers.
In post-truth philosophy, all reality is just perception. And since, given that the “winners” have no inconvenient scruples to get in their way, they are better at the manipulation of perception than the rest of us who stand shocked, in horror, at what is and likely will be done in our name. It is a well-known aphorism that history is written by the victors. Now moment-to-moment reality is being defined by the “winners”.
Post-truthism declares that facts and opinion is the same thing. The reality, or not, of climate change is an opinion, not a universally accepted fact by 100% of objective scientists and anyone who doesn’t live in a climate-controlled skyscraper, or have an ideology and/or financial stake that demands denial of whatever contradicts that self-serving belief system. Since everyone lies all the time anyway, truth is just whatever you choose to believe.
And here’s the thing. They’re not completely wrong.
Stick with me, here.
My work—professional and personal—has, for the last 40 years, involved the observing and charting, with the aim of both understanding and helping to heal, the energetic anatomy and physiology of the construction and functioning of the bodies we all—whatever our distinctions and differences– inhabit. What follows is what I have seen with my gradually opening eyes and learned by the observation of thousands of people. (If you want to know more about this view, I wrote a whole book about it called Gift of the Body. For the purposes of this essay, you’ll just have to trust that at least I am completely clear that what I’m saying is true.)
- Beliefs and opinions are not the same thing. Opinions are likes and dislikes: what makes us comfortable, what we prefer, what matches or insults our underlying sensibilities. Beliefs are more fundamental; they define those underlying sensibilities. A belief tells me how reality is defined by me. Most belief systems however, have as part of their make-up the firm notion that my beliefs ARE reality. The underlying fuel for this attachment to being right is the assignment of belief as identity. We think we are our beliefs, not that we have Understanding the distinction is paramount.A belief tells me how it is; an opinion tells me how I want that reality to be demonstrated. Belief creates the texture, the ambiance of my world; opinion fills in the details. Opinion serves belief. Belief is the slingshot; opinion is the stone. Belief is the General; opinion is the Colonel. Most opinion also carries with it shadings of judgment and criticism, because almost all opinions eventually run up against other people’s opinions that are different than one’s own. And since my general belief is that all of my beliefs are real and necessary and must be upheld at the cost of a shattering of my identity, my opinions must be preserved as the first line of defense. Hence wars in many venues, actual and virtual.
But by looking through the goggles of energy anatomy and spiritual reality…
- Both opinion and belief are, simply and literally, filters, prisms imbedded in our energy bodies through which reality outside us—and in fact also inside us—is interpreted. Seen as configurations of coalesced energy, one belief or opinion is not more real than any other. (I submit that essentially all reality is energy in its various coalescences.) Belief and opinion are the filtering mechanisms through which we navigate and interpret our life on earth. They are the sail, but they are not the wind or the boat. One sail might be more efficient than another, more popular than another, sail the course quicker. But a sail is a sail is a sail.
Here’s a deeper explanation of where I’m coming from.
Through my own multi-leveled lens, formed and re-formed over 40 years of training, observation and both internal and external healing work, I am presently most interested in understanding what all humans share, regardless of the particular variations among us. There is plenty of division, judgment, condemnation of the “other”, in the general human field without my drop of negativity adding to its trajectory towards overflowing. We all inhabit divinely, meticulously and ingeniously constructed vehicles that we call our bodies. And those bodies are not simply physical creations. They are fundamentally energetic constructs with multiple layers of energy anatomy and physiological functioning, from physical to spiritual. We can all agree on that.
Here’s where what I see might be a challenge to you. What I know is that all of the characteristics that you and I are used to thinking of and identifying as “me”, are really just condensed energy blobs—what I call thought-forms—that literally live in discrete locations in our auras, or our Human Energy Vehicle (HEV). Your relationship to, and your identifying with, the sum total of these specifically arrayed thought-forms have become defined in your consciousness as “me”. But on the deepest levels of who you and I really are, that definition of “me” is no more who we are than the sets of clothes we are wearing. All true spiritual practices have as their goal the experience and knowledge of the true self underneath the false images, thoughts and beliefs that we carry. I’m taking that quest out of the theoretical and philosophical realms into the actual and doable ones. I’m telling you where those images and beliefs live, that’s all. In a minute I’m going to tell you some of what you can do with them.
What you are used to thinking of as “me” is a multi-layered egg of different energetic densities. It is not “you”. It is a vehicle—a rental, in fact—that was designed expressly for your true self’s experience here on this planet and in this dimension. To do that job of being an incarnate human, you agreed to become a semi-blind amnesiac, but with the caveat of being afforded the possibility, at this very moment, of learning to see and remember.
Your vehicle is a mini-planet with layers of atmosphere. One of the rings of your body-planet is called the mental body. This layer of your vehicle serves as the protective layer and defining boundary of your little world-self. Within this mental body are denser areas that act like little broadcast stations, sending out the textures and sounds of beliefs and opinions to our brains to be then turned into words, attitudes and internal policy in our little world as it spins in the solar system of our planet. We organize these beliefs and opinions into a big belief and then go about projecting that into the greater energetic field that we call “the world”. We call this semi-coherent mash-up of beliefs and opinions our “world-view”. In reality, it is our internal movie, of which we are producer and star, projected on the movie screen of the world. We each call our private movie, “Reality”. The question I’m asking here is, who’s the director?
Belief and opinion govern our perceptions and actions in the material and inner worlds. But no one of them is more important or even consequential on the spiritual level than any other. What you do with, or in spite of, your beliefs and opinions is far more consequential spiritually than what they happen to be. How you act upon the world and other people governs what happens to you after you drop your vehicle and move on, more than what belief system you defended while you were in your body. One belief may be louder than another, more coherent than another, or held by more people than another. But on the spiritual level—which I submit is ultimately the one that matters most in the longest and deepest run—they are just the mechanisms of living, but not its essence. Spiritual progress depends much more on the progressive softening and letting go of the attachment and defending of all opinion and belief, and then acting in the world from a place more essential and universal than attachment to those thought-forms would mandate, than it does on the defending and imposing of them on other people, no matter how successful that imposition may be in earthly terms.
(I would define “spiritual progress” as the multi-lived learning of the lessons offered by life on earth, with the eventual graduation of each soul to higher planes of existence.)
Opinion and belief are given importance by our attention, attachment and promotion of them: our choice to believe in our beliefs. Belief and opinion are the equivalent of sunglasses. They color perception, but blue ones aren’t more accurate in perceiving objective reality than brown or green ones. If you forget that you put the glasses on, you will declare, maybe even up to fighting about it, that the world is blue, by God, and anyone who thinks its green is at least a fool, maybe even a traitor.
In the realm of opinion and belief, when considered (as they do not) from the deeper point of view, the President-elect and his minions are fundamentally correct. Truth that is overshadowed by opinion and belief is in the eye of the promoter and those foolish enough to accept someone else’ bombastic version of the truth.
Looked at from the angle I am suggesting—which requires me momentarily freeing myself from the attachment to my beliefs and opinions as something other than my personal preferences—no one belief is better than another.
And from this point of view, your beliefs and opinions are no better than Donald Trump’s.
Post-truthism has its points.
And at the same time, we purposely live in a material world that has its rules and agreements. It is in the context and juxtaposition in our intimate relation to this world that our education as spiritual beings takes place. The world exists apart from our opinions and beliefs. Facts exist apart from their interpretation by opinion and belief. We have been given this magnificent planet that we cohabit. To do that collectively, we agree on certain definitions. We agree that that thing over there is a tree. We can look at a polluted river and agree that it didn’t used to be that way and that something has made it be like it is now. And either three million people voted illegally, or they didn’t. The Russians hacked our election, or they didn’t.
And we can see, if we are not blinded by our philosophies (which are just beliefs and opinions wrapped with bows), that where the post-truth argument—even the more expanded, spiritual version that I am advocating—breaks down is, as they say, where the rubber meets the road. When we act from those beliefs on the world we all inhabit and on the people who are our fellows in it, not all beliefs and opinions remain neutrally the same. When it’s inside of Ben Carson, the belief that poverty is in all cases a choice, which is in turn based on his own unresolved trauma of growing up a weird kid in a poor neighborhood, with his repressed rage and terror leaking out of his pores, is his business. (I’d tell him to get some serious therapy, but that’s just my opinion.) When its inside him in his cut-off little world, his truth is not better or worse than the opinion inside of a single mother who can’t find more than a minimum wage job to feed her kids, who are going to understaffed, under- funded schools, that her poverty is something she grew up in and has no clue as to how to overcome.
The rubber meets the road when the first opinion is put in material charge of and over the second one. Then the post-truth, it’s-just-two-opinions argument, loses its quirky neutrality. Then it is policy made from mental illness and blind, ideology-excused meanness seeking to further destroy the life of another human being to satisfy its own illness.
We are used to seeing policy made from ideology, which is a systematic arrangement of beliefs that define reality to its adherent, regardless of the inconvenient interference of facts or the evidence of its limited and deleterious effect on the actual world and her inhabitants. Republican ideology, Democratic ideology, religious ideology, secular ideology, capitalist ideology, socialist ideology, conservative ideology, liberal ideology, your ideology and my ideology. These last two might not be as coherent or as impactful beyond our little world as the others. They may only run our little corner of the universe, as opposed to countries and economic systems and wars, but I submit for your contemplation that we have nevertheless formed ideologies and lived through them, in spite of evidence that they are limited, narrow, and rigid in the face of their limitations and having outlived their usefulness.
And now we are in a moment when even those ideologies that we may have adhered to in the past, trusted to interpret the world for us and guide the actualizations of our opinions, aren’t working any more. The solutions to the challenges of building a world, on both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels, based on what we used to think of as agreed upon principles, don’t work anymore. The “box” that we used to operate within, the referents for what we believe and don’t believe, what we follow and refuse to follow, are being re-defined as non-existent by the purveyors of post-truthism.
Do you want to spend your next years arguing that, “Oh yeah, there really is truth” and fighting for your opinion to be heard? Arguing for a liberal agenda instead of the cynical, feed-the-rich, close-the-borders, suck-the-earth-dry and let-the-poor-folks-kill-each-other one that will be in charge of our government? Of course those policies are heinous to anyone with . . . what?
We come to the question I have been asking myself in this moment in the bizarro-world we have entered. Where does my “policy” come from now? If I look at what is, and rather than railing against it (at least not all the time), I look for the potential opportunity in it, what do I see? If I, just for a minute, encapsulate and put aside my belief that I must fight for what I believe and condemn without cease that which violates my opinions, infusing my inner and outer world with fear, anger and condemnation, and become available to another impulse, what does my inner voice tell me? When I do that, I find an aspect of myself, a quieter, calmer part of myself that is centered somewhere in my chest, that is smiling. Not smiling like, “Oh good, the shit is hitting the fan.” Smiling like, “Now you have to turn to me for answers. I’ve been waiting for you. Nice to make your acquaintance after all this time. ”
The outer madness can, if we are moderately humble, show us the exaggeration of our own commitment to “making policy” based on our own ideology, our own beliefs and opinions. We can use the opportunity of the external referents being in disarray to find a new referent, a new policy advisor, with different priorities, different views; wider, deeper, independent of the reflections of opinion, internal and external to our own vehicle.
When all else fails, when the madness of egos-run-wild is in charge so obviously and starkly, the heart is waiting for us, as it has been all along. And not the Hallmark Card heart of fluff and sparkles; not the metaphorical heart of pop songs. The actual implanted-in-your-vehicle heart that is at the center of your energetic system and which contains most of the qualities that you need in this time and beyond this time to navigate the winds of life on earth with calm and certainty.
In my long observation, when people engage in an authentic healing process, provoked by illness, calamity, or commitment to self-realization, many of their belief and opinion-forms literally dissolve in their mental body, and are replaced by new forms that allow for more energetic fluidity in the vehicle, which rigid beliefs and opinions act like dams in impeding. Energetic flow, freedom of movement in the vehicle, is one simple, but accurate, definition of health. What happens is that literally a new belief forms to replace the outmoded one. (I don’t quite know how this happens. Consciousness is the deepest mystery.) The practical expression of this dynamic energetic process is that people who heal authentically and deeply become less opinionated by becoming less attached to their particular belief system on their way to more robust health; they become more “open minded”. This is both cause and effect of the process of transformation. Their self-definition will change multiple times in the process, as old pain and trauma is released and insights into themselves and spiritual reality occur with greater frequency. A person thus committed to the multi-leveled process of authentic healing is using the opportunity of health challenges to wend their way to identification with their true, inner self. Along the way, they are becoming freer of constricting beliefs that, since our vehicle is an integrated, whole mechanism and not a conglomeration of isolated parts, leads to greater fluidity and dynamism in the whole system. The process of deep transformational healing frees us from our habitual patterns of relying on opinion and belief as the sword and shield of identity. We are freed to choose another anchor, another identity. The heart is a really good choice to consider.
Your heart has always had these qualities as part of its make-up; calmness, compassion, faith, trust and forgiveness are literally—not metaphorically, not in imagination—located in discrete sites in the area in front of and behind what you have been used to thinking of as your heart center. This is true of every human. Every. Whether someone embodies compassion instead of judgment, faith instead of fear, forgiveness instead of vengeance, truth instead of post-truth is entirely up to each one to choose. That is the divine gift of choice in its most stark and affecting expression. The art of embodying and following these individually inherent and yet universal qualities as references and guides in one’s life, is the inner yoga art of learning to consciously link our consciousness with the desired quality in the place where it lives in our energetic field. When you learn how to do it, it is no more complicated or difficult than doing a yoga asana. And like practicing yoga, or playing an instrument or a sport, the more you practice and the more your intention is refined and directed to your goal, the more completely you come to embody these qualities.
The heart has built in to it both a truth-o-meter and a bullshit meter. They are infallible when they are cleaned, trusted and tested in little ways before your life is turned over to them. The voice that delivers the counsel as to what is true and what is bullshit is the voice of intuition. Intuition is also the voice that tells you when and how to act, what and when to say, when you are linked to the place of compassion that resides 6 inches in front of the center of your chest. From this little place of compassion in my vehicle, I am linked to the universal force of compassion that runs through all creation. From the place of faith (which has nothing necessarily to do with religion) that is another 6 inches out from my chest, I am automatically linked to the universal force of faith that literally drives creation forward. When I learn to call, recognize and let it fill my heart, forgiveness will come to its pre-prepared slot in my heart and make me new and now.
These are worthy guides and referents for a post-madness life.
The first step in aligning with your heart is to recognize how you have made policy up until now. The next step is to make your prayer (or your strong intention if you prefer) to live through and from your heart. Make this prayer in whatever way you usually make a prayer, with this possible adjustment: pray into the positive. Rather than, “I don’t want to live from my fear any more”, make your prayer, “I choose to live through my faith.” Rather than, “I don’t want to live in opposition”, choose harmony and integration inside you. What no longer serves you will, by necessity, transform as your inner being—in collaboration with your guides and the universal river of harmony—makes the adjustments necessary to actualize your new choices.
And be forewarned. By exerting your most precious gift of free will and making the choice to live from a different place in you, and by implication releasing the opinions and beliefs that served the old place, you are invoking a strong and even—in the short run—perhaps, painful process. Transferring loyalty from ideology, opinion, and outmoded belief to the heart is stepping into the stream that is carrying humanity to its next phase of existence; living on earth through the heart. But we aren’t there yet or even, as far as anyone who is grounded can tell, will be soon, as is painfully obvious. To live through the heart will make you a pioneer.
Living through the heart has its own sets of challenges. Besides the likely reality of inner transformation, your outer life may very well need some adjustment. If it is true that we manifest our lives from where in our bodies we interact with life itself, then when I come to the heart, whatever isn’t compatible with my heart has got to either change or leave. That can include the need to find more truthful, fulfilling work and relationships based on and committed to love, truth and respect. It is a fantasy encouraged by our culture that you can have it all with no need to make hard choices. The consequences and rewards of living through the heart go hand-in-hand: more truth, less bullshit, more joy, way more interesting in the not knowing, less wiggle-room for ambivalence to play around.
The good news is; you are not even close to being alone in your contemplation of pledging your loyalty to your heart. In every country, in almost every group, in every configuration of humans, the heart is nudging, whispering, offering, pointing out the possibility of a new way. The collective heart of humanity is speaking through varied voices: through art, through music, through poetry, through the mouths of those who open to her impulses, whether or not they know it consciously. Mostly the heart is speaking and calling through acts guided by compassion, faith and forgiveness; creating a sub-field—a circle of the heart flowing delicately but surely over the whole earth, linked with the stream made up of those vibrations in all creation—for those making the choice for the heart to tap into and from which to draw strength and inspiration.
We are in the middle of a huge transition in humanity. There are no road maps from here on out. What will guide each one of us, and what will guide our families and our work and our communities and our actions, both in creating new ways of being and, if we are called to it, opposing the madness directly, can be the heart. The price we will pay is to let go of the illusion of certainty that ideology and rigid beliefs afford. The reward is opening to love and truth and knowing ourselves in ways we have only imagined.
Blessings and wishes for health, strength, courage, truth, laughter and no more bullshit in this New Year.