Everything is an opportunity for awakening. So says one of my spiritual teachers. Leonard Jacobson.
And he did mean everything.
In the past two weeks the media in western countries (and many others) has been focussed upon the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Many of the readers who come to the Conscious Life News website like to consider themselves as being on a spiritual path; or at least see themselves as advocates of more peaceful human futures. Most of us are in agreement that we wold like to create a better future where the kind of hatred and intolerance we have seen is eliminated.
In my own writings I have spoken about the awakening of the human species from the delusion of mind (ego, if you prefer). In Champion of the Soul, I write of how we can do this through mastery of the mind.
If everything is an opportunity for awakening, how then might the events in Paris assist us in our collective human awakening?
The key to mastery of the mind is coming to understand deeply the nature of judgment.
The mind by its very nature is judgmental. It evaluates all that which it perceives, labelling and categorising it. It then decides which things are safe, and which are a threat. My understanding is that this tendency emerges from our evolutionary history, where discerning and judging things has been vital to our physical existence. For our ancestors, a dark figure rising from the trees to our left might have been be a friend, or it might have be a tiger. Those humans who lacked quick reflexes and quick judgmental capacities were soon eliminated from the gene pool.
Judgment is intimately is thus linked to a tendency to wish to eliminate, to destroy. This remains true today. If you carefully witness the judgments that arse from your mind, you will note a slight outward projection of anger, a subtle (or sometimes great) desire to rub out the thing that is being judged.
With the development of language the capacity for abstract thought became pronounced. People became increasingly attached to their own thoughts, and to their beliefs – to their worldview. For the mind, an idea or belief which is incompatible with its view to reality is a threat to its very existence.
Whenever something enters our awareness – whether it is a troubling real-life event, information or an opinion expressed by another – the mind exhibits a tendency to protect itself from the new idea. Somewhere within our minds the new idea is seen as something akin to the dark shadow rising out of the primeval forest. Is it friendly, or is it a threat? If it a threat, it needs to be eliminated.
This is how we develop mental positions which stand against ideas, people and groups with different beliefs.
Normally the simplest way to do get rid of an opposing idea is to push it away without confronting it. This may be a form of denial if the idea dismissed is indeed relevant and important.
We can also take action to eliminate the idea. We can react with anger, striking out at those with the opposing idea. We can engage in angry criticism, ridicule, shame and derision.
This is essentially the mindset which the Charlie Hebdo magazine projected, with their disrespectful depictions of the prophet Mohammad, Muslims and foreigners in general. This became more than just the culture of the magazine. It became the energy of it. And that energy was a mirror of the madness of those who destroyed them. Perhaps not quite as mad, but the consciousness of both parties had strong similarities.
It is important to acknowledge this. Consciousness has a resonance, a collective energy if you like. Judgment has an inherently destructive nature. It immediately pulls the mind into like-minded consciousness fields, like a spaceship being pulled into the gravity of a black whole.
Let me repeat this.
Judgment pulls us into dark consciousness fields.
Judgment entangles us with other minds and their projections. Judgment therefore also pull us into “drama” – read conflict – either in the physical world, or metaphysically by entangling our mind with the energy of those we are fighting.
Consciousness fields are like attractor fields – they attract resonant energy towards them.
Here is another key. Being against something is a judgment. Whatever you are against expands within your perception, and that’s part of the reason why you will tend to attract drama which reflects that judgment.
This includes being against anything, regardless of whether you believe the judgment is warranted or not.
A classic example is the human rights field. People in this field tend to be focused upon identifying and criticising human rights abuses around the world.
I noticed a related issue when I was living in China. Some expats – my friends – would become obsessed with China’s human rights abuses. As a result they became kind of half-crazy, enraged by “China”. But in fact it was not China they were angry at. It was the concept of China in their minds at which they were enraged.
What is real is that which is before you in this moment. The rest is a product of the mind.
It does not matter what you are against. You can be against murdering cartoonists. You can be against radical Islam. You can be against those who criticise Islam. You can be against Israel. You can be against the conservatives and the racists. Or you can be against those who are too politically-correct and refuse to be critical of non-western cultures and individuals.
It all stands in opposition to something; and the result is the same: the perpetuation of the madness of mind.
When you are in the mind you are not present. You are in a world of illusion. You remain a slave to the ego, not a master of the mind.
You remain unawakened.
So what attitude is permissible in the Charlie Hedbo case, if one wishes to be present to the truth of the situation?
It is possible to observe all levels of an event or the discourse which emerges from it without judgment, without engaging the mind and its destructive capacities.
The key is simply to be able to master the state of presence, and access it at will.
Part of that mastery is to be able to witness judgment as it rises within the mind, while remaining detached from it. Once that gap between judgment and observer collapses, then one is a slave to the mind, not a master if it.
There is no point learning the art of fire extinguishing when there is a fire raging in your house. For then it is too late. You need to prepare for the fire beforehand.
It is the same with mindfulness. You need to practice the art of presence, and make it central to your life. That way, when the fires of the mind are raging through the media and internet, you will not be tempted to rush blindly towards the flames.
But it doesn’t end there. It is indeed possible to become a mindful activist. It is possible to comment or act mindfully in regard to events which are heavily mired in the madness of mind – from a position beyond the mind. It is possible to be an advocate of freedom of speech. It is even possible to identify and criticise ideas and belief systems which are ignorant and destructive. It is just that you will not be against anyone or anything – not fighting them or the system. You be able to fully own all anger, judgments and projections. Most likely you will experience love compassion for all – even as you acknowledge their unconsciousness. Most importantly, you will be standing within your power as a human being, a champion of the soul, a master of the mind.
The world is desperately in need of such people. Are you willing to be one of them?