The heading of this post is a comment by Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi. He added, “It was dumb luck that I ran into Buddhism.” I appreciate the point. I wasn’t looking for Christianity or faith or assurance or any such. I too was looking for a way to get real.
It’s a sketchy proposition these days—finding reality within a faith tradition. Ken Wilber and others have pointed out that most faith traditions these days are stuck in a “mythic-fundamentalist” frame of reference where the aim is to preserve a pristine truth from the past. He writes that mostly Buddhism has avoided that trap and has continued to evolve. I’m attracted to anyone who is avoiding the preserve-the-past trap who has decided to evolve.
This morning, Diane Hamilton led us through an hour and a half of small group sharing that evoked a wonderful, open and passionate state of being. Her teacher colleagues asked her to tell the story about the birth of her son. She spoke about admiring the quality of a woman’s way of being with her Downs Syndrome child in the pool where Diane was exercising one day. Without any signs or premonition, her own son, born the very next day, is a Downs Syndrome child. She described finding her own quality of interaction with her son as she worked through the shock, the grief, and the beauty of a new life. She said, “If you don’t expect truth where you are, where do you expect to find it?”
My notes closely follow but do not quote Diane’s remarks: Evolution has been waking us up. I am a process evolving in relationship with other processes. There are so many trajectories of change and that only evokes wonder. People are coming back to fundamentalisms. But the structures of the fundamentalisms are not evolving. These structures set in amber challenge us. We’re challenged by all of this. When we hear that Ken is feeling better, we all want to know, “What is he thinking about?” Ken is working on bringing non-dual awareness to the evolution that is taking place in our time. When I go into go into the wonder of all this becoming, I’m not so much interested in [all the intellectual system stuff], but I do have energy around the skillful means. The highest Third Turning teaching is about this moment. We will see that the Fourth Turning is real if we discover that we are all doing our own turning in our sanghas
Ken Wilber joined us for an hour and a half after lunch and body-energy exercises. The following notes follow Ken’s thoughts but paraphrase his remarks.
Ken. A world-centric view of reality opens us to feeling oneness with all humans. The western constitutions tried to give all minorities a place within culture and this was a major breakthrough on the way to more inclusive capacities. A world-centric outlook opens human beings to feeling oneness with all beings and all things. Enlightenment and awakening results.
Human beings are born into an infantile, highly individualistic identity. But they grow to want to help the members of their own group—it’s helping themselves. We’ve come now to wanting to help all people anywhere; it is a profound development to want to reduce the suffering of all people everywhere. A world-centric position requires me to get involved with other humans and ultimately all beings. The broader embrace, greater awareness, and wider appreciation we see is not about mushing everything down. They are rather about looking for unity in diversity—the patterns that unite us all in spite of the idiosyncrasies that differentiate us.
Eros in action is the infinitely powerful force that in all areas is asking how we can be more inclusive. How can we encourage and support such going forward? What practices can help us help this becoming? These are ideas popping up everywhere, with specific organizations and forces that are offering ways to expand awareness.
Evolution from dust to Shakespeare has an upward thrust behind it. It can’t just be a random process. It has to be spirit in action that is first pushing uphill, inherently self organizing, bringing forces together. Evolution is the very mechanism by which spirit becomes manifest in actuality. The universe has come into being as spirit in action in a self-organizing drive.
People might look back in 500 or 1000 years and think of these years we have been living through as a dark age. It is imperative that we understand change, put together practices for change, and then change. We have to start doing this work now. The era in which there are only fixed ideas in the mind of God is over. The surf is coming in and everyone has to be on a surf board. There has never been an era that has been more exciting and important. We have a chance to create real humans for the first time in history. What an opportunity to die proud of having been involved in this enterprise. Let’s hope we can do that.
Today included wave after wave of big thoughts, deep insights, ideas and images that resonated deeply; small group conversations that revealed shared experiences, common work; and immediate identification with the others in the small group. The teachers facilitated dialogue that raised issues and offered ways to think about the questions, plus suggestions for practices and further exploration.
Those of us who have evolved within the Judeo-Christian heritage have a lot of thinking and sitting in contemplative silence to do together. How will we lead our colleagues and those who come to us with questions and yearnings on this positively luminous and engaging path of letting go and moving on. Together.