by Will Donnelly: You know, Gandhi was right when he suggested we become the change we wish to see in the world…
Though at times the world looks like a complete mess, our life’s work isn’t to look outside ourselves to make the world a better place. Our work is to look within and to make that a better place.
Each of us must cope with what it means to be a human being, and we all cope differently. As consciously spiritual beings, our work is to have the courage to look into the dark recesses of our minds and hearts, and face what, today, might seem unbearable. Along with bitterness, cruelty, and the rumination of terror, each of us posses darker aspects of humanity that we often would prefer to avoid. Many spiritual and religious groups focus on just this—avoidance of the dark psyche (which, ironically, only makes it more pronounced.) When it seeps out in a weak moment, we’ll furtively seek to mask it or justify it, but it is there nonetheless.
Throughout the ages, the sages simply remind us of our work. Go within. Listen to the still small voice. Encourage love and kindness. But what seems easy to forget is that we will hear many voices along this path—the victim, the abuser, the addict, as well as the saint, the healer, the protector, and so on. In this inner realm, there can be no spiritual bypass: Each inner voice must be heard, in order for us to make any sense out of our lives and to find where our true gifts for this life’s incarnation may be buried.
Behind every addiction, every cruel intention, every ounce of ill will, there lies buried a softer and more powerful gift—a constructive strength rather than a destructive weakness—if we have the courage and wherewithal to search. The bigger the problem, the bigger the gift.
Yes, this journey toward discovery often feels impossible. First, it feels impossible to (finally) admit that parts of our own psyche are pretty crappy. Then, it feels impossible to believe that we could have the strength to overcome these deeply embedded psychological core beliefs and fears.
As spiritually committed beings, it is not our task to save the world, but neither are we free to neglect the suffering we have created in it. Our task is to show up each day, humbly committed to staying awake. If we are awake, compassion is inevitable as we find the suffering of others unbearable, almost as if it were our own suffering. Christ was a great example of this.
So here’s a helpful thought: Just do what you can. It’s not how far you go in life, but how far you’ve come that makes the difference. To put this in pragmatic terms, maybe the deep racist just decides that their gut is tired of being frazzled with hate (it really does get exhausting!). So they just seek to neutralized their thoughts of hatred and simply focus on other things. Another person might be working on the same basic issues, but now is ready to be kind to those of a different ilk, to see them as human just the same. Yet another might take it even further.
If you believe in the Jungian collective unconscious, you begin to understand why mystics always say that even small shifts make a difference. The great collective conscious is always listening, always absorbing the collective state of humanity, and we are all sharing in it. Right now on our sweet planet Earth, we are having a “moment” where our dark shadow-self is showing itself to us. There is much fear circulating and it plays out in numerous, and sometimes horrific ways. This shadow self peaks from time to time in our human timeline. Paradoxically, it is in this very moment, the shadow moment of fear and numbness, where we find the keys to our spiritual freedom and success.
More than ever before, human beings are awakening, expanding and allowing for diverse acceptance of human rights. As we continue to do this inner work, we are contributing to something important, something mystical, something well beyond ourselves. Even though these short-term moments of mass shootings and dark mayhem make us think we are going in the wrong direction, overall the opposite is actually true.
As each of us commits to cultivating our true civility – our compassionate hearts – we unearth our buried treasure. It’s always within, but dormant unless we beckon it forward. Once brought forward, this stunning treasure holds more spiritual wealth than can be imagined right now, what some might call Heaven on Earth.
Never give up the search for your goodness. You are a buried treasure.