It’s at times like these – times of great chaos in the social fabric – that I am most grateful for my background in history, in archetypes, and in mysticism.
They are ideal companions in terms of helping me form a lens through which I interpret events as they unfold in the world around me, both personally and in the larger arena. An archetypal overview of events combined with some history may offer us some insight into what is unfolding in our nation and in the world around us. Let me begin by saying it’s not all bad news – whew. But it’s not all good news, either. It’s realistic news – and that’s the key word these days – realism.
That we are now living in a time of immense chaos is obvious. But it is precisely for times like these that you have prepared your inner consciousness and soul to transcend reptiles of fear (as Teresa of Avila would say) in order to keep centered and clear headed. And it is exactly in times like these that you rely upon the wisdom and grace from the finest mystical truths that you have learned from ENTERING THE CASTLE or SACRED CONTRACTS or any other seminars you attended or authors you have read. The wisdom of Teresa of Avila, for example, is very appropriate for times like these because she understood the nature of Divine chaos and directed her nuns in ways to respond to personal experiences of Divine chaos. A cycle of frantic social change is an expression of Divine chaos; that is, the stability factors that have held the social fabric in place are shifted seemingly in an instant and the result is chaos.
For Teresa of Avila, Divine chaos was God’s way of creating an upheaval in order to break through patterns of denial that held a person emotionally or mentally captive. Or Divine chaos brought about necessary endings to ways of living that ceased to serve the well being of humanity. Whether the task you are attending to is personal or professional, it is essential that you put conscious thought into it, that you do it with as much awareness as you can, given the reality that none of us can be that aware each day. But realistically, the point being driven home by Teresa as well as other great mystics is that when you become too accustomed at what you are doing – too bored or too familiar – you retreat into unconsciousness. You no longer have to push yourself toward consciousness. You reach a place where you let habit and familiarity do all the work for you – and that is a danger zone, a serious danger zone and a prime set up for an encounter with chaos. Why would that be?
After all these years of teaching, some things still baffle and challenge me again and again, among them is, “What exactly is this business of consciousness about that we are in if not to become conscious?” When anything becomes habit, in particular your life, what becomes of the challenge of becoming conscious? How is that task supposed to be accomplished? Of what are you supposed to become conscious? (Please don’t tell me your wounded history). Ideally, our task is to become conscious of how we direct the power of our spirit into acts of creation during the course of our life. More or less, that sums it up. An illuminated soul is one who is on to the game, who really understands what Buddha meant by seeing clearly through the world of physical illusion and not being controlled by that world. Jesus would say, “Be in the world but not of the world.” Same truth, different words. What we are meant to become conscious of is how well we live in accordance to these high cosmic truths while in physical form.
When are you melting too much into the world of illusion, for example? Do you know? Can you recognize when that sensation of melting is happening to you? Are you able to say to yourself, “Careful, I am now losing my power in this conversation because I am becoming frightened?” And then, equally if not more important, are you able to detach from that conversation and potential fear once you spot it? If not, you become captured by the illusion, by a fear that you should have been conscious enough to protect yourself from as this is what your inner work is all about: learning to discern what is truth from illusion – at all times, in all places. That test never stops, it never goes away. The moment you think you have conquered a part of yourself is the moment you are tested, like the addict who announces he has won his war with alcohol, only to discover that his hubris is his downfall. Consciousness is hard work and when we slip, which we all do, the net that catches us when we fall is chaos itself.
The common thread in every experience of Divine chaos is one of truth; specifically, a person has fallen out of alignment with his or her core truths. Divine chaos is a course corrector, a way of bringing down the systems that distraction built in order that they can be replaced with systems or structures designed with conscious thought. That’s the ideal, of course, and ideals are rarely achieved – thus, we are visited by Divine chaos again and again. It is not easy, this business of becoming a conscious human being, but what’s your other option?
As I now look at America and the Divine chaos sweeping across the land, I am not surprised in the least at the situation this nation is in. Divine chaos is a course corrector, a force that demands truth be returned to the system where it has grown dim. And truth has grown dim in America. We have tampered with this nation’s Sacred Contract; most specifically, its commitment to freedom, justice, and liberty. And now we stand on the brink of losing this great democracy and we are kidding ourselves if we turn the other way and think such a thing cannot happen. It can. History is replete with examples of nations that have risen to great positions of power and wealth and then fallen, precisely because they came to believe that such a fall could not happen to them. No nation is immune from the lessons of history – not Rome, not Greece, not the great English empire, not any nation. We must never take for granted that America will always be free and wealthy because that’s the way it has always been – and because that’s the way we want it to be. Consciousness demands that we see clearly the problems that have brought the chaos into our lives and that we examine these problems in order to find the wisest solutions lest we find ourselves in such a predicament again – a predicament of believing a government could run itself honorably.
Not since the Civil War has America confronted such a threat to its democratic roots and its Constitution, already weakened by the Patriot Act. The encouraged hostility by the present administration between the Republicans and the Democrats, not only in the Senate but in the mainstream public, mirror the hostilities that once divided the north and the south. Curiously, as in the time of the Civil War, once again a lawyer turned Senator has emerged from the state of Illinois, a man given to philosophy and high vision who is a Constitutional lawyer, dedicated to the principles of the American Constitution. History does repeat itself in its lessons and in its catastrophes - and in its opportunities for resolutions. Lincoln was a man who believed in negotiations where possible and in not punishing the south at the conclusion of the Civil War. He was a man motivated by wisdom who recognized the horror of the war and the futility of endless battles. Just yesterday I listened to interviews on CNN regarding the "racial factor", noting, according to CNN polls, that still there were people in this country that could not bring themselves to vote for Obama because of his race - never mind his character or qualifications. His race was the problem. I thought of Lincoln and the Civil War and the issue of freedom for the slaves...and I thought, "Is it possible that the issue of abolition had morphed to the psychic plane? Are we really still fighting that battle in this day and age?" Apparently, according to the polls.
The positive side of the crises happening in America right now is that all problems are a collective call to action, a wake-up call to all of us to realize that freedom is not a guaranteed privilege. Our Founding Fathers and Mothers fought for the right to be free. Freedom requires continual conscious upkeep on behalf of the citizens of this nation – and that means all of us. We have to return to the task of becoming ferociously active citizens, reminding the politicians of this country that they work for us. We need to reawaken America’s founding spirit, that passion for truth, for liberty, and for justice and human rights. We need to become America again and not just for our sake as Americans, but for the sake of the rest of the world. Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all believed that America was a great experiment in democracy from which the entire world would benefit. Was it possible to create a nation that would protect the rights of the human spirit first and foremost? That was their main objective – and that is a breathtaking one, still to this day. A government whose primary objective was to protect the rights of the human spirit above all else – just reflect on that for a moment and all that has come from their efforts so many years ago.
I have long believed that the Founding Fathers and Mothers of America were political mystics dedicated to bringing forth an idea whose time had come. Like so many other tumultuous times in history, mystics and mystical wisdom becomes the saving grace because we will inevitably seek the highest form of thought and inspiration to see our way through a chaotic passageway. I believe that many people are now called to be mystics out of the monastery, mystics in the open market place of life where they are needed the most. The world is the new monastery, not in the religious sense, but as the residence of the collective soul of humanity. This season of Divine chaos that we are living in represents far more than the upheaval occurring in our nation. We have reached the end of an entire era, which also means we are entering a new one which can be identified by any of the following descriptions: the age of energy, the age of the sun, the age of the soul, the age of the mystic. To have a mystic’s perspective gives you the opportunity to respond to chaos consciously – with grace, with the power of your soul.
I teach my students in my seminar on, ENTERING THE CASTLE, to go within to that holy place that Teresa of Avila identified as the interior castle. This is your core place of power and of clarity and of healing grace. I can imagine no greater place to direct all of you than into the blissful silence of your interior castle, especially in times of Divine chaos. Always remember that chaos is about truth – find the truth and align yourself to that one single force and the chaos will settle around you. That is always the case, though it may take time. Divine chaos is always a messenger of truth.
I love this prayer and I’m sending it to you in the hopes that you’ll enjoy it as well.
“Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which you planted in me at my making. Out of the deeps I cry to you, O God.”