I had lunch this week with a good friend who is Iranian by birth. Our conversation turned—how could it not?—to the appalling reports coming from that troubled part of the world. The death, suffering and dislocation of thousands of people are beyond imagining. The destruction of centuries-old monuments to human achievement and creativity is appalling. What are we to think? What can we do? How can voices of reason prevail—or even be heard—in the cacophony of accusations and vindictive justifications that are hurled in our direction? Earlier in the same conversation we had been mutually appreciating the wonderful ways in which the constant, loving rhythm of Spirit was expressing in both our lives—even through challenges of health and unemployment. Life, for each of us, isn’t always pleasant. But it’s always interesting, and it’s been guiding our consciousness in exactly the right direction. Knowing that—truly knowing it—makes it possible to move through any apparent challenge in a calm, loving, confident state of mind. And it is that state of mind, of course, that allows that spiritual rhythm to dance more and more joyfully through our many life experiences.
And yet after just a few minutes of discussing the Middle East we were both as angry, anxious and tense as we both had consistently felt when we believed ourselves to be the source of good in our own lives. As our focus got broader, it became harder to stay centered in Spirit.
None of us is able to maintain a spiritual state of mind 24/7. But I think each of us can see—in ourselves and in each other—that we have come a long way in terms of the spiritual surrender that offers an energy of peace and appreciation that would have been impossible when we felt obliged to ‘handle’ things out of ego mind.
So. If we are still challenged daily to remember to appreciate everything in our own lives, despite many rich experiences that would support it, how surprising can it be that we find it more difficult—sometimes infinitely more—to apply this simple spiritual practice of appreciation to what seems to be the epic global drama of which we are each a part?
And should we even be doing that? I find that the most difficult part of embracing universal appreciation is the need to surrender my deeply rooted ego mind insistence that there must be good and bad, right and wrong in every apparent challenge. In other words, I find myself teaching and embracing Unity in much of my life while clinging to the more familiar duality when I consider the state of the world.
Everything conspires to hold us in duality consciousness: our own sense of moral outrage, the collective consciousness of the world, even the very language we use to frame our beliefs and affirmations. The broader the canvas, the more insistent that ego voice, and the more absurd our Unity beliefs can seem.
But the way to peace, to love, to a world of collective appreciation cannot ever lie through a return to a belief in duality. The key, I think, lies in the difference between judgment between two competing ideas and discernment that some choices are more effective and efficient than others. We can—must—both affirm for unity and stand firm in our beliefs. We can lovingly discern that choices anchored in fear and anger inevitably bring more negative energy into expression. Affirming for love isn’t for sissies. It asks us to stand firm in our faith. It may lead us to taking actions that may seem confrontational to others. How things may or may not appear to others can no longer be our defining concern. If we know in our hearts that we are anchored in love, the energy we create will be equally as loving.
It’s also essential that we recognize that the power of prayer does not recognize any mortal limitations of size or distance. We once doubted that focused, affirmative prayer would work in our own lives. Now we know without question that it works…well…perfectly. We may now doubt that our individual prayers have any meaningful effect on global challenges. Let’s be willing to learn that, in fact, there is nothing in this human experience that comes even close to working as well.