Photo: “Cataclysm” — Thanks to Eric Kilby on Flickr!

By Marcel Hernandez, N.D.

There’s a famous Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” 

And, boy, are these times “interesting”!

Over the last several years we’ve had to deal with divisive national and international politics.  We’ve had to bend our hearts to process the horrors of systemic and chronic racism.  We’ve had to witness the inhuman rhetoric of white supremacists and hate mongers.

And then suddenly COVID struck, accompanied by its own litany of misinformation, restrictions, and confusing rhetoric.

And then, without pause, record-setting wildfires erupted on the West Coast, darkening our skies and immersing us in smoke, ashes, destruction, and fear.

As I write this, hurricanes and tornados are developing over the Atlantic.

That’s probably not the extent of challenges, but let’s stop here.

A point I’d like to make is that every crisis is unique. These crises might feel like the worst we’ve experienced, but they are not.

In the 14th century bubonic plague killed 31% of the European population.  In 1347 alone, 18 million died. During the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1920, the population of Earth was 1.5 billion.  It’s estimated that roughly 500 million, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected, and the number of deaths worldwide were estimated at upwards of 50 million, with roughly 675,000 deaths in the U.S.

The emotional effects of these interesting times have been devastating for many who are trying cope without the inner support of a personal spiritual practice to counterbalance the assault.

Those of us who are trying to embrace the world with consciousness and kindness can be tempted to feel helpless before the overwhelming dimensions of these events.  

I’ve observed to friends that the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s introduced the notion that “Mother Earth” is a living, conscious entity that we must treat with gentleness and respect, as we would a loving parent.

Today, amidst the pandemic consciousness of greed and exploitation, gentleness and respect for the Earth have largely vanished from human hearts. I feel that it’s not at all beyond the scope of reality to imagine that the Earth has grown weary of human defilement and is  fighting back in the most effective way She knows.

Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
And they struggled to protect her from them
Only to be confused
By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

“Before the Deluge,” by Jackson Browne, full lyrics here 

There’s a Japanese expression: “With unified consciousness, even mountains can be penetrated.”

The only way I can see out of our current dilemma is to understand the truth that we are each a single thread in the tapestry of creation.  

Arranged in a coherent design, all of the threads together can make a tapestry that will be harmonious, integrated, and beautiful. Our task, individually, is to aspire to be the strongest, most beautiful thread we are able, as a conscious part of the beautiful whole.

We can best participate in the solution by contributing as much as we can manage. We may not be able to control the crises, but we can control our inner response and our actions.

Very simple, but not easy. Here are three ways to bolster our quest for loving self-mastery and inner freedom.

  1. Surround yourself with uplifting, positive people.  Respectable studies have shown that thoughts and feelings can affect others’ health and consciousness at a distance of up to six feet.  By attuning ourselves to people who deeply understand how to turn challenges into opportunities, we become infected in the best possible way that will strengthen us in our journey.

The  truth is, it requires lots of calm, patient, stubborn inner work and focus to stay positive. On the other hand, being negative requires no discipline at all – negativity and low consciousness are freely available to anyone.

  1. Stay mindful about thinking good thoughts. Your thoughts guide your words and actions. Staying mindful means living fully in the present moment – observing all that is happening around you without emotional reaction, simply noticing the flow of energy and attuning yourself to the highest vibration you can manage within yourself.
  2. Learn what it means to surrender everything to God. For many, this can be tough to imagine, much less do. But the wide-open secret that great souls have all known and proclaimed is that every challenge without exception is far easier to accept and overcome when our inner vision is focused upward.  If you can conceive of a loving God, and adopt the practices that reveal that presence within you, you’ll find that our trials never come without good reason. Parents may be very uncomfortable offering ”tough love” to their children, but wise, loving parents know that it’s indispensable for the long-term welfare of the child.

Swami Kriyananda expressed this life-guiding principle: “Stay safe, positive with your inner vision focused upwards.  This too shall pass.”

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