On the other hand, if you think that this stuff matters – that is, if you believe a political party is right or wrong, better or worse than the others – then you’re in as deep as you can go. At that level it’s just ego; there are no checks. You might as well pretend it matters who wins the Superbowl.
This is different from caring about certain outcomes in the world. Wanting kids to be fed and sheltered; wanting women not to suffer violence; wanting an end to weapons of mass destruction . . . those are goals entirely consistent with our ongoing spiritual realignment with Love. By all means work to bring them about in durable sustainable ways.
It’s not the goal that’s the problem – every sane person wants peace and happiness for their brother and sister and is willing to work to make it so.
No, the insanity appears when we decide that we know better than everyone else how to reach those goals and everybody else needs to get on board with us like yesterday.
This is the rank lovelessness of “I get it and you don’t,” against which Tara Singh warned.
I know, I know. You’re the sane one, not the insane one. I’m preaching to the choir. But riddle me this: how did I know where to draw the sane/insane line so you’d understand exactly what I meant? And how do you know on which side you’re to be found?
Hint: “I get it and you don’t.”
No. We’re in as deep as we can go, you and I. So the question becomes: what is to be done? And the answer is – because the answer is always – give attention in a forgiving way (an ACIM forgiving way) and see what happens.
Again, the problem is not that you’re frustrated that there are hungry kids in the world. What kind of monster accepts that kind of suffering?
The problem is the little tinge of righteousness you get about feeling that way, which almost always corresponds to vilifying somebody or something – Donald Trump, Congress, Capitalism – so big and/or vague you can’t reasonably be expected to do anything about it. This creates plausible deniability, which is essential to ego’s goal of continual self-deception.
Plausible deniability is how self-deception is sustained. We can’t fully lie to ourselves about the situation. We aren’t stupid. We’ve read books, talked to therapists. We know a yoga mat from a zafu. But we can’t fully own the lie either, because we’re scared and unsure of what the consequences will be and we don’t really want to find out.
Thus, we create mini-narratives in which we tell ourselves (and others, if they ask) that we would have owned the lie but couldn’t for reasons beyond our control. The phone rang. So-and-so was having a bad day. We were taking a “me” day away from stress. If you’d had my father . . .
These little excusal narratives allow just enough slack in attention to let us go on in self-deception. And self-deception creates a barely tolerable status quo in which our misery never quite reaches a level where we’re ready to blow everything up in search of a real solution.
Can you notice that? Because noticing that will redirect you to what you can do about whatever is vexing you. What you can do about it. In this way, you will become responsible for how you see and that means you will perceive a different world in which there is a lot you can do. A lot.
Making a commitment to this level of seeing is different than most spiritual paths the world offers us. It makes a different set of demands on our attention and living. It doesn’t tolerate half-measures (not because it’s vindictive but because half-measures don’t work). It’s more like on-the-job training than a spiritual practice. More psychotherapy than prayer.
Eventually, you will realize that the problem isn’t hungry kids. It’s adults who are so confused and tolerant of their confusion that obvious solutions and corrections to literally any problem become invisible or impossible.
You know, adults exactly like you and me.
Then you get arguments and straw men and studies and white papers and NGOs and social media campaigns and long talks into the night about the injustice of it all . . .
. . . and the kids are still hungry. And we still have that nagging feeling inside that there’s something we should do about it, would do about it if we could only remember . . . what self-help book it was it in . . . which yoga position is it unlocks the kundalini . . . is it Saint Francis I like or Saint Therese?
Yes. That’s not great. And yes. There is another way.
Heal yourself. Penetrate the illusion that you’re powerless; correct your seeing so that you stop perceiving the external appearance – the whole world of forms – as a symptom of an interior condition that believes it is a victim of outside forces. Get right on cause-and-effect. Stop acquiescing to powers you neither admire nor respect.
Get the reins back. Be real. Ask: where do you want us all to go?