Sometimes, it’s when all hope is seemingly lost that the greatest breakthroughs occur in life. Whatever forces us to recognize the limit to what we can do by ourselves, opens the mind to consider the possibility that there might be another way. When everything is all messed up, we’ve played all our cards, and we don’t have a clue what to do now – that often becomes a magic moment. Commonly called “bottoming out,” it’s the point when we realize that our way isn’t working – and then miraculously, things start working.
Nations can bottom out, just like individuals. And the situation in Iraq is just such a moment. You know the government is running out of cards to play when they’re thinking that maybe Iran can help. Or when the media’s idea of great coverage is to call and ask the people who got us into Iraq for any great ideas they might have now that it’s all exploded in our faces. To say we’re grasping for straws is an understatement. Looking at the power of ISIL leads to horrifying possibilities that make the most varied sets of people, from the most disparate places and viewpoints, all ultimately come to the same conclusion: “We really, really have a problem here.”
So what now?
From a spiritual perspective, the first thing we all do is to admit that the situation is not solvable by the mortal mind alone. That admission is both death to the ego and birth of the wiser self. It puts us into a different place of consciousness, a more humble attitude that doesn’t make us dumber – it makes us smarter. It moves us beyond that small number of brain cells that we’re currently using, taking the evolutionary leap that is the challenge of humanity at this moment – to realize that the human species will not survive unless we evolve beyond our material, mechanistic, Newtonian notion of how the universe operates. Our task is to embrace the primacy of consciousness as both the reality and the power that it is. There is more to the mind than the intellect, and the intellect alone can’t solve every problem. This is not bad news, by the way; it's good.
Next, we move, en masse, into the level of consciousness that is the deeper Reality underlying all things, a self-organizing and self-correcting matrix of energy (some call it God, some do not) that is the natural intelligence of the universe. It is the mysterious guidance by which embryos turn into babies, acorns turn into oak trees and buds turn into blossoms. Our self-will only interferes with this intelligence; our lack of love obstructs it; prayer and meditation release it to work on our behalf.
As we can see from simply looking at a flower, nature knows how to organize itself. And this same force would organize human affairs if we would allow it to. This allowance occurs whenever we place our minds in correct alignment with the laws of the universe -- through prayer, meditation, forgiveness and compassion. Until we do this, we will continue to manifest a world that destroys rather than heals itself. Iraq is a perfect example.
Participating in the creation of collective field of prayer and meditation is something that each of us can do to help end the cycle of violence in the Middle East. Taking the mind to its natural state of alignment with the Truth at the center of things, these activities of the mind act like a magnet to attract the healing potential inherent in the universe. In the words of Martin Luther King, internal changes in the direction of non-violence are “materially passive but spiritually active.” There are, in that field of collective meditative/prayerful consciousness, infinite possibilities that the conscious mind can simply not formulate.
What is the conceit that this time in history is calling us to surrender? It is the notion that the conscious, mortal, intellectual mind can be trusted to rule and organize all things. Given the state of affairs on the planet today, it is preposterous to think it can. As they would say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Our best thinking got us here.”
A study published in the Yale Journal of Conflict Resolution in l985 reported on a group of advanced meditators from the Transcendental Meditation Movement who meditated in Jerusalem in l983 during the height of the Lebanese Civil War. During the summer of 1983, on each day in which there were large numbers of meditators, violence dropped and stayed low for an additional day or so and then went back to its previous levels. The final data revealed that whenever the group of meditators assembled, there was an average of a 76% reduction in war deaths.
Why is this so?
Because on a level of subtle energy, often referred to as the Unified Field Theory, all minds are joined as one. In the words of Candace Badgett, founder of the Women’s Institute at Maharishi University, “War is the result of the build up of stress and negativity in collective consciousness… And it’s consequences are the suffering and resentment that in turn perpetuate retaliation in the form of terrorism, conflict …..and more war.” Breaking this cycle of violence is now within the reach, and the power, of each of us. The more we all do our part to prepare the field, the more creative solutions will be available to world leaders seeking to effectuate external change.
Often in life, collectively and well as individually, we find ourselves confronted by more than problematic events; we find ourselves confronted by a resistant energetic force field that external change of itself does not fundamentally altar. And so it is with the scourge of war. War is not just an external event; it is a field of fear-based consciousness that needs to be addressed on internal as well as external levels. And that will take all of our efforts.
Here are five principles for spiritual activism:
l) Atone in your heart for your own warlike nature – any thoughts or behavior of judgment or attack -- and seek to change your life where necessary.
2) Spend at least five minutes a day in prayer or meditation, knowing you are part of a global field of consciousness at work on the inner planes to bring about world peace. 3) Seek to organize your own community of like-minded individuals to join you in prayer or meditation groups for world peace.
4) If it applies, atone with others for the behavior of your country if it has in the past, or is now, participating in unjust military activity.
5) Practice mercy and compassion towards yourself and others, particularly resisting any temptation to monitor someone else’s journey rather than your own.
Just as science is seen not as a separate category of life, but rather the material alphabet that explains all external phenomena, so is consciousness the science of the inner life. The field of consciousness today is what the scientific revolution was for to late 19th and early 20th century, representing a similar advent of a new frontier. The question today is not how to convince others that these things are true. Enough of us now know they are. The issue now is how to harness the energy and power of this new understanding, so we can get on with the urgent task of saving our world from the clutches of war and delivering it to fields of unending peace. Visiting these fields within ourselves, we automatically become the source providers of their emergence in the outer world.
In the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "In order to save the world, we must have a plan. But no plan will work unless we meditate."
It is time. It is possible. It is simply ours to do.