CHAPTER 1 – A LEAP INTO THE DEEP END
“Should we return from whence we came,
It’s sure we’d walk the same path again,
Crooked and narrow absent of light,
Shrouded by fear that darkens our sight,
We pray for redemption while raising the sword,
Bowing to evil while praising the lord,
The time for a savior has long come and gone,
Now who will lead this suffering throng?”
~ An ode to the predictability of history repeating itself.
The Context that Frames this Book
No one knows how and when time on Earth began. Billions of religious worshippers including those within Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, believe that the Earth and its human inhabitants came to be through a special act of creation. Others, who lean toward science, have adopted the view that the cosmos appeared after a sudden explosive origin that took place about 14 billion years ago—The Big Bang—followed by a slow evolutionary process that eventually brought into being the appearance of humans. One thing is clear, we are here, now, facing an uncertain future for what we have done to harm the earth’s capacity to support life.
Perhaps we each come with a mission, a unique purpose. Some appear destined to live big lives—with power, position, riches, and fame—others live in obscurity. Millions suffer hardship and some abject starvation, living in third world countries that those of us in the developing world would rather forget about as an annoying intrusion into our neatly packaged lives. Many suffer sickness, others are physically healthy until the day they die.
Over the course of history, millions have been oppressed, tortured, and murdered through ethnic cleansing, religious wars and world conflicts by a never-ending parade of madmen driven by self-serving religious or political ideology. The foundation of love that is supposedly at the heart of all religions has been all too often corrupted by those holding the reins of power within the church. Countless inquisitions and stories of martyrdom have stained the underlying notion of a loving supreme being whose presence we are one with. The notion of unity that defines the supposed doctrine at the heart of the world’s religions is defied by the corrupt actions of its leaders.
The recent discovery of the remains of hundreds of children buried like dogs outside a Canadian residential school shocked the world. The absence of records of the manner of their deaths and the testimony of sexual abuse by those who were held captive in conditions that were more like penitentiaries than residential care facilities, is clear evidence of the failure of the Catholic Church. A steady stream of horrors like this have marred the reputation of religious edifices around the globe over the course of hundreds of years.
History has proven religious and political regimes to be egoic societal constructs shaped by the “psychology of power” rather than the extension of the divine love and justice they purport to offer followers and parishioners. While the church and government may fulfill human belonging needs, ensure societal order, and the furtherance of faith within its followers, the ultimate purpose of protection of the people, healing and spiritual realization falls flat. The conflict that has ensued between the world’s religions and political belief systems is caused by, and founded on greed, power, and control, and not altruism and love. Because differentiation in beliefs necessarily puts us at odds with each other, it arouses threat and therefore the instinctive urge to kill, embroiled by the neurobiology that mobilizes attack through the “I’m right idea.” That is, my religion, beliefs, tribe, and territorial claims are at odds with all others and must be defended unto death. This fear/attack response has been at the core of our warring nature since time began. No matter who we are, where we are born, what we believe in and our individual lineage, life on Earth appears to be defined by fear, violence, and trauma.
Here in the modern age, easily led disciples and impressionable aspirants who follow the teachings of so-called prophets and self-proclaimed spiritual healers, believe they have found “the secret.” They are told they can shape life the way they want it to be through the power of visualization and positive thinking. Unfortunately, most of these dreamers eventually find out that they have been duped by clever, and manipulative schemers who leave their followers to flounder in a wake of empty promises after paying a financial and psychological price for their folly. The rise of California consciousness during the late 60s and 70s is a prime example of clever salesmanship and empty promise marketing that appealed to the spiritual needs of those who bought into these fads. There have even been mass suicides orchestrated by demented cult leaders like Jim Jones of the People’s Temple, whose power of persuasion led their flocks like sheep, into the literal valley of the shadow of death.
Those seeking a quick fix are unwilling, or perhaps lack the opportunity to do the deeply personal work of self-enquiry, turning rather to cults, or perhaps waiting for the return of a savior, or a divine intercession come to gather a chosen few to populate a new world. Such magical thinking is an abdication of personal responsibility, because the power of choice and the voice for change does not exist outside of ourselves. Salvation will not appear as a second coming, nor will it arrive with a miraculous cosmic visitation. No one is coming to save us!
The truth is, there are no simple answers to this incredibly complex state of affairs we have made for ourselves here on Earth. Problems cannot not be solved at the level at which they came to be. What we have done to harm ourselves, can only be made whole through our own undoing and the recognition that we must escape the shadow of fear that necessarily leads to intolerance and hate. Once we stop searching for what can never be found in the labyrinth of valueless striving—money, power, material possessions, mindless pleasures, dominance over others, etc—we begin to sink into the realm of the heart, where human compassion and empathy abide, patiently waiting to be claimed and shared. Finding the doorway that opens to the gentle light of love, vanquishes all that anchors us to our shadowy past. Turning around the damage brought to bear from thousands of years of fear conditioning, however, seems like mission impossible.
Yet, there are those of us who must become the agents of the kind of social change desperately needed by a troubled world. According to the laws of geometric progression, those with vision and consciousness are adding to what is becoming a critical mass, accumulating exponentially, and approaching an imminent inflection point. Despite the rocky road cut by false prophets and tread by hopeful innocents, the human cost has not been futile, because all things add to the summation of knowledge in a strangely deductive way. We learn to find the truth through a process of noting its absence: not this, not that! The potential to transform in the wake of a hopeful tipping point is unpredictable, but we cannot discount the power that exists within the human mind, both to do harm and also to heal. Thankfully, at the heart of being human lies goodness and decency.
The slow-moving train of consciousness is gaining momentum and has limitless room for those interested in getting aboard and beginning a personal journey of exploration. The destination is not a place, but rather an indefinable realm where minds can connect in a shared vision that employs the power of cooperation, co-creativity and ultimately, our God given gift of decision to walk a path paved in forgiveness and surrounded in gratitude. That choice is the starting point of making a difference through common interest and changing the only thing we can in reality: our minds.