Recently, I listened to a spiritual teacher begin his address to an eager, sophisticated crowd of spiritual practitioners pointing to our need to intensify our ability to practice being deeply awake in the middle of our lives and the world. He spoke about our need to discover how to bring the kind of intensity that Tibetan Buddhist monks who meditate 16 hours a day have into our moment to moment existence. His inquiry continued to explore how we might accomplish that and what it would take to approach life with that kind of commitment and focus.
Clearly, it’s a beautiful and useful message. Many of us have followed that injunction and the beauty and benefits are unquestionable. Bringing the sacred into our worldly lives is important. Spiritual embodiment is clearly essential and important to stay awake to. Most people will find the message both new and challenging.
I was surprised by my instant reaction – which was “Who says that’s what I want? Who says that’s what existence wants at this point?” I’m aware that I have a naturally rebellious streak, but this felt different. It didn’t come from some personal tendency or reaction but from someplace else. Its presence was vast and yet personal, whispering in my ear – saying with absolute confidence – ‘Maybe not?’ It was interested in something else.
In fact the idea of exerting the kind of familiar willpower and focus to do exactly what the teacher was pointing do, felt tiring and uninspiring. The moment the heretical whisper came I was filled with delight. I could feel (for lack of a better term) the future, the force, who’s finger beckons those who are paying attention, forward – into something we don’t know… I immediately leaned over and whispered this revelation to my friend and colleague, who burst into life as well. Electricity ran through us both and we had to suppress laughing and crying outright. It wasn’t just the thought – it’s as if some veil was shattered – something had gotten our attention and was moving through us. We could have easily looking inward, paying attention to how to improve ourselves spiritually instead of this force of the future that was pulling us into new, unknown aliveness and revelation.
Collective awakening has begun and many of us are being undone by its force. This cosmic nudge was up-leveling the clarity and power and undoing a fundamental assumption about spiritual work. It felt urgent that we (really) need to be available for something new – something that can happen ‘all together’ – not individuals finding their way alone. Something is saying its going to be entirely different. The model for spiritual awakening that we are unconsciously and unquestioningly still coming from was created thousands of years ago in a world where people walked or rode donkeys to get from place to place and were for the most part illiterate.
After the nudge, I was reading a book by Ilia Delio, catholic nun and Teilhard scholar. In it Ewert Cousins explains that in the first axial period individual consciousness was awakened and developed. He says that the second axial period will be marked by the consciousness of community and relatedness to all of existence. With the invention of computers, cell phones, media communications and air travel we are closer to each other than ever before, sharing a common history. He says that the bridge from one period to the other is just underway – and the bridge builders are called “mutational” persons.
Mutant Evolutionaries! Hmmmm……
Regardless – if you are inspired, try on my new koan and give yourself full permission to ask, “Who Says?” or “Maybe Not?”. And then just be open, look around and wait for the whisper. Something is trying to get our attention.
All One Love, Patricia