Dancing in the Tao

Growing Peace


We all believe and act like we have more important things to do.

We tell ourselves that if a peaceful world is even possible, which we doubt, then it’s the responsibility of government and leaders to bring about such peace.  But, as my sons like to say, that’s not how anything works.

Each and every one of us has a contribution to make toward the healing of our world. Everyone. The horror that is playing out on the world stage is a direct consequence of us refusing to step up and play our small part. Each and every one of us is special and unique. Our perspectives, our voices, our efforts, the healing of our individual histories are all required in order to evolve into true human beings, together.

It is easy to nitpick and fault find. Easy to complain about all the ways we’re getting it wrong and despair about the future. Easy to blame the other people. But it’s not so much harder to find the things that we’re doing right, small though they may seem, and build on them.

It doesn’t actually take more effort to share the news we find of positive steps that are being taken in our communities and to step with them.

I’m not advocating for a chorus of Pollyannas. We need our truth tellers crying out about the horrors and injustices and inequalities we need to address. But rather than simply forwarding on their cries, we each need to listen and to hear. We need to imagine even a small gesture that could change our present reality for the better, and then identify steps that can be taken toward that gesture. We need to reach out to one another and to the leaders of our communities and our nations and insist on the small but meaningful step in the right direction. Then we implement, together, what we have imagined. Rinse. Repeat.

Imagine humanity as an arrow arcing through time toward an ever more perfect world. Imagine more and more people focusing their sights on peace, justice, equality and then enacting this aim in their lives. Imagine small changes growing into larger ones, until even the skeptics and cynics could see the impossibilities transform before their eyes.

As our charming Mr. Einstein once said: “Imagination is everything. It’s the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Imagine a better world. Pray, asking for help. Then Act.

We can do this. My heart sings with the knowledge that we can do this.


Lowering our masks










Some thoughts on David’s post over at Raptitude:

We are 99% unknown to ourselves beneath that mask.

Who we know as ourselves is made up of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Where do we get these stories? We collect them from a very small sample of our experiences, often giving the greatest weight to the ones that were traumatic, the ones that hurt. They left the deepest impressions.

To cover the vulnerability we feel in the wake of these stories, we create masks. We grow up thinking there will come a time when we can take them off, but then we somehow simply merge with everyone else in believing life is some kind of perverse masquerade where everyone’s stuck in ill-fitting costumes, ill fitting masks. Forever.

Beneath our masks we keep hurting, and in our pain we hurt one another. Trauma begets trauma.

And make no mistake, we’re all multiply traumatized now. Conscious of it or not, the every-kind-of-pain humans are inflicting on one another around the world at this moment has its impact on every one us, on our hearts, on our minds, on our hopes, our dreams.

When we’re playing off each other’s masks, we exist in a fictional universe, everyone pretending to be something they’re not. We’re perpetually stuck ‘responding’ from mask to mask. Any claim about reality, about who humans are or what we’re capable of is all based on fictions. We have absolutely no idea who we would be if we all really showed up. We have no earthly idea of what our planet could be like.

We’re not condemned to this, though, it’s just what we’re agreeing to do right now. In actuality, our potentials for true response-ability exceed our wildest imaginings.

What we need to be able to see, together, is exactly what David is pointing at: This is our shared story, and we can help one another. When we begin to lower our masks with each other, revealing our mutual vulnerability, the whole world changes. In an instant. Because the 99% of ourselves that we’re not aware of contains vast potentials for intelligence and responsiveness that we can’t activate by ourselves. We need to play together! Authentically. Truthfully. Intimately.

This is the growth edge for us humans, and there is a growing number of us ready to risk being traumatized again, to trust enough to step out. We can do this.

How we experience ourselves in any moment depends on the uncountable influences and connectivities of that unique moment, only the tiniest sliver of which we have any awareness at all. In a very real and practical sense, we arise in response to each unique moment.

When we drop our masks at last (and this becomes more contagious as it rolls on!) the fictions fall away. We begin in each unique moment to actually respond to real, actual people in our real, actual world with and for each other, and for this incredible living mystery we call the universe.

O, and I’m not suggesting everybody suddenly gets vulnerable with everybody: we just begin by deepening our closest relationships, and then small groups of deeper relation grow naturally.

We’ll wonder what took us so long.

Following Desire


Yesterday, I felt strong and clear. Last night, another battering: waves of thought and feeling swept away both strength and clarity. Today I’m once again clear, but worn and weak.

I’m out on a storming ocean in a small vessel. One moment, a great wall of water rises up, encircling me, closing in, and that’s reality: My imminent demise. Then, suddenly, lifted on a swell, I see to the horizon in every direction; reality now vast and chartable, if only apparently calm in the distance. My best practice, my only practice at these stormy moments, is to keep myself in the boat, my hand on the tiller. After a lifetime of going wherever the current took me (asking no more of life, or of myself, than whatever showed up), I have a direction at last. It may prove a figment of my imagination, but it’s a destination nonetheless – and it’s about time I tried to get somewhere.

I am following my heart’s desire. For better or for worse, I’m all in. I’m laughing as I write this, because there are no guarantees. In fact, if you’re laying down money the best odds, by far, are against me.  Yet, I persist. Despite a beguiling kaleidoscope of shifting thoughts and emotions about it all, I have a steady desire; and even though the object of my desire may remain forever out of my grasp, my dogged pursuit is calling forth the best of me, and I’m learning mad skills.

One of the most useful new skills: holding my thoughts and feelings more lightly in my mind. After some time of paying attention, I see how changeable and insubstantial they are, arising and subsiding on their own tides, in response to whatever shows up around me, or perhaps what I ate most recently. I can have back-to-back thoughts that completely oppose one another, cancel each other out; yet both are accompanied by supporting, corresponding emotions that lend to each opposing thought an apparent weight and truth. Which of this shifting phantasmagoria should I follow? Oops, too late. They’re both gone … replaced by a third, fourth, hundred-and-fifth, on and on. A kaleidoscope makes a lousy compass.

AstrolabeDesire is a slightly less faulty compass, both because it arises from a deeper place within us and because it endures the buffeting of thoughts and emotions. Whatever you may think or feel about your desire, it keeps coming back. But desire is an intensely problematic compass. First, as noted, there are no guarantees. Co-opting Lord Krishna’s words to Arjuna: You’re entitled to your desires, but not the fruits of your desires. Desire can focus and motivate us, but it makes no promises. We may never get the job, the person, the house, the dream, the nirvana … and, if you’re going to use desire as a compass, you have to accept this going in, or make your peace with it as quickly as you can. Otherwise, you suffer. Well, and this is the second point: you’re going to suffer anyway. As the Buddha said, The root of suffering is desire. And the greater your desire, the greater the suffering. No doubt. Best, probably, to move right along … if you can. Uncurl the fingers of your heart and release whatever it is you wanted back to Life.

But! But! But! you say. I know. Whatever you may think and feel about your desire, it can be a pesky, persistent thing. Let go though you might, there it is again. Like an adorable, aggravating puppy. So my goal, at present, is to keep the focusing, motivating force of my desire alive and leaping in my heart, while accepting that this is all I am entitled to.

Wish me luck.

Illustration credit