Friday, 21 May 2010

Compassion with a Capital 'C'

Compassion is something I thought I knew quite a lot about.  I give lots of second, third and fourth chances, I almost never hold a grudge, I mutter a prayer when my cats bring me dead mice, I ALWAYS give money to buskers (street musicians for you non-Brits) and I USUALLY buy The Big Issue from homeless guys.  This is fairly generic stuff, as is getting a lump in the throat when watching TV charity appeals for the latest tragedy on the globe (be it a tsunami, earthquake, or famine), or welling up at the plight of abused animals, neglected orphans and casualties of war.  In most cases you can do your bit without leaving your sofa or really getting involved - that's compassion with a small 'c.'  But what I'm interested in is compassion with a capital 'C." Let me explain.

Recently I was complaining to a trusted advisor about the unthinking behavior of a loved-one.  I expected to receive some sympathy or commiseration, but instead they asked,  "Can you feel compassion for the wounded part of them that drives them to behave like that?"  I had never considered this before.  Generally speaking I see the distasteful behavior of those around me as character flaws at best (including my own) or stupidity and meanness at worst (got to hold my own hand up here as well.)  Did I feel compassion?  No, I most certainly did not.

But over time, that question began to work its magic - my inner landscape shifting to accommodate it.   I spent an evening with someone who couldn't stop drinking and I wondered what old hurts might be so bad that they needed to be numbed with alcohol?  I saw a woman shouting at her kid in the grocery store and wondered about the inner pain that might be fueling her rawness.  I pondered the defensiveness of a friend - what makes her so vulnerable yet rigid?  I felt my heart ache for the kinds of on-the-ground, up-close-and-personal types of old wounds that fuel my own short fuse, my judgment, my fear.

True compassion with a capital 'C' will change not only the way you regard your own pain, but also that of the alcoholic in your life, the belligerent neighbor, the hooded youths hanging out on the corner, or the undependable friend.  And it also means being willing to be honest with them - to trust that they can handle the truth and consequences of their behavior.  Big 'C' compassion might be tough love in one case, or just a knowing hug in another. You can't do that with a victim of a natural disaster. 

This is foreign territory for me, but I'm beginning to get my bearings.  It is a landscape you are familiar with?  I invite you to explore this space for yourself - let your heart be your compass.  For as the Buddha said, "In separateness lies the world's great misery, but in compassion lies the world's true strength."

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dr. Demartini - Jedi Master?

The person who has most influenced my thinking these past few years has got to be Dr. John F. Demartini. You might say he is my own personal Yoda. The good Doctor teaches that all of nature, including human nature, is composed of equal pairs of opposites - night/day, birth/death, war/peace, kind/mean, happy/sad, etc. And like the polarities of a magnet, you can't have one without the other - they cannot be separated for each is inherent in the other. Take, for example, the issue of war and peace. They are indivisible, for if you are "for" peace and "against" war, aren't you at war with war? What's more, these pairs of opposites are ALWAYS in balance, it's just our lopsided perception that says otherwise.

Dr. Demartini developed his ideas from studying physics, among other things, where principles such as The Law of Conservation of Charge Parity state that positive and negative can neither be created nor destroyed - only changed in form. These principles underlie all physical events, and ultimately, he hypothesized, human perceptions and actions.

I took to Dr. Demartini's teachings like a duck to water because it engaged that part of me that knows this instinctively - that nothing is out of balance, ever. He says that if we go through life looking for more support than challenge, more praise than criticism, more good than bad, we will always attract the opposite of what we seek as nature strives to keep the equilibrium. (We could have an entire discussion just about depression and its role in balancing perceptions in a culture that holds"positive thinking" as the gold standard.) This is classic duality, with a twist. The twist being that there is no battle of good and evil being waged, only an endless dance of opposites.

From our tiny human perspective it is easy to get angry when we don't get our own way - when we focus on one half of the duality and ignore, or can't see, the big picture. It's like the ancient Sufi story about the blind men and the elephant - because each man felt just one part of the elephant, they were all wrongly convinced that they knew what it was - a snake, a tree, a rope, a spear.

Ultimately it's our choice if we want to stick with our 'blind men' version of events, or choose to accept that there might be more than meets the eye to any given situation, and thus not go into judgment about how things are (or aren't). The beautiful thing is that if you dare to glimpse the perfection - the center point between the opposites - you feel nothing but gratitude for this rather miraculous truth. In Dr. Demartini's own words:

Between positively and negatively charged
particles is a center point of light.
Between positively and negatively charged
emotions is the center point of love.

Dr. Demartini opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing. He showed me that when you stop fighting with the world and with yourself, it is possible to move through life with grace, power and purpose. And if that's not the way of the Jedi, I don't know what is.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What's all the fuss about 2012?

More often than not I am met with blank stares when I make comments such as, “let’s just wait until 2012!”  Hollywood disaster movies, the London Olympics and Obama's re-election aside, I’m amazed that so many people have not heard about 2012.  Perhaps you are one?  Read on.

The Mayans, clever clogs that they were, devised a very accurate and complex calendar that simultaneously keeps track of several time cycles, including the moon (28 days), sun (365 days) and the ‘sacred’ cycle of 260 days (human gestation period).  A full trip around the Mayan calendar (otherwise known as The Long Count) is equal to 13 periods of 144,000 days each.  And since most scholars agree that the beginning of this Long Count was August 11, 3114 B.C.E., the thirteenth and final cycle will come to a close on precisely December 21, 2012.  THAT is what all the fuss is about.

What will happen on that day is open to speculation.  And, as with most things, we can view the cup as half full or half empty.  In other words, it’s either the end, or the beginning.

The end?

Although there isn’t much evidence left from the Mayan civilization to suggest that they themselves thought the world would end in 2012, there are many doomsday types who have jumped on the Armageddon bandwagon.  This cheery theory says that when the cycle ends, time will cease and the world will end in any number of ways, none of them very pleasant.  (Makes me think of the “would you rather be boiled or fried” conversations we had as kids.)  Will the earth be wiped out by a giant meteor or asteroid?  Will the sun flare up and cause the planet to explode like a huge kernel of microwave popcorn?  Will the there be a “pole shift” where disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field cause the planet to literally tilt, thus triggering catastrophic earth quakes, volcanoes, storms and floods?  Pick your poison, unless you happen to believe in The Rapture – the resurrection of all Christians that will be triggered by the return of Jesus Christ.  (They'll be floating safely back to heaven.)

The Beginning?

The other viewpoint is that whatever shift occurs, it will be of the inner variety (i.e. human consciousness) rather than the physical kind.  Many religious and esoteric traditions point to a time of peace and prosperity where humanity overcomes its own worst enemy – itself.  Whether viewed as a general rise in human awareness (from duality to oneness perhaps), an evolutionary leap, or a burgeoning awareness of higher dimensions, this camp seems to be betting on change for the better.  The general consensus is that this ‘new age’ will be ushered in with some help from either extra-terrestrials (as portend by crop circles and increased UFO activity), heavenly intervention (angels, ascended masters, the Virgin Mary, etc.,) or by the bombardment of earth by new and powerful energies/vibrations emanating from the centre of the universe itself. 

All is not sunshine and roses however, as increased vibration rates could prove fatal to those who are either unprepared or who cling to old ways - every rose has its thorns.  (Although some might secretly delight in the idea that those who are lower on the totem pole, so to speak, won't be around to ruin the party!)  Personally, I wonder if the rise in extreme-isms of all sorts, as we are witnessing now, is an unconscious reaction to change? Whatever the source or the outcome, resistance is futile. Come what may, I think we’re in for a wild ride into 2012 and, hopefully (gulp), beyond.

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Want to learn more?  For an in-depth look at the Mayan Calendar click here.
For some weird and wonderful "spiritual" 2012 theories (Cell regeneration and the reversal of ageing?  Bring it on!) click here.
For some fascinating and more science-based views click here.
For a bit of entertainment watch this.