The other is now us

All of the things we are going through right now are things that were already going on across the globe (hunger, sickness, loneliness, loss of jobs, loss of homes and many more deeply sad things). The only difference is that right now as a planet, we are going through it together and as a result we are having to look at it together.

That is the tragedy and the opportunity of this moment. The other is now us. And we realise that we are now the other. There is nothing like a common ‘other’ to bring people together.

Interestingly, the only way for us to get through this is through coming together. Through joint action. Through compassionate togetherness.

What is required of us is repetitive daily action and acting in a way that protects the most vulnerable. To act in a way that sees the ‘other’ as ‘us’.

It reminds me of the poet saints of India who democratised prayer through gathering everyone in the community to sing together – and thus the Bhakti Kirtan movement began. At the time only the rich were allowed to enter the temples to pray. The poet saints of India knew that you did not need a church or temple to have faith, an inner relationship with the divine. So many of us in the west have been programmed to be so self focussed that that is all we see. We live in a way that takes so much for granted. Food, nature, health, life. Together, we are all being forced to look at all of those things at the same time. We have been halted to a stop.

We are being called to acknowledge our separateness through keeping our distance. We are being called to notice all we have taken for granted. We are being called to recognise how we are privileged. We are being called to protect the most vulnerable. We are being called to unite together through going in, in, in.

Anyone who has been on the spiritual path for a little while knows that it is times such as these that our spiritual practice holds us. Not all, but most of us in the west who have not grown up with faith are only called to daily devotional practice through some tragedy, crumbling or loss. Through life ripping something away from us and us finding ourselves desperately reaching for something to hold onto. Through finding yourself in a moment where you need to believe in something in order to carry on.

All of my teachers count on their devotional practice for that reason. Personally it is the only way that I have found to find a sense of safety and holding throughout the extremes of life. It is when I feel most alone, most scared, most angry, most frustrated, most hurt that I need my practice to hold me the most. In fact, many of my greatest teachers and peers count on their devotional practice to withstand both the highs and lows that come with being a conscious human.

I believe that nobody is immune to these extreme, changing times. And make no mistake, they are extreme changing times. For we are living in the throes of labour as we usher in a new age.

Together, we are in the midst of a global awakening. And the thing about the awakening process is that it is very rarely effortless and pretty. In my experience and in witnessing others during theirs I have come to see that it requires a crumbling and letting go of the way things were. And that is not easy.

Instead of finding meaning in the external world we need to find something to hold onto that will not crumble. Eventually we realise that the only place to find that something is to search deep, deep within.

And so if prayer, if chanting, if meditation, if dancing, if poetry, if mantra holds you and delivers you even the slightest peace, then go there, do that, over and over again. Do whatever helps you keep your heart open. You will be most helpful that way. Keep showing up and being held by that place that never crumbles and is always ever constant. Do whatever you can to rest in the space of grace.

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