The world did not end yesterday; we have been given a reprieve. How shall we spend it, in denial or in action? With global climate change, near economic ruin, continuing wars, people (children!) starving and persisting diseases, it is not too far fetched to consider that our world is dying and mainly because of us and our chosen lifestyles. In these challenging times, some claim that they have woken up into an enlightened consciousness and way of being. Eckhart Tolle, who wrote a very popular book called The Power Of Now, in 1999, is one of that group.
I have read over half of the book. I connect with some of it; that connection might be because a part of me really wishes that people as individuals are having a positive change of consciousness that will direct them away from business as usual on this planet. I believe our survival depends upon it. But at the same time that I welcome Mr. Tolle's assertions that enlightenment is accessible in every passing moment, I feel wary of anyone who achieves fame and monetary success through such assertions. I believe that such success can overemphasize the importance of one person over others and can lead to a kind of corruption of spirit and message.
And so, as they say in 12 step groups, I will take what I need and leave the rest, which is what I hope all of us do. It does no good to totally accept or reject one person's ideas. No one can live our lives for us, nor learn our lessons; we have to do this ourselves now and always. What I take from Mr. Tolle is what I have taken from other spiritual teachers and that is that it is not the past or the future that matters so much as being aware, and therefore awake, in the present. It sounds so simple and, if you are willing to stop and look about you, it really is simple, but so often we go about in a dream of non mindful doing caught in the trap of questionable thinking.
Mindful action and the ability to watch our thoughts, respect them, but not necessarily engage in them, I believe is what Eckhart Tolle would describe as a "portal" to a higher consciousness. This consciousness would be one that would be beneficial to ourselves, towards others and towards this planet. The more people that tap into practicing mindfulness, the greater our chances of making deeply beneficial changes in the short run and the long run. It takes courage to remain open enough to be mindful. Mindful people are not aggressive, greedy and because they let themselves be aware, they give themselves the chance to act responsibly, instead of reacting thoughtlessly and self-centeredly.
For everyone, self honesty needs to be the basis of the changes that must come. We don't have the time to remain in denial. If you can't sit with the truth at some point during your day, each day, you will remain unconscious and ineffective; perhaps you will contribute to the problems of the day rather than to the solutions. My feeling is we need to pull together and the courage it takes to be honest does create the strong bonds necessary for us to do this. Surely there are enough of us to change the world. In the 1950s there were 3 billion people on earth -- now there are over 7 billion people. We cannot go on indiscriminately procreating, acting as if we have the right to do as we please.
We have thoroughly tested out hatred through wars as a basis for supposedly civilized life, laying claim to imaginary, man made territories and rights. It is my very strong belief that now is the time to embrace peace on earth. What good can really be done without it? The only way I see this being possible is if more people than not stand up individually and refuse to service and sacrifice themselves to the war machine concocted by various "nations". It is simple: if we refuse to fight, there can be no war, even drones need to be made, serviced and sent out by people. The phrase "Just Say No" did not work on the "war on drugs" but it would work if people abandoned the military and put their energies towards saving this planet and the people and life on it.
Do you love this world with its oceans, mountains, plains, valleys, deserts, rivers, forests and streams? Do you love the life that grows and moves across this earth? Can you rise up to the challenge of loving those who it would be easier to hate? Can you cross cultural barriers and rejoice in the wonderful diversity of all of us human animals? Can you chip in and do your part for the love of it? I, for one, have a lot of faith that you can. Despite all the mistakes we've made, our essential spirits are solidly good. I believe in the power of love to conquer hate and the power of love to move mountains if need be. And I'm afraid it is needed, probably more now than at any time in our relatively brief history. We need a global change of consciousness. We need it now, in all of our present moments.