just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Invoking our Sensitivity to a Bigger Belonging

Published on 16/11/15
by randy


All of our major spiritual teachers direct us to value and honor life. There’s a demand to love one another, even our enemies. The omnipresence of the divine is the message, which precludes the notion that we’re separate. Yet, it’s of human nature to feed the illusion of our separateness, to gravitate to smaller circles of belonging. We all want validation to our matter. We know we’re here for some reason and we want to make a difference. So what motivates us to action? Where do we find our strength to make what we believe is a difference? How do we honor the commitments to ‘love one another’, to not cause harm.

I write this on the heals of another terrorist attack. Apparently a group of men martyred themselves, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians having a night out in Paris. The nonstop mass media message focuses upon the horror of the event and the evil nature of the group claiming responsibility. The consensus political response is to defeat this group, yet it’s an ill defined group. For centuries, the human condition wrestles with individuals caught in their vulnerability, restlessness, and desire to belong in some way. They are caught in their thoughts and emotions, growing the negative mind with unwholesome desires to harm, even at the expense of ending their own lives. Ancient spiritual teachers and history would advise us to pause and seek understanding. Yet, the French government retaliated with violence and the world stage seems ready and willing to meet violence with more violence on the premise that somehow we can come to peace through feeding hatred with hatred. For me, the truly noble individual respects all life, holds pause and discipline to seek understanding, and forever drills deeper to non-violent solutions. Real exploratory media would do the real investigative work of ‘getting in the shoes’ of the martyr. Rather than strengthening their cause through validating their ‘belief’ in our evil nature, we’d create doubt in their mind about their thoughts.

I continue to be worked by a phrase from two Jesuit physicists quoted by Krista Tippet, “Real faith doesn’t have doubt as it’s opposite. The opposite of real faith is certainty.” Real faith forever has us humbled to how little we know. Real faith gives us strength to embrace uncertainty with wholesome thought. Yet, we’re caught with our impatience. We want things to be the way they were or the way we think they should be. We know that love (wholesome thought, emotion and action) is the single most potent force in the universe. It brings to its proper end every living thing. When we’re centered the transcendent reality enters the person and the center of the human microcosm meets between the human and the celestial realms. This is where spirit lives, where we touch that which offers real faith. This is where our spiritual practice cultivates ever increasing sensitivity to a bigger belonging.

Within the experience of bigger belonging we move past the ‘us vs. them’ thought that feeds revenge. Rather, the focus is upon understanding. We know this is a better way. We speak to the importance of gathering intelligence. Yet, our impatience has us making actions that ultimately make matters worse. Our spiritual intention must always be aimed at helping one another suffer less, even our perceived enemies. Making peace is a dire need of the human condition, even through difficult times like this. We are forever being asked to make peace with the world the way it “is”. The underlying premise to most conflict is, “The world has screwed with me so I have the right to be unkind because someone wasn’t kind enough to me.” The famous research on the topic of ‘forgiveness’, Fred Luskin, says, “It’s like we’re almost being trained to bring hostility forward.” Yet, our spiritual teachers and history show things work out better when we resolve to make the forgiveness start with each one of us. How can we make the events of our life feed kindness rather than using them as an excuse to not be kind?
Governments usually aren’t very good at this work of forgiveness. It takes great strength to acknowledge the harm we’ve caused others, to ask for their forgiveness. Yet, this very act is central to healing, to making whole. Today, we need to get into the shoes of those who would seek to harm us. We need to ask what can be done to stop the momentum of their negative dualistic thought. Can we do anything to help them move to a bigger sense of belonging? It’s not much different than the young gang member so desperately seeking membership. When asked to kill an opposing gang member as an act of initiation, he doesn’t hesitate. Belonging is that important. Suicide bombers and martyrs go back hundreds of years. The French were instrumental in using this practice during the Battle of Algiers in the 1950’s. Karma is a mysterious concept, however, we do know in physics how one force creates an equal and opposite opposing force. Our violence grows further violence. Our kindness grows kindness. Thoughts that break the illusion of our separateness heal (wholesome) our wounds. Thoughts that carry the illusion of separation further deepen wounds. It’s why I believe we make matters worse when trying to frame the world in terms of ‘good’ vs. ‘evil’. Either we follow the mandates of our ancient spiritual teachers and cultivate wholesome thoughts recognizing the bigger belonging that’s beyond dualistic thought or we feed divisive thought that grows greed, fear and our need to be unkind to those we ‘believe’ are not like us.
We need to go to those who desire to inflict harm on us and ask, “I hear you say what you wanted was______________, and what you got was ___________.” We can then reach out in compassion and understanding to hear how the other person is caught in suffering. Can we sit in softness and absorb this fully before we make a bigger mess of things?

When we sit in stillness we bring balance to the moment, we see the wisdom in patience and know that what will come in the future is largely dependent on how we are now. It’s big faith in cultivating big belonging and big hope. It’s feeding wholesome thought, emotion and action.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises itself?

Lao-Tzu, Tau-te-Ching


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