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

Big Problems Require Big Hope

Published on 22/09/11
by randy

It’s pretty easy these days to feel like the sky is falling.  Actually, the news is filled with stories about space debris falling to earth today.  The global stock markets are falling.  The state of Georgia just executed a man who’s guilt was in doubt, turning a deaf ear to the Pope and to former President Jimmy Carter.  Our summer weather events have smashed records since before we started taking record.  Our elected leaders seem less capable of holding a conversation than any time in previous history.  Our church leaders seem more committed to holding silence to this turmoil.  And here we are, facing the next moment, directed to find our solid grounding.  Economic turmoil, war, health care crisis, and on and on it goes, change works its way and deepens us to find our spiritual strength.  These are all very big problems, but I’ve always liked the hope found in the statement, “When the problems seem big, you’ve got to get bigger than the problems.”  So how do we accomplish this?

I’ve found great relief in discovering the fact that there never is any such thing as complete resolution.  Tempted as we may be to ‘do’ what we think is ‘fixing things’, the risk of mucking it up further through our efforts is great.  As soon as we think ‘our map’ is the correct one, we’re tempted to persuade others to agree with us.  We can adopt a notion of being ‘right’.  Yet, the actual territory is far too complex to ever lock into our notion of understanding.  It’s why I like education and religion that always speaks to deeper questions rather than to fixed answers.  It’s why I like moving from the heart rather than from the head.  In the midst of big problems, we’re humbled to the mystery of life.  In the throws of trouble, oftentimes the best thing we can do is simply ask the question, “What can we do?”, and then deeply listen to one another.

After studying interpersonal communication for forty years I’ve seen how our refusal to listen to another is often in reality a violent act.  Our attempts to fix, change, and persuade another to our view of the world most certainly have an underlying dimension of violence.  In times of big problems, it seems best to deepen to faith.  This is a deeper faith that gives us grounding to support that’s far beyond our limited scope of perceptions, thoughts, emotions and consciousness.  It’s a deeper knowing that goes from small hope to Big Hope.  When the surface of the ocean is thrown about by wind and wave, can we hold our grounding to the floor of the ocean?  Can we find our strength and solidity in knowing we’re all interdependent on one another?  Some amazing things happen when we can shift from our perceived cleverness of mind to the humble confidence of the heart and deep spiritual confidence, knowing we are each other.  Suddenly we get bigger than our differences.  We get bigger than our nationalism, political party, social class, religion, race, gender, etc.  I’ve heard several friends recommend silence when tempted to conversations about religion or politics.  This often is a best course of action in the presence of someone addicted to their particular map of the territory.  Yet, in the throws of big problems and deep fear of a falling sky, we must start the conversation.  We must move from the nonproductive format of debate to honest dialogue.

Last night I watched a TV show I hadn’t seen before.  ‘Modern Family’ had received five Emmy’s last week and my curiosity got the best of me.  The dominant theme was showing the tragedy/comedy found in our attachments to a sense of being ‘right’.  I hope more artists can help us cultivate humility to our false sense of knowing.  A deeper sense of wonder and awe will help us move more mindfully, dedicated to minimize the harm we may cause from holding to our beliefs.

I admire people whose love and compassion are palpable.  There are great spiritual beings walking amongst us who seem to do better at smashing the illusion of duality.  They raise my vibration.  I’ve briefly touched the deep heart, finding a peace that dissolves the pain from a restless mind.  And then, I get frustrated because I want more of this and the pain grows.  Fortunately, I’ve learned that you can’t stay in this space.  Katagiri Roshi says we can just bounce.  Touch it and bounce.  He says we grow our faith through the return to the dualistic mind from that deep peace.  The very knowing that we are One gives us the faith to handle big problems.  The very knowing that we are One gives us strength to face imminent change.  It gives us the power to let go, to make space to find the gift in the given.

This work of holding stability in the face of a falling sky is courageous work.  It commands the strength of vow.  The more we practice the more we extend the experience of the bounce.  It’s beyond words, thought, emotion and perception.  It’s re-membraning back to the Divine within all.  It’s what drives us to find our common sense.  From here the questions change.

  1. How do we work as a community, nation, planet to foster deep care and stewardship for one another?
  2. How do we create programs that meet one another in our suffering?
  3. What can we do to foster a deeper appreciation for our opportunity to walk the earth?
  4. What can we do to not harm others’ opportunity to walk the earth?

The questions change dramatically when driven through love, compassion, generosity, faith and forgiveness.  They change when we move from the dualistic mind stuck in ‘win/lose’ maps.

So what’s the gift in big problems?  It helps us see the need for an open, creative mind.  It humbles us to the need for a deeper faith.  It’s what gives us confidence to face all our problems with the stability needed to move through them.  It helps us deal with the nature of uncertainty from grace and compassion.  Perhaps we need to change the names of our political parties to Open vs. Closed.  Then, perhaps we could call a spade a spade on those who refuse to dialogue.

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