Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fall Follies:Back to the Mideast we go?

The waning days of summer provoke nostalgia and a desire to enjoy one more relaxing day in the sun! Tomorrow is America's day of rest, Labor Day, celebrating the end of summer with one last flip of the bar-b-que'd burger before the turning of the leaves calls us to more serious pursuits.

Once again, the "Fall Follies" begin. On the larger scale there are, again, the drums of war beating 'round the world and predictions of WWIII. Economically, under the surface of happy smiley faces of improving economic statistics are doomsday soothsayers warning of the perfect economic storm about to roll over us like a tsunami. In personal lives, well, "shift happens" and is either in full swing or on the cusp, or so it seems for so many people these days.

Those of us, as I wrote about earlier, who returned from Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village in California are blessed to feel a renewed commitment to our spiritual practices, attitudes, and goals. We have girded the "loins" of our fiery self-control towards inner peace, mindfulness, and devotion to high ideals and to our divine Beloved (in whatever form we aspire or worship).

In the worldwide parallel universe called Ananda, we are growing like tulips in Spring. We have openings in a new ashram house on Camano Island, a new farm in Half Moon Bay, California, new centers in cities throughout India, expanded properties in Oregon, Los Angeles, and much, much more. Ananda Communities and centers are bursting with life, creativity, and inspiration.

But the bubble of joy that is Ananda isn't shared by all. This world is a mixture. It perpetuates itself by constant change and an ever new parade of dramas. After the trauma of the Vietnam War and humiliating defeat there and all the political drama that preceded it and followed it, I thought we'd never again see a foray into foreign country. Well I was wrong: and not just once. Drama and national karma continue until we work things out to another level of understanding and wisdom.

If nations like America can help relieve the suffering and afflictions of those traumatized by civil war in Syria, well, I'm all for it. If yet another despot were to mysteriously bite the dust, well, too bad for him and good riddance. Will it prove effective? Is it righteous, moral, practical? Opinions vary, of course.

The rightness of an action is sometimes difficult to know in advance. Failure to act is still action. Intention plus results (and results can only be known afterwards!) is the best most can hope for. Success, moreover, is not only measured by the intended goal but by the consequences to all concerned: not just physical, but mental and spiritual, as well.

As I felt many summers ago on the eve of America's invasion of Iraq (when most of the country, including both political parties were all revved up and gung ho), I would feel better if other countries who share our values were cooperative. In the case of Iraq, they were not. That still didn't make the invasion or, today, the action proposed by Obama to Congress, right or wrong. But in this complex and interconnected world, it is at least comforting if nations of goodwill band together for a righteous cause. When they do not, it more readily calls into question the proposed unilateral military action. Still, it takes courage to go on alone.. Right or wrong, America has shown that willingness since its very foundations. But when is courage foolishness, or, worse? (Vietnam was supposed to be a limited scope of action, too.)

I, a mere citizen, once again, cannot know more than what we are told, for I have no first hand knowledge. I pray for right intention and right action, no matter what it is. And, that right action includes the welfare of innocent people. No matter what opinion I might hold, it is only an opinion. You and I have the luxury of our opinions, which ultimately are mere beliefs based (probably) on our emotions and predispositions. We do not have the burden of decisions which will, either way, affect the lives of many. Where's Solomon when we need him?

I would rather help people than bomb dictators to hell. But, well, that's my opinion, and, I know its simplistic. It may well be not an either-or, but a both-and. If our country intervenes, I would want it to be one member of a coalition and not, yet again, the U.S. Cavalry. Once again, that would be my hope. Still, I suspect the whole thing is a karmic booby trap or tar baby. Moreover, our national character is prone towards intervention, especially when injustice reigns. (In all wars, profiteering and atrocities exist. Just as people die in war, so too, some people act nobly and others, ignobly. These facts are not, in themselves, justifications for not engaging in a just war, if it be, in fact, just.)

The lineage of spiritual teachers who are my guides (Paramhansa Yogananda, his guru, Swami Sri Yutkeswar, et al) have said that our planet is in an ascending age. It is not a spiritual age but an energetic, restless, and chaotic one. It is a time of great instability. The consciousness of the preceding age lingers still, and holds positions of power in certain places and realms, notably those associated with that prior age: call it the medieval times. Institutions of religion or government which ruled with an iron hand and imposed strict social structures and customs are beset by this newer, more free, more individualistic age. The tribalism, prejudice, and ignorance of that age dictates that those not of your "tribe" are, by definition, your enemy.

As Gandhi and M.L.King, Jr. taught, such institutions and people do not give up their power willingly. It is always a struggle. A dictator who can gas his own people deserves to be shown the door. How and by whom and when? We shall see. Yogananda, before his passing in 1952, made some radical predictions regarding future wars, economic collapse, and natural calamities on a wider scale, it would seem, than we have yet seen. Who know. Best to be prepared! Why, even government officials encourage us to have stocks of food; essential to our well-being regardless of future events is to have a network of family or community; finally, we cannot get "out alive," so faith in a Higher Power linked to a life of prayer, meditation and service expands our identity beyond the ego and thus can help free us from the shackles of fear and suffering.

Perhaps one hundred years from now we will see these mideast conflicts for what they probably are: no, not about oil or energy, or religions, but a clash of consciousness: old and tribal versus new and global. Yes, the characters are mixed bag on all sides, but with the long view of history we may see these skirmishes as the rising tide of global awareness and consciousness sweeping away the old to bring in the new.

Well enough of this talk. My deeper reflection has more to do with the "call of Fall" to get focused. The falling leaves herald a change in the air and we must not linger too long in the past. Whether personally or globally, therefore, "hang onto your 'hat." Be prepared to bid the pleasures of summer "adieu" and get centered and focused around what is important for your life's evolution towards truth and true happiness.

I love the summer and I welcome the fall. But, it's "back to (the) school (of life)" for us! The practice of meditation, prayer, devotion and selfless service, especially in fellowship with others of like-mind, is the single most powerful force for change in this world. The real power for change comes from our soul's oneness in God. Draw on that power in your life and offer your prayers for all those in need in these "interesting" times. Each of us are called to live our lives, however seemingly insignificant to others or to history, with faith, devotion to truth and to Spirit which is all truth, and with integrity.


Nayaswami Hriman