Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hope for a Better World

I was contemplating an article on meditation but put it aside because no matter how many people state that they are turning off the news, even more are agonizing about it. The sense of uncertainty, fear, and dread is too pervasive to ignore right now.

Let’s start by facing fear in the face. Maybe things won’t be as bad as we fear, but maybe they’ll be worse than we can know. So rather than be merely hopeful; or, in denial; or Pollyannaish, let’s march over to the closet door, open it and face the ghost we imagine is standing there ready to devour us.

Events such as Donald Trump’s election and inauguration are symbolic turning points, yes, but it’s not as if such spring up like mushrooms after a rain. They’ve been a long time growing. I’m not going to pretend I’m a historian or social analyst or have been an avid and educated follower of news or events. But I want to share a mixture of insights from Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple and founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda, and perhaps peppered with a few of my own.

On a practical and political level, I think it is possible that President Trump will survive an eight year term of office. At first I comforted myself by saying “There’s no way that guy can make it for a second term.” Just the other day, however, I put my mind to the test by asking myself: “Who will be his opponent in the next election?” What I came up with is a decidedly weak roster of challengers from either or no political party. Besides, the incumbent always has an advantage. Notwithstanding a predictably long and loud line of protest marches to come, the keys of power and control are in his hands and unlike more balanced or honest chief executives, Trump has no moral compass to rein in his impulses.

Most commentators are likely saying that at first he will consolidate his power base with a hand-picked support team. Fair enough. All newly elected CEO’s tend to do the same. But in this case, what flows from the top is unclean and greedy.

The stock market may be rejoicing at this moment but the odds are great that they will be weeping sometime in the next two to three years.

Real and honest news reporting and analysis probably died with Walter Kronkite, or maybe a little later. But even if it didn’t, we are entering a period of time when self-promotion and self-interest has so become the norm, that whom can the general public trust? Who among the mainline news organizations doesn’t have its own self-interest and profits guiding it? Who among them isn’t being influenced from behind the scenes? We simply cannot know except what we read, hear, or view through the media.

Thus, just as many people are saying  “I’m turning off the news” and going about my life, so many more will simply find the sources of information they feel in tune with, right or wrong, accurate or false, or find the people they want to associate with, good, bad or indifferent. Some will be “deniers;” some will be earnestly seeking the truth; some won’t care; some will “just like” what they like to hear, truthful or not. The fracturing of public opinion will continue to accelerate. This is obviously a continuation of the breakdown of communication such as we have seen in the last many years in Washington D.C. and in state houses everywhere. This trend, this breakdown of “civil dialogue” and shared ideals will continue.

Public disobedience, civil or uncivil, by large groups or by individual government employees in positions of power, will rapidly accelerate. Disruptions of one kind or another, from traffic to government functioning or dishonesty, will become ever more visible and rampant.

These trends will no doubt outlast Trump because their underlying causes (fear, distrust, loss of self-respect, hopelessness, loss of income, etc.) have a long way to run. American cannot be great again by becoming isolationist. The world has gone too far in the direction of interconnectedness and America’s role in the world is far too large, for better or worse.

But one way or another, our nation, and others with us, will suffer greatly: economically, militarily, and in morale, self-respect, hope, confidence and faith in ourselves and our future.

A new way of life and attitudes have been and are unfolding but the old forms, attitudes, and power structures are fighting to retain supremacy. And, for now, they have the purse strings and the jack boots. As Mahatma Gandhi put it, “those in power do not surrender it willingly.”

We will see people of sensitive awareness, intelligence, goodwill striking out on their own in various constructive directions. Others, merely rebellious will “strike out” destructively. But some of it will include the formation of intentional communities of people of like mind. (Most of these will be high-minded, because negativity is generally not cohesive unless it is also coercive.)

9-11 showed us that this nation is not exempt from the wave of violence caused by the fault zone where east meets west in the Middle East. Values, lifestyles, attitudes of old and of new and emerging consciousness meet face to face there. The new (the West) is by no means wearing only white hats. Nor is the old (the east) only bad guys. But the long-term winner is destined to be those, East or West, who accept the humanity and equality of all people and who understand that “all lives matter.” It is not bombs or technology that will win. It is this awakening consciousness. The West has led the planet in this but for now even the West is struggling with going backwards toward tribalism. The war is with hearts and minds, not nations or cultures or religions. The human race will not survive unless the desire for peace and equality survives and wins over tribalism.

Hurricane Katrina showed Americans that we cannot depend on Big Government to save us. Big data has showed us that there is no privacy and that George Orwell’s “Big Brother” already exists.
Mikhail Gorbachev recently posted that he sees the world arming for war, even nuclear war. Swami Kriyananda, our spiritual guide and founder of Ananda, would sometimes state publicly that probably “millions would die” in coming wars, plagues, or “natural” catastrophes (or all three).

None of this sounds very encouraging, does it? And yet I AM hopeful. Indeed, more than hopeful because despite the violence and conflict that is shaping up to take place, it is necessary to usher in a new age of relative peace and harmony. Yogananda predicted that after a time great upheaval, caused in part by what he called (at the time) “international criminals,” humanity would be so sick of war and chaos that the planet would enjoy 200 years of relative peace. Unfortunately for us, he didn’t give any dates! Until recent years these predictions seemed vague to me. No longer. It is clear to me how, even step-by-step, these things could possibly take place. Yogananda predicted that during such times “no place on earth will be safe.”

Of course these can be averted. But just as the major consuming nations cannot agree on how to combat global warming, or even that there IS global warming (America perhaps being the most recalcitrant), so too humanity at large is slow to adopt new attitudes and sustainable lifestyles. If we were to turn “on a dime,” much could be averted. But, let’s face it, most people tend to make sacrifices and difficult changes only when forced or when no other choice exists. Ditto for most nations: the conflicts in the Middle East which have gone interminably are perfect examples. It’s so obvious to billions that they are fighting for no real reason but it’s not obvious to them. (Reminds me of the Irish “troubles” not many years back. No one else could really understand what the fuss was about, but for them it was non-stop killing and revenge. Look at the genocide in Rwanda.)

Millions will turn to faith, especially through meditation and with the support of other meditators and organizations like Ananda. And this, really, is, in essence, the divine relief and succor being extended through the yoga masters to the world. This is the opportunity to turn within and to do so in cooperation with others to form a phalanx of awakening consciousness which will be the real force for change. Issues like global warming, racism, exploitation, gender, religious or national discrimination will dissolve like morning fog under the sunshine when millions, nay, billions, meditate daily, seeking inner peace when none exists in the outer world.

We will not be passive, closing our eyes to shut out the world. We will close our eyes to draw on inner, divine resources of strength, courage, compassion and wisdom. With eyes wide open, we will work with others, whether in protest marches, in helping and welcoming the hurt and injured, and in developing sustainable resources and lifestyles for the time when humanity will embrace them en masse.

“There is no god, but God. No good, but God.” Tat twam asi (Thou art THAT); “Do not your scriptures say, ‘Ye are gods’?” Our divine Self is guiding open hearts and clear minds to give birth to a new understanding of reality and nature: all aspects of the divine avatara (descent) into manifestation.

March with joy; march with God! There is, as the title of one of Swami Kriyananda’s 150 books declares, “Hope for a Better World.” At Ananda in Seattle our affirmation for 2017 is: “I stand calmly amidst life’s storms. Strength and courage fill my body cells.”

Swami Hrimananda 

A friend and local Ananda member (from India) sent in this comment and link. It's not for the feint at heart but it is interesting.

Great article!! Lot of saints in India have predicted about these difficult times and peaceful time thereafter.Here is an article that gives more indepth information about these