A cloudy, dampish, cool morning following a perfect spring day. Last evening was cool and clouds were settling in but we grabbed a pizza and had dinner in the van by the marsh. It was capital!
I’ve been thinking about my experiences with the spirits over my lifetime. As much as I do struggle with accepting this, they have consistently said, “It is not about you. Don’t take it personally. Just try to be loving and do what you can.”
Way back in the late seventies when I first worked with shaman, my small cohort of other young people in training was encouraged to dream together. Although we were spread across much of the Northeastern U.S, over time our dreaming became uncannily synched.
One of the central motifs of that dreaming was the rise of Darkness and violence. Many dreams included massive fires resulting from civil unrest. Over time most of us found ourselves physically ill and just plain terrified. It did not help that even then the undercurrent of hatred was rising in our country.
Earlier still, in my mid-twenties, I had been given a vision of the destruction of the Amazon, an experience that sent me spiraling into chaos for several years. The strange thing was that I kept meeting others who had essentially the same vision and who were also completely unmoored. It never occurred to me that the Amazon and its destruction would figure central and personal to my training.
Back further still, I vividly remember conversations in my university cosmology class about quantum mechanics and the inevitability of things. A central tenant of quantum mechanics appears to be that if something is allowed to happen in a universe it will. Events are just not personal.
Of course they feel personal to us. As our country spirals into chaos and violence it is easy to become scared, depressed, and/or enraged, and perhaps more difficult to remember that the universe is enacting experiences and emotions through us. Perhaps it is even more challenging to breath into that. (I’ve had a couple of little sleep nights this week….)
I worry about myself, but more about all those more vulnerable than me, and of course I fret about my family. I cringe at the growing violence and suffering, and I feel generally impotent to address it. Even when I can stop taking it all personally for a moment, I am often overwhelmed by loss.
The Wise One’s across human history have pointed out that we are animals and that our fate is inexorably connected to the fate of all others of all species. Remembering that All Beings are sacred and aware, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is within each of us regardless of status or species is notoriously difficult. Fundamentally we are all One. Yet we humans appear to be programmed to forget that.
We are all, and each, perfect expressions of Nature, our bodies, minds and minds reflecting our life histories. It is when we forget this that we lose track of who we are and may cause great harm to self and others.
(I believe societies with strong oral traditions have better collective memories than societies that depend on writing because the collective past is more present day to day. Forgetting makes us humans terribly dangerous.)
The fulfillment of the ancient dream of a just, kind, compassionate society seems once again to be receding. As I watch the destruction of much I hold dear, feelings of grief, anger, and hopelessness rise and fall like t he tides in the bay.
Remembering that everything is constantly cycling, including the ebb and flow of balance and evil (because cycles are at the heart of Nature) helps a little. Listening to the murmurings of the spirits, their quiet insistence that beauty is everywhere, that breath is healing, and that nothing is personal even as it seems so, also helps.
Of course we still could, collectively, choose a kinder dream. Until then, what might help most is having a community of folks who can sustain us through the harsh times while reminding us that we are loved and the harm directed towards us is impersonal, no matter how much others may try to make it otherwise. May we all have that support, see beauty all around us, and remember to be kind.
2 thoughts on “It’s Not Personal”
Fascinating point about cultures with oral story telling traditions, Michael. You’ve sent my thoughts in a new direction, and this is a good thing.
Jadi, I would love to see where your thinking goes.