Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
So, there it is. A total wipe out.
For now, let’s stop battling and shoring up strategies. Instead of floundering around for certainties, for pockets of hope, let’s accept the invitation into something else. That is, a profound stripping away. The world that was, that we knew, that perhaps we loved, is fast being mutilated. Right now I’m not sure the United States of America will survive. I am not sure the United Kingdom will survive. Neither am I sure Europe or South Africa will survive. Certainly Iraq, Syria, and many other places have not survived. Actually, I’m not sure anything will survive in this age of climate mass extinction and nuclear codes in the … well, you know… the full catastrophe of the small handed one.
So, as we enter into solstice week, the encroaching night at the heart of seasonal shifts, let’s not run from defeat, but welcome its bitter medicine. Let’s taste helplessness, futility, exhaustion, confusion, upset, devastation, pain, abandonment, and the fear of not knowing if we will survive. This, friends, is what many others have felt before, (Chile’s stolen C.I.A election). This, is what many are experiencing in far, far more deadly ways right now (Aleppo.) And this, is what some have gone through with horrific pain and at high speed, (Oakland housing crisis & Ghost Ship fire)
Yes, we can draw together and warm ourselves in like-minded company, but not to exclude the encroaching night, instead to encourage our entry into its deeper teaching. Like therapy, usually we have to feel our deepest wound, the pain of it, before we can begin to circle back into health.
The pain we feel is the removal or our illusory comfort zone where we thought everything was sort of OK. But as everything is not OK, we need the curtains pulled back. Behold, the psychopathic, heartless gaze of the deadly machinery of predator oligarchic colonial capitalism. Behold its decaying, soulless, craven, narcissistic, violent, and ugly face. It’s sheer lack of beauty, grace, sanctity, poetry, love, and wise counsel. This machinery is set to destroy everything for profit and power. Before we can take it on anew, we have to fully get the depth of its utter moral and spiritual bankruptcy. It’s total lack of humanity. We have to FEEL, not just intellectualize. This is so we can really get those already sacrificed to its relentless agenda.
So, we have a new curriculum. One that many marginalized, oppressed, and vilified people have already been schooled in. One that the Indigenous Peoples of Standing Rock know well, which is why so many were pulled to go there, like moths to a glowing light. We needed their courage, their guidance, their deep understanding of sacred resistance for these times.
We will also need everything learnt from our spiritual practice. Ajahn Chah said that practice is preparation for when real challenge arises. That preparation is over. Now is show time. We may not be in perfect shape, we certainly won’t be in perfect shape, but if we undergo the stripping down of this solstice devastation, if we can hold to each breath in order to track this unlit pathway; we will be taken into the sanctuary of our unshakeable, indivisible, brilliantly sane, undying, and loving heart. And it is this true heart that will save us. With this heart, tuned to the deeper intelligence of the Dharma, the spirit, we will be ready for whatever is ahead. Together, we will get through this.
The Ending of Hope
washing away bridges
into chaotic descent.
Ice melt, ocean rise, land erodes,
and certainty makes no sense.
Blind election vortex
schemes twisted thoughts
conspire and distract
within intensifying solar fire.
and the next,
in that unguarded pause,
hope waits its constant song
where angels soothe
and breathe their shining
along uncertain pathways.
Their voices lilt high
over fields of desolation.
For all times, they say,
we are the holders of your dream.
The whispering seed planted,
the remainder of your journey
through the bleakest watch of night.
So, invoke angels appearing
within this shattering world,
dragging the light
into shadow kings
that march fear along
highways of predator folly
and perpetual toxic news.
But, when even hope vanishes,
and what can’t be won
disturbs our waking nights.
Then, in that ripe hour,
distant bells will summon
our hallowed dissension.
As jaws soften and hands open,
prayer turns to a new dimension.
The movement beyond city voices.
A gentle wind that blows so quiet.
A silent singing from this turning earth.
A calm knowing of life’s worth.
The dream of this fevered longing
will wake us up cold.
There is a knowing within each breath
that keeps this holy world gathered
within spheres of our communion
Here we always are,
moving in the ancient stillness
with fluid steps tracking
our one recurring song.
It echoes across the halls of destruction and creation,
this timeless breath with you, my love.
It’s a long, cold, lonely night.
— Thanissara, Dec 19th, ‘16