Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller These times, as well as being intense and frightening, are exciting. Running parallel with appalling trends and global situations is the emergence of a new people – a kind of collective transnational, transreligious, transcultural coalition. It is as if the darkness has ushered in the light. Collectively, like never before, people are becoming more informed, more aware, more willing to look at themselves and their situations. Just as Bush, Blair and Howard have merged their national boundaries to justify an endless war, simultaneously, as if in mirror image, our desire for peace and wellbeing has moved outside of national and cultural boundaries, creating a conscious global family. We are the Coalition of the Unwilling.
We are those who are unwilling to live through fear, unwilling to lose our freedom, unwilling to be complacent and blind, unwilling to be manipulated, unwilling to continue sacrificing our children to corporate and political motives and unwilling to continue bleeding our families for the sake of economic rationalism. And we are unwilling to leave anyone behind. Joining the Coalition of the Unwilling means more than taking a stand. It means commitment to radical awakening. It means integrating ordinary life with divinity. And isn’t it true, you have been waiting your whole life for these times? The birth of my first child heralded the beginning of my seeing humanity as divine. Prior to that I found it difficult to love humanity in the face of what we were doing to the world. Divinity was my ticket away from humanity. I kept a distance between spiritual life and everyday life, between form and formless, heaven and earth. In fact, everyday life was nearly a four-letter word according to my spiritually aspiring concepts. Every meditation retreat was an attempt to escape the world and its troubles, especially my own troubles. Then I found myself in India, changing my baby’s nappy and breastfeeding while my fellow seekers meditated to nirvana each day next door. Nearly every time I found a moment to sit in silence, I was interrupted – again to leave the meditation hall to change a nappy, soothe a cry or feed. God, it seemed, would have to wait.
The time-honoured concepts fed to us as seekers, and my own ideas about humanity, created division inside me as a mother. We were told this world is not real, that desire and attachment was the root of suffering and that movement of mind led to ignorance. How could I reconcile this against my desire to melt with my lover, my intense love and attachment for my children and relentless details of family life and schedules that kept my mind endlessly busy? Like everything else in the world, it seemed the world of enlightenment was created for and by men and non-mothers. I thought if God came to me and asked me to choose between Him and my children, there would be no hesitation. “See ya later. Maybe next lifetime,” I’d say. I guess I became a humanist.
I am reminded of the scene in the recent film Samsara, where the monk’s wife confronts him as he flees the dilemmas of his family life to join the monastery. She spoke of the historical prominence the Buddha received for leaving his family in search of enlightenment. ‘Yet we heard nothing of Yasodhara (his wife). Perhaps she wanted to leave him. Perhaps she wanted to leave the family life in search for enlightenment also,’ she points out. But Yasodhara’s heart would not let her leave her children. Even the great religions do not traditionally recognise the profundity of choosing a family life or immersing oneself in the human condition.
There is a Hindu story about the deity Krishna. A farmer lived with his wife and many children in the country. He would spend all their money on offerings to Krishna and all his free time he spent praying to Krishna. If there were a holiday, instead of spending it with the family, he would leave them to work on the farm while he made pilgrimages for Krishna. Because of his devotion to Krishna, he was highly revered in the community. The wife was devoted to her children and to working hard on the farm so they could eat. She was criticised often by her husband, ‘Why don’t you spend more time in prayer or in making pilgrimages?’ he would ask. One day at last Krishna did appear at the farm, himself bringing offerings. The farmer was astonished and fell to his knees. He said, ‘Lord, you have finally come! Surely you are here with your offerings because you have been so moved by my service to you over all these years!’ ‘No,’ replied Krishna. ‘I am here with my offerings because I have been so moved by your wife’s service to her family.’
Service to her family; it was so profound even Krishna had to show up with offerings. This story reveals the sacredness of human life and the divinity of serving it. This is the key to global healing. Unlike this story, religion (original sin, virgin birth) and traditional conceptual spirituality often negate the world, collapsing into escapism and rejecting ordinary human existence. Like religion, corporatisation, too, dehumanises our lives.
The combination of conceptual spirituality or religion and corporatisation has contributed to the increased sense of alienation from our selves and the resulting chaos. Between these two seemingly opposite energies, we as human beings are seen as neither divine nor valuable. We leave ourselves, each other and our families in search of money and what we think is God. The two support each other because as economic rationalism robs us of the ability to experience our selves divinely (i.e. less time with our children, less natural births, less time with our selves) we search for consolation looking for more sophisticated ways to escape the emptiness of our lives. To be a member of the Coalition of the Unwilling means we must see our divinity within a grounded everyday ordinariness. In this we can see our real value and we are therefore naturally compelled to be a part of a conscious movement towards liberation. When we view the world through the lens of divinity, our love for the world translates into passion and uncompromising clarity. This is what these times have afforded us, an opportunity to see that heaven and earth are one and a willingness to get our hands dirty working for change.
Rather than see ourselves as separate people, working on ourselves and changing our own lives or pointing the finger at others, we recognise the mutuality of our lives. We recognise that every small thing we do affects the other and vice versa. We do not live in a vacuum. So who we have become, who our children become is a result of an infinite number of influences, past, present and future. We awaken to a collective responsibility for our future. The Coalition of the Unwilling is a movement that is political, social, psychological, cultural, environmental and spiritual – all of these things wrapped up together inclusively. We might call it Integrated Spiritualism.
So what are the tools to support this journey within the chaos? How can we move ourselves forward as the world seems to be tumbling down around us? I have listed a few ideas and systems that continue to support me in these times, maybe you find they support you too.
Know and heal yourself
Homeopathy, Sand Play therapy, Family Constellation sessions and The Work (www.thework.org) are but a few of the modalities out there that can lend a hand to the healing and self awareness process. My experience with them is that they do not work linearly. For example, one might visit an experienced homeopath about a cough. In that session you might describe your childhood and how you haven’t spoken to your father in 10 years. A day later, after the session, out of the blue, your father calls. Modalities like this are non-threatening, holistic adventures into the interconnectedness of our lives with each other and the natural world.
Make love often
The bond between men and women is empowering and healing. The effects of lovemaking radiate out to everything. Lovemaking is the microcosm that is the macrocosm. When love is made, the children are happier, work runs smoother, the mind is quiet. Make a time each day to spend alone together, just to be. Make it a priority.
Have interesting dinner parties
Invite people over who you can have real conversations with about real issues, personal and global. Invite their kids too, and for once try not putting the children in front of a video so that you are left undisturbed.
Open to what is
Basically, what is happening in this moment is what is happening. If I have some idea it should be different, I suffer. It means that I must open myself to really feel the reality of what is happening, really experience it. They are only sensations. Then, if I choose to do something about a situation, it is free of my personal agenda to change it because I cannot handle the feeling it is giving me. How to reconcile this with what is happening in the world? Being open to what is, is the underbelly of understanding that sits before any movement I may make to change anything. It removes righteousness. The absence of righteousness creates more power for true change, inside and out.
Let loafing around be sacred
Have days with your children where nothing is scheduled, let the day unfold, space out, get bored, lay on the floor looking at the ceiling, pet the guinea pigs. This is the place where souls unfold. Make friends with your parents.
If you can, it is a great investment for all concerned.
Get informed and involved
Hang out with some of the alternative but intelligent news sites on the Web like www.yellowtimes.org or www.alternet.org. Then, start writing letters to the editor, get involved with your child’s school or volunteer for an environmental group.
Be passionate, but unattached to outcomes
The foundation of everything in my life, myself included, is that everything is ok as is. How do I know? Because it is happening. I don’t really know how things should be. No one does. This creates unattachment to outcomes. From this space, I can be passionate about change without the trappings of rage and discouragement.
Make nothing into a religion
There are lots of modalities, teachers and systems out there for self-awareness and parenting. Many of them are useful. None of them are worth hanging on to in exchange for a genuine life genuinely lived. There is no formula to anything real.
Surround yourself with piles of kids
Kids and more kids, when the kitchen cannot be any messier, when things cannot be any more out of control, the let go is amazing.
Be straight with yourself and others
Respect and empower both yourself and everyone in your life by not beating around the bush. Life is short. Time is being wasted.
Whatever it takes to get you laughing, do it. We have fun going to comedy nights. I like when I laugh so hard my stomach hurts!
Everyday rituals are a way to tap into the profound without contrivance. Pancakes on Sunday, coffee in bed each morning, evening BBQs on the beach, this is the stuff memories are made of.
Adopt a big family
One can never have enough grandmas, grandpas, uncles and aunties.
Don’t wait until you are perfect before you become active for change.
People who are out there on the front lines still in their own process are inspiring and real. You have an important role to play. Do not deny us the experience of you.