Monthly Archives: December 2016
Rob Hopkins on what to do
Many of us are struggling daily with anxiety and questions about “what to do now.” Here are some (abridged) ideas from Rob Hopkins, Transition Towns leader, who wrote recently on post carbon.org:
“It’s an oddly Western notion that compassion and anger are incompatible polarities. Consider the ‘wrathful deities’ central to Tibetan Buddhism – wild, horrific visions who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil. They often carry ritual implements which symbolize wisdom and compassion. On its own, anger is a volatile, unskillful energy. Combined with compassion and wisdom, however, it can be a clear and powerful force. I see it in the work of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, facing militarization and brutality with resolution, strength and compassion. Wrathful compassion is a powerful tool, and we need it now more than ever before.”
Hopkins also recommends that we “dream big and unleash imagination – beautifully and with humor, care, kindness, and compassion…Before and after President Trump, we fetch wood and carry water – build resilient communities, model new futures, create new enterprises, support each other, and build connections. We speak truth to power in calling out the absurdity of economic growth and increasing emissions on a finite and ailing planet. We reimagine and rebuild local economies, weave imagination and playfulness through all that we do, and work to meet our communities’ needs rather than those of big business. We resist racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. We invest differently, tell new stories, and celebrate together.”
Descending into darkness
How appropriate it is that the election of Donald Trump – to many the arch-nemesis of the good – has occurred as we descend into the darkness of Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival behind Halloween. These ancient “pagan” festivals follow the cycles of nature, and in the northern hemispheres Samhain is the time at the beginning of winter, when all is fallow, when we must descend into relative darkness with faith that the sun will return and seeds will grow when the dark time recedes.
I thought of this as I read two articles on rebellesociety.com by Vera de Chalambert. In the first, “Kali Takes New York,” posted on 8-7-15, de Chalambert describes how six days earlier filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and his team projected images of endangered wildlife onto the Empire State Building, “New York’s brightest and most recognizable symbol and capitalism’s earliest totem.” The images culminated with a warning — the face of the Hindu goddess Kali, “the Divine Feminine Maha Shakti, goddess of spiritual death, destruction and resurrection.” Kali, a “fierce protectress of truth (she tells it like it is), beckons us to face the stark reality of the global ecological crisis and let heartbreak be the ground from which we awaken and serve. Never underestimate the power of holy darkness to reveal the Soul of all matters. The dark is where illusions are shattered, false certainties are broken, and the mind is cut off so that the heart can see. It’s time to let holy darkness be our medicine. The world as we know it must change or perish…It’s time to get our Kali on inside and out; to cut off the head and commit to the heart. Kali calls us to rise from our own ashes, take on all our shadows, and serve and protect all life as we would our own child.”
De Chalambert ends by quoting spiritual writer Andrew Harvey: “In preparation for the birth of the Divine, the human race is going through a dark night, which will result in a new humanity, humbled and chastened by tragedy, so that it may open completely to the mystery of divine grace. This dark night can’t be bargained with, explained away, leapt over, or mitigated. It’s the destined crucifixion of a communal human ego now revealed to be suicidal, matricidal, dangerous to itself and to the whole of creation. No one and nothing will stop Kali dancing Her terrible dance of destruction and re-creation. There will be no resurrection of an embodied divine humanity without a systematic, perfectly organized, brutally complete crucifixion of everything in us that keeps us addicted to the systems of illusion that are now rapidly destroying everything.”
De Chalambert’s second article, posted 11-18-16 on the same website, is “Kali takes America. I’m with her.” In it de Chalambert says “it’s really Holy Darkness – the Dark Mother, the destroyer of worlds, oracle of change, the tender-hearted beheader – that won this election. Kali brought down our house in a shocking blow, stripping the illusions of America in a single night. We’re not who we thought we were, and now we must stand in the goddess’s much-needed fires of transmutation. As our collective heart breaks, and our veneer cracks, we stop shining false light and open to more integrity, more truth, more tenderness. We stop trying to be all things for all people. We become one small thing, feigning nothing. The price of true hope, it seems, is being unsettled beyond repair. And this is exactly the opportunity our political moment is presenting.
From all corners of our shocked culture, there are cries of hope, demands of needing to become brighter lights amidst the spreading darkness. I disagree. I think this moment gives us an opportunity for reckoning only if instead of running for the light, we let ourselves go fully into the dark. If instead of resolving our discomfort too quickly, we consider the possibility of staying in the uncomfortable, in the irreconcilable, in the unsettled. Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception. We mustn’t send suffering into exile – the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, and the helplessness are appropriate and must be made welcome. We can’t dismember ourselves to feel better. We can’t cut off the stream of life and expect to heal. In a culture of isolation, be the invitation to everything.
Christian theologian Mathew Fox speaks extensively about the reemergence of the Dark Feminine archetype into our collective consciousness in his piece The Return of the Black Madonna. It’s in darkness, he reminds us, ‘where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies.’
We saw darkness reclaiming its place last week in the passing of Leonard Cohen, our latest biblical prophet. His last and perhaps most spiritually astute album, You want it Darker, is the ultimate invitation into Holy Darkness. Can we swallow the pill of darkness and still say, ‘I’m here, God. Bring it on!’?
The mystics tell us that we must enter the Cloud of Unknowing, the deepest despair, the most profound darkness within, without hope, in order to grow spiritually. They call such a time of deep crisis, of great uncertainty, the Dark Night of the Soul. There, in our radical desperation, in our absolute abandonment, it’s said, the Divine Doctor awaits. The wound is the gift, and this election is a good dose.
Kali is the great protectress and ultimate sacred activist. She’s at Standing Rock, roaring against the black snake and the abuses of corporate capitalism. She marches in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. She’s the changing of the tides, and she means business, having come to burn up the old paradigm of separation and transfigure the collective heart. Kali beckons us to embrace our sacred fury and let our heart roar for all living beings. Like her, we must rise as protectors or perish as fools.
Love is always a disturbing presence. We must disrupt the order of things to obey the orders of Love. Disruptive acts will spread with the fires of truth that Kali’s lit. As the old story of convenience and profit turns to ash, hearts across the planet are aflame for love and justice. Heaven has no fury like the Great Mother scorned.
We must rest in Kali’s darkness, lay heart to the ground as a country, and feel intimately all that’s being unraveled. Every seed must go into darkness, turn inside out, and break open in order to grow.
It’s my prayer that this regression gives rise to a counterculture of grassroots movements the likes of which we have never seen. And to a culture of love beyond measure.”
Reminder: there’s no guarantee of “success” in any of this. Follow your Kali- or otherwise-inspired heart because it feels right to you in that moment. Let go of “hope,” ideologies, being “right” or better than anyone else, and attachment to results. Find your brothers and sisters (potentially, anyone/everyone). We’ll live through this, or we won’t. The Mother will prevail. Align with her.