Radical sustainability beyond the illusion….
Radical means getting to the root of it. Illusions are shattered when we get to the heart of the matter….and so by being radical in our approach to life we find that we can uncover artificiality which may cloak our ways of attending to our selves, each other and our wider neighbourhood.
‘The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.’ – Goethe.
Learning to love our selves and each other is perhaps the most important task that lies before us. Put another way, the beginning of any new paradigm ought to be grounded in love if it is to be authentic and seek to replace old ways with truly fresh, new ways beyond current illusions.
Here are five tips or pointers that may help remind us to remain flowing within the tides of love:
– Empathy: the ability to put our selves in the other’s shoes by feeling the context of the other and understanding their perspective. This allows for a reaching out and meeting of the ‘other’ which is the essence of love. It requires us to imagine the other’s situation and so asks us to shift from knowledge to wisdom – our wisdom grows through empathy.
– Forgiveness: the ability to no longer hold-on to negative judgement of the ‘other’ and harbour resentment. This does not mean to say that what the ‘other’ has done is ‘right’ or ‘good’ in some way, but rather, we can acknowledge the problem and forgive the person for their actions, accepting them as they are, freed from pre-conditioned perspectives. Empathy and acceptance greatly help with forgiveness; all of which are crucial for wise living.
– Presence: to be fully present in the here and now of the moment is to open up to the ground of love in our midst. To truly listen, for instance, when we are conversing; to give the ‘other’ our full, undivided attention is to open up to love which then allows an authentic relation of reciprocity and trust to emerge – the beginnings of any new paradigm happen right here, right now with the birthing of each interrelating moment.
– Generosity: to recognise that giving to others is actually a gift to our selves and all of life is to recognise that we are all connected and all our actions have reactions. And so we can either consciously provide gifts to others (which also makes us feel good, not in a smug way that gives only to be perceived as ‘good’ by others, but in an authentic way of contributing meaningfully and from the heart, which may initially ‘put us out’ or ‘cost us’ yet with hindsight provides for richness beyond measure) or we can try and keep things for our selves in-so-doing create an environment that mirrors that scarcity and sense of separation. Charles Eisenstein is a good example of a modern-day story-teller who explores the profound power of giving.
– Small steps: it is the little things, the small acts of kindness that allow us to transcend the illusory barriers to love. In the profound words of Mother Teresa ‘You can not do great things, you can only do small things with great love.’ Small things with great love sow the seeds of the new paradigm. By way of example, I recall, when I was younger, jogging past a worm pulsating rhythmically and beautifully as it made its way across the road in front of me one early morning, and I thought, ‘I wonder if I should help the worm cross the road as she may get trampled underfoot or under wheel?’ I left him/her unaided as I continued my jog by, busy in my own world of thoughts to do with ‘matters of consequence’. Soon after, a car zoomed passed me and something inside me made me jog back to where the worm was just to check and see if she was OK…alas the rhythmic pulsating was now a frantic, bloody, seething, wiggling mess, and I felt compelled to put the worm out of misery.…from then on when I pass a snail, or slug, or worm crawling along the road I gently (and with love) bring them over to the other side of the man-made hazard… Does it matter? How does that small act have any meaningful impact or consequence on the plethora of challenges humanity now faces? It matters to that worm, and the one before….just as the small acts of kindness in the local store, down the street, on the underground, or in the office provide a moment from love to flow into life beyond the illusion of separation. This is the beginning – small steps with love.
I do not delude myself that acting with and through love is not a constant challenge for me, yet it is a challenge that turns me on rather than switching me off. It provokes the opportunity for me to catch myself and wake-up to the present moment. I often ‘miss the boat’ but the boat is still worth trying to catch….otherwise, quite frankly, what on Earth are we doing here….getting in the way or going with the flow?
If we are really honest with ourselves, we may begin to see that the barriers to love are self-imposed preconditions and prejudices, albeit often culturally induced, yet ultimately held-on to by our self. And so, radical sustainability begins with the self. Waging a war on: terror, carbon, poverty, cancer, bullying, consumerism, etc. deals with downstream ramifications and often approaches the problems with the same things that created them (the clue is in the ‘waging a war’ attitude which is hardly an attitude rooted in love).
Life’s destiny = learning to love…..learning to love our selves (our conscious and unconscious depths of mind, heart, body, soul), to love each other (relating authentically through our quality of attention in opening up to the reciprocity of life), and to love Nature (the matrix of life itself, the cosmic womb of our being and becoming, the all-pervasive presence flowing through and beyond us)…this is the magic of radical sustainability and it needs no money, no manipulation, no hurry, no worry, no stress, no fear….and yet magically provides for our serenity, courage and wisdom.
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