Image by Christine Engelhardt
The irony of anyone standing firmly resistant to change is that we awaken into a brand new world every day. We call it the universe, and it’s never the same place twice. In our universe, though, the changes happening all around us are either so constant we take them for granted or so slow and imperceptible we fail to notice them.
Indeed, we use alarm clocks and artificial lighting to “conquer” the limitations of our planet’s daily movements, and as a result we’ve lost touch with our own circadian rhythms. We import fruits and vegetables from all around the world, so we’ve lost sight of the seasonality of foods that are locally grown. We look to calendars to define our days and have lost our awareness of the movement of the sun, the moon and the stars. In short, we’ve “smoothed out” many of the variables inherent in our reality to better suit our mechanized industrial needs, to the point we’re ignoring the ever-changing nature of this amazing world we live in.
One day we may all suddenly wake up and realize our world has changed dramatically while we weren’t paying attention. We already know a volcano like Montserrat can erupt and in an instant wipe out two-thirds of an island. A hurricane can decimate a seemingly permanent city like New Orleans, and a virus like AIDS can arrive on the scene and threaten our survival. We don’t argue for long with the powerful forces of nature, and we certainly don’t ignore these events when they happen. Reality always marches on, not caring whether we’d like to ignore its existence.
From Observing Universal Change to Activating Change
To move joyfully into alignment with what is—to honor the nature of the ever-changing cosmic organism of which we are all part—is to love the world that has created us, and to live in accord with the changes it inspires. Then only can we step into our role as conscious beings with the power to activate change.
What a wonderful gift we’ve been given: the ability to observe universal change along with the power to understand it, coupled with the capacity to bend the world in ways that might best serve the needs of the whole. What a shame we’ve managed to squander that gift for so long.
So far most of our attempts to bend reality to humanity’s vision have been for short-term personal gain rather than long-term social or planetary benefit. In fact, most of the changes we’ve made so far have been designed to advantage a few of us at the expense of the planetary whole. For example, we’ve carved up the land into artificial chunks and sold them to the highest bidder, depriving countless living creatures, as well as other, less fortunate humans, of their natural right to a place in this world without our explicit permission.
We’ve decimated whole species with our clear-cutting, strip mining, oil drilling and so forth in service to our economic interests, with little concern for the impact those extinctions have had on our planet. We’ve polluted our oceans, rivers and seas and urbanized large swaths of land, reshaping, scarring and paving over nature to construct our idea of how a human world “should” look. We’ve done so from a place of separation consciousness.
Separation consciousness is the perspective that we were somehow set apart from everything else, and that what we did for ourselves in the short run was more important than the consequences of our actions in the long run. We behaved this way not because we were purposefully trying to destroy the Earth, but out of a complete lack of awareness of the heaviness of our own footprint on the neck of our mother planet.
Even as recently as fifty years ago we might have noticed the problems we were creating were getting bigger but assumed they would fall on another generation to manage, that we could personally escape from the need to change or suffer a social collapse. Now though, with our problems looming ever larger in the span of our own lifetimes, it would be disingenuous (and maybe suicidal) for us to decide we’ve no choice but to continue along the path of “business as usual” because we’ve created a machine that’s too big to fail and too cumbersome to change. That may have been the fate of the dinosaurs, but it needn’t be ours...unless we shrug and surrender ourselves to it.
The World Is Humanity’s Stage—but Who Writes Our Scripts?
Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” That line is more than simple metaphor.
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The Earth is a stage, albeit a living one, having been constructed over some four billion years of planetary evolution. The land and social environments that constitute our local sets are ever-shifting, and the dramatic, individual life and death stories being acted out upon those many stages are ever-changing.
We’re the actors and actresses, some of the many creatures who enter this cosmic field of play through the doorway of birth. Each of us will act out our personal story, as well as perform supporting roles in the personal stories of others, until commanded by life (our cosmic director) to exit, which each of us will do through the doorway of death.
The Whole Truth: We Are Life
Actually, that’s only part of the truth, not the whole truth. For at heart we are life. We are inseparable from it, thus from each other and from all other things. Life blows into and out of this world through the countless forms it creates, but underneath them all it remains eternal, infinite, formless.
No matter how hard we try to pin life down it can’t be isolated, dissected or put back together by us, as can a machine. When we do try to understand it, for instance if we dissect a dog to learn more about how it functions, we have to extinguish the dog’s life essence in our quest for some objective truth.
Life is energy in its purest form, a miraculous dancer that animates every atom, molecule, cell, plant and creature in this world. Life is the creator of the magic and the source of the light that flows into the cosmos. Some of us call that light of life the soul, while others call it divine energy or God.
Whatever we call it, it exists not only in people, but also in everything that exists around us. We feel it flowing inside ourselves, which is why we’re drawn to a notion of “self” that extends beyond the borders of our temporary forms. When we finally learn to sense it in everything else is when we’ll shed our feelings of isolation. We are not alone; we never were. We just lost sight of the life bursting out all around us.
A False Sense of Separation
Once a majority of us let go of that false sense of separation by noticing the eternal dimension of life that binds the entire cosmos together, we’ll be that much closer to healing the wounds created by our feelings of isolation. Humans won’t become less special by granting the status of “living” to all other things. Instead we’ll be honoring all things in existence so they each become more special, thus sacred to and beloved by us all.
What makes this change so hard is that the scripts we’re currently following promote isolation and human separation. They were written thousands of years ago and given to us as children, before we could think about whether the ideas in them made sense. We were taught at an early age to be patriotic citizens of our respective nations, which means we “like” some countries and rush to do battle with others.
We were taught that our God is the “right” one while everybody else’s God is the “wrong” one. We were taught to embrace our country’s economic policies, which means we must support our corporations and promote their continuation, no matter the cost.
At no time were we offered the chance to write a modern script that better defines who we believe ourselves to be in the here and now, or where we think we’re heading as a species. Certainly we’ve not yet seized the opportunity to write “the end” on the chapter that details the mechanical/industrial era, so we can begin telling our story from a new and living perspective.
Our Choice: Rewriting Our Human Story
Though it’s really our choice to rewrite our human story, our planet seems to be setting the stage for just such an opportunity. For the first time in modern history, with a majority of institutions groaning beneath the weight of global change, we’re being invited to rise to the occasion. And it’s not just the wealthy who are being invited to this party, not just the disenfranchised who are being invited to this revolution, but all of us...together.
We’re being offered the chance to create something more beautiful, compassionate, loving and more alive for ourselves than the mechanical win/lose system that runs us now. We’re being invited to construct healthy, whole systems that more accurately reflect our understanding of humanity as a living organism on a living planet, imbedded in a living universe.
Our world is inviting us to create a new vision for humanity by accelerating the global rate of change. In less than a hundred and fifty years humanity has gone from horse-drawn carriages to space travel, from letters delivered by Pony Express to instant communication around the world. Twenty years ago if we walked into a coffee shop our choices were limited to cream or sugar. Enter a Starbucks today and we’re confronted with a nearly limitless number of choices—all around a simple cup of coffee!
Breathing Life Into What We Are Creating
Clearly, human imagination is expanding its capacity to create by leaps and bounds. The question is this: do we want to continue building more and more complex mechanical systems that suck the lifeblood out of us, or is it time for us to breathe life into what we’re creating? When we create with human values and needs in mind instead of focusing only on what will keep the business machinery running, what we create will begin to reflect the best of what we are.
Whether we survive this present evolutionary shift depends on our willingness to let go of our old ideas and eliminate the practices that no longer serve us. But first we must identify and agree about what needs changing. How long our planet will wait while we quarrel is anyone’s guess, but as our challenges mount we’ll surely be pressed into responding to some very real events.
We’ve already been pressed hard to respond to devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, a terrible tsunami, record flooding in Asia and Australia and diseases that are devastating the people of Africa. How well we’ve done so far is open to question, but the challenges just keep on coming with little time in between for us to regroup. Things will likely go much easier for us if we consciously make time now to reflect on what needs to be done and then begin gently to change our ways.
If we insist on waiting for some dire emergency to force us to blindly, unconsciously react we’re likely to fall back on our animalistic survival instincts rather than to use reason to make more grounded moral choices. Remember that on the evolutionary time scale we’re still a very young species when it comes to our ability to use our sense of reason. We need more practice before reason becomes our default tool when we’re confronted with immediate danger.
Our tendency is to fall back on our old standby, the fight, flight or freeze reflex, which is rooted in fear and often creates more suffering than it averts. We observe this when we witness a rioting mob. Fear generates anger, which feeds reactivity, until reason and values get shunted aside and the energies of instinct become overwhelming. We’ve seen furious mobs in the streets of Palestine attacking armed Israeli soldiers with rocks and sticks; acts those same individuals would never dream of committing on their own. Unfortunately, when people get caught up in a mob mentality they briefly lose touch with their higher sense of self.
Humanity, like locusts, has engaged in unthinking, almost parasitic behavior toward our planet through our money-is-power idea of supply and demand. We must forgive ourselves for our past consumptive behavior, since we were operating from ignorance and from a fear of lack. Now, though, it’s time we paid more attention to living examples of how symbiosis works, and less to our economic dogmas of the past.
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Copyright 2012 by Eileen Workman. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from
"Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life".
Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life
by Eileen Workman
“What diminishes one of us diminishes us all, while what enhances one of us enhances us all.” This philosophy for engaging with each other to create a new and higher vision for humanity’s future lays the cornerstone for Sacred Economics, which explores the history, evolution and dysfunctional state of our global economy from a new perspective. By encouraging us to stop viewing our world through a monetary framework, Sacred Economics invites us to honor reality rather than exploit it as a means for short-term financial profiteering. Sacred Economics doesn’t blame capitalism for the problems we’re facing; it explains why we’ve outgrown the aggressive growth engine that drives our global economy. As a maturing species, we’re in need of new social systems that better reflect our modern life situation. By deconstructing our shared (and often unexamined) beliefs about how our economy works, Sacred Economics creates an opening through which to reimagine and redefine human society.
About the Author
Eileen Workman graduated from Whittier College with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in economics, history, and biology. She began working for Xerox Corporation, then spent 16 years in financial services for Smith Barney. After experiencing a spiritual awakening in 2007, Ms. Workman dedicated herself to writing “Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life” as a means for inviting us to question our longstanding assumptions about the nature, benefits, and genuine costs of capitalism. Her book focuses on how human society might move successfully through the more destructive aspects of late-stage corporatism. Visit her website at www.eileenworkman.com