I think of where we are also as a spiritual place. There is a level to our being here that could be called the group soul of this country. On that level, there is a great deal unanswered for, legacies that only occasionally appear in dramatic ways, but that are present in our lives, in our attitudes, in our homes and games, and diet, and economics, and education.
We are so used to thinking linearly, in simple cause and effect terms that we don’t see dramatic or tragic events as related to our wars, or for example here, to this country’s imperialism, and to the historical justifications for crimes. The sum total of all that is latent violence in us manifests in countless ways, but we see only a part, respond to even less, and collectively accumulate more fear and aggression.
Were we to address the source of all these forms of violence, then more than mass shootings, or our being a carceral state would be prevented. The problem is we don’t ask deep questions. Our urgency hasn’t translated yet into relentless, focussed inquiry with the aim of healing our national soul.
Beyond this one place, we are also a part of this world. Its virtues are our own, as well as all its tragic histories. Were we to reach deep into out national psyche, we would find wellsprings of thought, and sources of strength and insight that began long before our ancestors arrived on these shores. We would also find atavistic impulses, the draw towards tribalism, exclusion, bias and learned indifference.
We carry all this with us.
Why do we act as we do? If we ask this in a superficial way, impatient to move past violence, or wars, or racism, or materialism, we’ll get only a superficial, and ultimately unsatisfying answer.
If we ask this same question on deeper levels however, we find how we are made of the past, of both the wisdom and ignorance of our ancestors, the triumphs and still to be resolved dynamics set in motion long ago.
Deeper than the personal and familial, can find a national soul in us, and deeper than that, a cultural, and then a world soul as well. Healing means to heal all of these.
We begin with ourselves, with our own lives as they are now. They carry all of our past in a unique form.
We may say it was not our doing,
that this past should have no claim on us,
but the jewel box placed in our crib at birth
also has these dark mysteries
no one has ever walked in
and until it is finished
this work of revelation
will wait and will haunt us
a pressing weight that one day has to speak its name
Claiming our lives here as they have come to us is a mighty act. It means on a visceral level shedding the unspoken assertion of ourselves as individuals unconnected to our family’s past, unconnected to our nation, culture, and world. Only by going deep in contemplative practice does any of this make sense as more than an idea, or an ideal.
All that needs to be healed must be addressed as both what has made us, and in the greater context of our awakened lives.
This world holds that one in its embrace
Wisdom and ignorance struggle in us, and every step forward any one of us makes benefits us all.
Beyond the partial identifications, and beyond exclusion, there is a wholeness that acts dynamically in us when we sense it. This work that we are doing now, on any level we identify is really the work of healing the world soul. Artists and parents and recluses and activists are all working, united by hidden lines of force that are made of one kind of love.
See for yourself if what I am saying is true, and it will be your truth as well.