I have just been out to walk my dogs. I was hearing on the radio this morning how walking was one of the best things we can do for our mental and physical health. They were saying how our pace of thinking is programmed to match our pace of walking. I was walking slow and mulling over how to raise spirits in the face of current world situations. They were talking about walking on the news because, apparently, Teresa May spent the Easter weekend walking and thinking, with the result that she is calling a General Election for 8 June. Now some of you may be delighted with this, but I know that many of you who read this blog and who work as public servants, perhaps in health or education, will be dismayed.
After two weeks receiving teachings from Situ Rinpche and practicing in the lovely Leela hotel in Delhi, India, coming back to Donald Trump and his wall, Erdogan and the referendum in Turkey and North Korea and the threat of nuclear war could be quite depressing. There is a Buddhist prediction, that we are moving into a dark age, in which it is easy for people to believe in and follow negative things like separate national interests and selfishness and difficult for people to believe in and follow positive things like compassion, sharing our resources with all on the planet and connecting with our common humanity. It certainly feels like we could be moving into a dark age!
As I was walking, I was thinking about some Radiohead lyrics from their song Subterranean Homesick Alien. It goes:
High up above, Aliens hover
Making home movies, For the folks back home
Of all these weird creatures, Who lock up their spirits
Drill holes in themselves, And live for their secrets
This captured my musing, vaguely melancholy mood, as I wandered through the park, throwing the balls for the dogs. And then I laughed. I remembered a story I had been told, from a reputable source, about aliens doing just that. Keeping guard over the Earth, to make sure the humans don’t get off it, until we experience an evolution of consciousness that makes us a bit more peaceful. When you look at what we have done, and are still doing, to this planet and to each other, any alien inter-Galactic authority would be wise to keep a watch over the humans and to keep us on the Earth.
This also explains why the SETI Project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has not detected any sign of alien intelligence in the universe so far – the alien’s are keeping a low profile and blocking the signals to Earth! I often laugh to myself, when I hear scientists on the TV or radio musing about why they haven’t heard any alien transmissions from space, after all they have been sending a signal out to them for decades. They never consider that we might be under an inter-galactic embargo!
Anyway, whether we believe this or not, what seems to be needed is an evolution of human consciousness and what could fit this requirement better than training in Mindfulness, Compassion and Insight? We can all focus our energy on making this happen.
My suggestion is not to get too bogged down in 24/7 news coverage of grim reality. Perhaps listen once a day, or preferably once a week, to a reputable source of news. I like the PM program at 5pm on BBC Radio 4, as the presenter Eddie Mair is the most human and intelligent news presenter I know and provides a warm and witty overview of the day’s events, without taking it too seriously. I listen a couple of days a week. If we are constantly focussed on world affairs and allow ourselves to get angry or fearful about these things over which we have no control, we disempower ourselves and make ourselves miserable. That is of no practical use to anyone. Instead, we can focus on something we can do to improve our corner of the world and then rejoice that there is something we can do.
Sometimes things have to get worse, before they can get better. Like the story of Chenrezig, the Buddhist deity of Compassion. He broke into a thousand pieces when he broke his vow to work tirelessly to relieve the suffering of sentient beings. However, from being broken he was put back together in a stronger and more capable form, with a thousand arms with which to go about helping beings.
Some people believe that the human condition will lead us to ruin. I don’t believe this. I believe that as a human species, there is a fine balance of 49% negative tendencies and 51% positive tendencies and that in the long run the good will win out! For example, many people are reducing their intake of meat, dairy and eggs because of their concerns for the environment and for animal welfare, thinking beyond their own personal desires to help other beings and the planet. I find this very heartening. There are now over 600 thousand vegans in the UK and the number is growing rapidly. This week I noticed for the first time posters at Manchester Piccadilly station about the animal cruelty involved in the dairy and meat industry. There is a change in the air. If this is of interest to you, then have a look at Simon Amstell’s recent spoof historical documentary ‘Carnage’ about how we might move to a future vegan utopia. It is funny and informative and available on BBC iPlayer (If you have a UK TV licence: click here). Then as I leave the station I walk past the growing number of homeless, mainly young men and women on the street and can’t believe that this is possible in 2017!
If we all work to develop Mindfulness and Compassion and share it with those around us, one day there may be a grass-roots change, an evolution of consciousness, that enables us to look after each other and our planet and perhaps even be allowed by the alien authorities to visit other planets!
So, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be disempowered by the things we have no control over. Instead, we must each step into our own power and each do what we can to make the world a better place!
Don’t give up! Keep going!
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