It is very apparent that we are passing through a difficult time together on planet Earth. There is a growing recognition that our conventional social, economic, and political systems are no longer working well enough (if they ever did) to bring about a just, sustainable, and spiritually fulfilling world. However, while many responsible voices have identified the need for a fundamental evolutionary shift, other forces are exploiting this climate of discontent for their own ends.
Like many people, I have been disturbed by the recent spate of violent incidents around the world and the rise of extremist elements in our politics. A spirit of reckless destruction is afoot. One senses the determination in these forces to provoke the rest of the world into endless cycles of conflict.
It can be difficult to know how to respond effectively to these nakedly aggressive influences. Is it best to oppose them with unwavering strength and moral clarity – or to offer them extraordinary compassion and understanding? Or is some combination of these (or other) qualities called for?A few weeks ago, I woke up with a clear inner knowing. I realized that these forces use the energy of fear and hate as fuel. They possess the instinct of the dark that is not bothered by negative attention, but in fact thrives on it. If we direct our own hatred and contempt toward them, they use that energy to grow.
The best way to respond, I realized, is to avoid the temptation to react. Stay calm, stay positive. Choose to have faith that basic human decency will prevail. Keep your practice strong, if you have one. Find the funny side of things. The dark must be confronted courageously, but it is counterproductive to allow ourselves to be drawn into a fight on its own terms.
I posted those insights to my Facebook page, and it generated a significant discussion. A friend drew my attention to Hexagram 43 of the I-Ching (Resoluteness), which offers quite similar guidance for how best to engage in a struggle with "inferior people."Here are some of the key principles I learned from that discussion that built on my own intuitive understanding (quotes are from Richard Willhelm’s translation of the I-Ching):
1. "[Negative forces] must under all circumstances be openly discredited."
One has to stand up to a bully. A compromise with the dark is not possible. One must not be afraid to speak the truth about the danger.
2. "Begin at home, by examining our own shortcomings."
In a struggle with dark forces, our own reactions and limitations are provoked. Thus, it is a good time to do our own inner work. In this way, "finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil become dulled."
3. "The struggle must not be carried on directly by force."
If we attempt to fight the dark with its own weapons, we will lose in the end because we become entangled in hatred and fear.
4. "Make energetic progress in the good."
The best way to combat the dark, therefore, is to engage wholeheartedly in a positive undertaking.
If you would like to "make energetic progress in the good," I invite you to join the WiseUSA subtle activism campaign, offered this year by the Gaiafield Project, the Shift Network, and several other partner organizations.
WiseUSA is designed to engage thousands of people all over the world in regular meditation, prayer, and other sacred activities that allow divine grace to flow into the consciousness of America and the world at this critical time.
Although the Gaiafield Project has a strong global focus, this year we feel a special calling to uplift the hearts and minds of the American people in the 2016 election cycle and beyond. We want to start at home, in our backyard, to do what we can to call forth the highest potentials of the USA, so that it can serve as a mature and responsible actor on the global stage. And regardless of where we live on the planet, we all have a stake in wise leadership emerging from the USA.
The core intention of the campaign is expressed in the following WiseUSA Declaration:
We the people
The ancestors of our great, great grandchildren
Call forth the deepest wisdom
The greatest joy
And the highest compassion
From the heart and soul of America
For the benefit of all life on Earth
And the next seven generations
May wisdom prevail in the United States of America
May peace prevail on Earth.
Through building a strong field of collective intention, we seek to inspire a wave of like-minded initiatives that bring a creative and heart-centered approach to addressing the many challenges facing our nation and our world.