UNIVERSAL DHARMA

This Too, Will Pass ~ DISCOVERY

DURING THE RENAISSANCE OF THE 14th-15th centuries in Europe, when the shackles of the Dark Ages were being sundered and the Spirit of Discovery was in the air, the idea that 'Man is the measure of all things' came into being and slowly took hold. This was a tremendous mental step forward and, needless to say, was vehemently opposed by the Church, which felt its power-base undermined and threatened thereby.

It has taken hundreds of years since then— years marked by Industrial Revolutions and the rapacious exploitation of the Earth's bounty— for us to begin to see, as is now happening, that the concept of 'Man as the measure of all things' is also incorrect and has led to all manner of excesses. Only now, when the effects of our thoughtlessness are being felt, are we starting to realize that the Earth and everything on it is not ours to do with just as we like, but that we are living here and sharing it with countless other life-forms. This realization, whether it comes from inside our own minds or is forced upon us from outside, must bring about a transformation of consciousness towards the world we live in and the Earth we live on; we must critically examine our relationship to the Whole of which we are parts: Do we belong to it, or does it belong to us? In a mystical way, both are true; but from an everyday, practical point-of-view, we, as parts, belong to the Whole— not in a Stalinist sort of way, wherein the parts are seen as existing for the Whole (or the State), and regarded as expendable and to be subjugated, but because the Whole cannot exist without the parts.

We live in a very-exciting time, where, on one hand, we are faced, still, with the threat of nuclear holocaust and ecological disaster, and on the other hand— and largely because of the former— we see the collapse of many old dogmas and concepts that have impeded our progress for centuries. There is the possibility, at last, of a union of Science and Religion. Now is the time for a 'Great Leap Forward' of the Spirit, a time to put aside faint-heartedness and to summon up strength and courage from within.

We, in the so-called 'developed' world, have reached a standard of living hitherto unknown in history. But it didn't just happen overnight as the result of three wishes granted us by a 'genie-in-a-jar'; it crept up on us gradually, like day emerging from night, or as the growing of our hair. And because of this, we have grown used to it and now take it for granted and even expect more, and this is where the danger lies: not in the material prosperity itself, but in our dull and thoughtless acceptance of it. We have been overdosed with it all and unable to make the necessary adjustments. So, that which we took into our house as a servant has become a thief and has robbed us of our self-reliance. And whenever something unexpected and unplanned for happens, we get scared and don't know what to do; our tenuous sense of security gives way to insecurity, and most of us, having concentrated mainly on the material aspect of life, have few spiritual resources to fall back upon, or have lost touch with the inner life so completely that we have forgotten its existence. Then, as always when trouble arises, we fall back upon our various gods for help, but the gods either do not exist, are deaf, do not care, are impotent, or simply enjoy the tragicomedy enacted by foolish humanity, and so no help is forthcoming.

A time of fine weather is a time to repair the holes in the roof where the rain gets in; it is unwise to wait for the rain to come before fixing them. Likewise, a time of peace is a time to prepare for unpeace— not by stockpiling arms and building fall-out shelters, but for moral-rearmament: developing our inner resources and defenses. How might we do this? By understanding something of the nature of life as it is, rather than as we would like it to be. Usually, we oppose life and are in conflict with it, trying either to grasp and possess it or to drive it away; we pit our puny selves against the irresistible forces of life, instead of learning how to work with them.

A certain philosopher summed up life in these words: "We are born, we suffer, we die." But can life be summed up so briefly and bleakly? If that were all there is to it, maybe we could put it so, but though we do indeed suffer and die, we also learn and develop and contribute to life, directly or indirectly, actively or passively. We have not always lived as we live now; 10,000 years ago and less— a mere blink in the life of the Universe!— we were living in caves, with no written language or technology beyond the ability to use fire and chip flint into crude weapons and tools. Our ancestors suffered and died, but each generation passed something on to the succeeding one, and we of the present are the heirs of the countless generations of our ancestors. How can we hold back tears of sorrow, admiration, gratitude and love for them and their sufferings when they left us so much? They lived and died for us, did they not? And now, who are we living for— just ourselves?

Dazzled and mesmerized by the material prosperity of the West, almost the whole world seems to want to adopt it as its model, ignoring its soaring crime-rate, its fear, tension, competitiveness, hedonism and deep-rooted dissatisfaction. Since World War II, apart from numerous regional conflicts, we have had a period of overall peace, but it has been a very tense peace, like a drawn bow (actually, World War II never really ended but continued in other forms); this has had serious ramifications on our psychic health: few of us know inner peace. Killer-diseases like smallpox, diphtheria and TB have either been eradicated or brought under control, but others have appeared or increased to take their places: stress-induced, like high blood-pressure and heart-disease, immune-system break-downs like cancer and AIDS, cerebral diseases like stroke, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, mental diseases like schizophrenia, manic-depression, drug-addiction. And another, which falls in the latter category and should be treated as a disease— as it really is a dis-ease— is Boredom, for it makes us feel listless, worthless, devoid of a sense of hope, purpose and direction in life, and leads to all kinds of mischief, crime, destructiveness and often, to suicide.

It is sad to so-often hear people these days complain of being bored and having 'nothing to do,' when we have so many forms of ready-made entertainment and so many marvelous things to wonder at. We have so much leisure-time, and are surely more fortunate, in so many ways, than people ever were before, but we are also more bored, and our fortune is wasted; we have become dull in our imitation of others and our eyes do not see. Only when we have lost it— and there's always a possibility of this— might we realize the value and wonder of what we now have. What a tragedy! Bored?! We are bored because the good things that we have so abundantly came to us from others, without us having a hand in their creation and production or really earning them ourselves; we think that, just because we have money to buy them with, that is all that matters. But too much of something good— and one example of this is freedom— becomes not good; we take it lightly, lose appreciation of it, become satiated and jaded; our fortune becomes misfortune and drags us down. But must it be so? No, we must say; No, we must shout; it must not be so! We must not let our creation become our destruction but our salvation!

But we all become bored at times, do we not? Yes, this is true, so we must know how to look at boredom, how to observe and examine it, and then it might be possible to turn it around. From sorrow comes joy, from failure comes success, from weakness comes strength, from ignorance comes knowledge, from defeat comes victory, and so on. It's all a matter of knowing how to look at things, of accepting things as they are, of knowing how to extract the essence, of seeing what can be done next and where to go from there— in a word: Alchemy!

For food to be digested and sustenance derived therefrom, it must first be ingested. By accepting things as they are and entering into their spirit, complacency, boredom or fatalism do not result, but, on the contrary, a sense of wonder and awe, of adventure, and the discovery of worlds and dimensions undreamed of before, like as when we look through a powerful telescope at the night-sky, or through a microscope at the teeming life-forms there. All things— not excluding ourselves— are seen to be constantly new and different, like the patterns in a kaleidoscope. In most cases, we are just beginning to learn about ourselves— this living miracle; there is so much to be discovered! If we saw this, boredom would soon disappear. Here, in this knowledge, is the antidote to the modern disease of Boredom: Discovering Life. Many of us think that, just because the Earth has been charted and mapped-out, the Age of Discovery is over, and we must resign ourselves to the 'monotony' of everyday life, but it is not so. Life is waiting for us to discover it, waiting for us to open our eyes and marvel at the beauty and treasures that surround us on all sides.

LIFE: Be in it!

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