Occupy the Heart!


 

No doubt it is news to no one that
planet Earth is in a period of escalating interlocking crises. We need a
response that addresses all the hidden as well as the obvious
dimensions of these crises — before they spin out of control into
irretrievable chaos. (For the moment, let us leave aside the geophysical
crises, including climate change, increasing seismic activity, and the
ozone holes, as well as pollution, radiation poisoning, mass extinctions
of species, increasing solar flare activity, and the like. They cannot
be dealt with effectively so long as the current political system
endures.) The system is in process of collapsing of its own weight, its
own internal contradictions. At the same time, spontaneous social
movements are arising on a global scale that are confronting the system
and increasing the level of stress to the breaking point. Our concern is
to assure the optimal outcome of this titanic face-off.

The crisis we face at the sociopolitical level is one of legitimacy of authority. The OWS movement (Occupy Wall Street) and the Indignado movement
in Spain and other anti-austerity movements all over Europe, following
on the so-called Arab Spring, not to mention student movements and
general protest movements in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin
America, are simultaneously rising to a crescendo.

Given the logic of the collective
ego in its current form of postmodern fragmentation, and the exhaustion
of the value system of the dying civilization in which this is all
taking place, there is a high probability of these movements
degenerating into violence at a level of intensity that could tear apart
the social fabric irreparably.  It is possible to avoid the worst-case
scenarios of intensifying cycles of uncontainable street protests,
police over-reactions, counter-reactions of mob destructiveness,
eventual martial law, disappearances of activists, concentration camps,
uncontrollable private acts of vengeance, looting, and complete social
breakdown. But to avoid such a fate, which for governments is the
automatic reflex, will require on the part of civic leaders a very
refined level of mass diplomacy.

We must all be prepared for what
is to come. To contribute to the possibility of healing the widening
rifts in our societies, it is important for a critical mass of
individuals to occupy not the government and financial centers, but to
occupy the Heart. If enough of us will hold the center of love, the
inner center of true compassionate consciousness of our unity as
manifestations of the One Source, we can pass through these times of
tribulation with sacred integrity and offer a healing balm rather than
merely watching (or participating in) the explosion of other sorts of
bombs.

We must take seriously the need to train diligently to
succeed in our occupation of the Heart. If we intend to take part in
civil disobedience and remain non-violent — in fact, if we wish to remain
non-violent even in a cloistered convent, we must practice being mindful
and empathic in all circumstances that arise. We must stabilize our
attention in one-pointed sacred silence and stillness. Non-violence
requires the sacrifice of the ego. Because the ego is a machine to
sacrifice others, to scapegoat others who are rivals for power, and to
dominate or die. The ego is the real enemy, not the other, not even the
ego of the other. Victory over the ego can only be achieved through the
realization that the ego is an illusion, a satanic force that brings
about only misery. Even the dominant ego is miserable behind its façade
of prestige.

It would be useful for activists to take vows, as do
those committed to any of the traditional spiritual paths, such as
Buddhist, Yogic, or Christian monastic orders. Those vows invariably
include a vow of non-violence. If the members of the occupation
movements were to publicly take solemn vows of non-violence, as well as
vows of non-stealing and truthfulness, that act would give them the
moral high ground and remove any excuse for violence on the part of the
police. Linking the social movements to all spiritual traditions that
support love among neighbors will increase the backing of those who do
not take part in the civic actions. These movements would have been
blessed, if not led, by many of the great saints and founders of past
religious movements. Other spiritually evolved beings would have avoided
enmeshment in politics, but would have offered prayers for peace and
guidance to eschew scapegoating and divisiveness. There are many
spiritual beings today who will not take part in social upheavals, but
will be great catalysts of healing afterward. Regardless of the role we
feel called to play in these tumultuous times, the feeling of love and
compassion, rather than anger, should motivate us all.

The ego is
adept at seducing us into a state of self-righteousness. It is this
that enables us to justify our turn to violence. In the current
situation, both sides — the establishment via the mass media and the
street protestors — maintain that they represent the 99%. Neither side is
right. Although the ruling elite is no doubt even smaller than even 1%,
they still command the loyalty of armies and police forces, media and
other massive structural apparatuses, including the multinational
corporations. If we fall into an urban guerilla war scenario, the
proverbial gates of Hell will open. Perhaps it is our karma for this to
happen, but it is not too late to repent and take a higher road.

It
is therefore important that we hold a vision of a world that is free of
conflict, free of ego, and free of structural oppression. The monastic
communities of both the present and past, including Buddhist lamaseries,
shamanic enclaves among many indigenous tribes, Eastern Orthodox and
Camaldolese monasteries, kibbutzim, and Yogic ashrams, may provide
different yet compatible models of divine communalism that can help us
restructure our utopian designs for a harmonious future. Out of the
death of the current mode of life a new and more evolved form of life
will be born. We can ensure that it will be a life of higher
consciousness, of loving inclusiveness, of universal peace.

We
may want to visit spiritual communities that are currently flourishing
and learn from their experience. Living in such communities of love and
egoless mutual surrender to the Supreme Self, and to the Law of
Goodness, is possibly the best preparation for restoring our world as a
whole. It is essential to overcome cynicism and despair, to recognize
that other ways of governing ourselves are possible, and that life need
not be based on money and mimetic desire and all that brings with
it-competition, rivalry, aggressivity, covetousness, domination, greed,
sexual obsession, anxiety, depression, and the consequent abuse of
alcohol and drugs.

The only escape from the inevitability of
mutual destruction by social forces determined by collective and
individual narcissism is that mimetic desire, with its inherent tendency
to covetousness and violence, be replaced by advaitic desire, which is
better termed non-dual Self-recognition; otherwise known as divine love.
But this requires the sacrifice of ego, a sacrifice that, once achieved
among a critical mass, can become mimetically-advaitically reduplicated
throughout the society. In other words, one learns through emulating a
teacher who has transcended mimesis to recognize the One Self in all
beings, and thus to be able to love without needing to appropriate the
other's image. But to do this authentically, one must first encounter a
being who is one with Being, who recognizes the Self in you, as I-I, in
the present, to melt away the defenses of the ego.

To escape from
the downward spiral of egocentricity, then, we need to find and
surrender to a higher principle of organization, embodied in a real
human presence. It is not enough to understand this principle
intellectually, in the abstract, but to come face to face with the abyss
of emptiness and nonduality as living Presence.

The abstract
principle has most often been referred to as God. But because the
concept of God has taken on too much imaginary conceptual baggage for
the modern scientific intellect to accept, it is useful to deconstruct
that concept, and to recognize that other cultures have found many other
terms, free of the personalistic and objectivizing terminology of the
theistic traditions. The Buddhists, for example, use the term emptiness
to refer to this ultimate principle. The word nirvana is also used,
meaning silence. Others use the word tao, meaning the way. The advaita dharma refers to this ultimate principle as atman, which could be translated as Self that is free of selfhood.

What
is necessary to realize is that the principle in question refers to the
core of our consciousness, not to some fantasmatic top gun alpha male
Other. It refers to a deep level of awareness that is fully present,
diamond-like in clarity and strength, but free of fixations,
objectifications, and identifications; prior to language and yet with a
level of intelligence higher and more integral than our linguistic level
of symbolic consciousness. But can we recognize that deep level of
awareness in ourselves until it is seen by an uncanny non-egocentric
Other?

Being seen as a non-object, seen as the seer, united with
the other as mutual in-seeing, the I-I, is the function of a guru or
spiritual guide. It is the meaning of the trinity, of god becoming man
so that man may become god.

The supramental level of our Being is
present now and always, but inaccessible to the grasp of
ego-consciousness. It is not the Freudian unconscious, which is filled
with repressed egoic desires and phantasies. Neither is it the Jungian
archetypal unconscious, which is still within the merely symbolic
dimension of reality. It is, rather, the ineffable Beyond within, the
ultimate mystery behind the I. The purification of the lower egoic
unconscious and the digestion and integration of the archetypal
unconscious are useful steps toward attaining the ultimate home of
absolute consciousness. But none of that can happen without recognition
by the Other of the Self within, so that mimetic perception can be
converted into advaitic apperception.

When we realize the Supreme
Self, there will be no question or doubt about it. The majestic
feelings of transpersonal love, the subtle yet shining presence of
supernal light, the flowing currents of immense and overwhelming healing
energy, and the silent power of sublime presence, will fill the
awareness with awe and joy. This is the significance of the guru's gift
of shaktipat. It enables one to occupy the Heart.

By occupying
the Heart, we transmit to the whole universe the energies of peace and
boundless love. Because we are all interconnected, when one being
attains the supreme beatitude, the flow of grace is disseminated to all
other beings. So the greatest act of kindness and encouragement that
could be offered to others is the act of abiding in the sweet silence of
the Self, dissolving the ego and becoming terminally (and interminably)
inebriated with the divine nectar of blissful consciousness.

So
let us all march together, at least metaphorically, which means to
merge together in unity, not as the 99%, but as the full 100%, as the
inherently united (beyond the veil of illusory mimetic multiplicity and
conflict) divine super-organismic manifestation of the One, Most High,
Absolute Self. By recognizing our oneness, we can transform society from
a battlefield into a Garden of Eden. So let us occupy Nirvana! Occupy
the Kingdom of Heaven! Occupy the throne of Allah! Occupy the Pure Land!
Occupy Sach Khand! Occupy Shambhala!

For God's sake, let us occupy the Heart!

Namaste,
Shunyamurti

 

Image by bixentro, courtesy of Creative Commons license.