When we were with Amma recently, and for the past year, at the end of the talks and meditations, she has said, “At this time Nature and human minds are equally agitated.” Sounds true, right? She continues saying that Grace is the only thing that can help us in the current situation. I hear this statement coming from Amma who is possibly the person on the Earth working harder and longer than anyone else to uplift the sorrowful, the sick and disenfranchised, the most vulnerable as well as those simply hungering for spiritual solace. She also tells us repeatedly that we won’t accomplish anything, whether materially or spiritually, if we don’t work hard for it.
She said that prayer, especially group prayer, is very powerful and gave the example that when Skylab was going to fall back to Earth in the late 70’s, scientist had predicted that it would probably hit land, and so people all over the world began praying. When Skylab finally fell, most of it fell in the ocean and a small part of it fell in the Australian desert. She added that maybe it was the power of all that prayer or maybe it was God’s Grace, but prayer can definitely bring a change to our current situation and even to the future of humankind. (And again, she also strongly urges all of us her devotees to work hard to change what we can in ourselves and our community and to offer ourselves in service to those in need locally as well as in the larger world.)
Then she guided this visualization/prayer/meditation, remembered as best I could: (We were already sitting quietly and had been silently meditating for 10 minutes or so already. She said all this in Malayalam, her native language, and the Swami translated it, speaking slowly.) Visualize white flower petals of peace falling down on the entire Earth like snow- on all the land, oceans, mountains, rivers, streams, plants, animals and people. (pause) When the flower petals fall on you, they bring a profound peace in your heart. (pause) Let that peace in your heart begin to go out, like white clouds, (That didn’t resonate with me so I just let it go out as a vibration.) spreading peace all around and eventually to all the beings in the world. While you sit with that, you can silently chant “Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu” or just feel the vibrations of peace spreading out to and filling the entire Universe.
I was there for 7 of those guided meditations which felt very powerful in the room full of 1500-2000 people. As the prayer deepened over those times, and as the impact of Amma repeatedly saying that we could change even the future of humankind (!!), in the final part of sitting in the vibrations and feeling them filling the Universe, I was struck by the immense possibility that humanity could potentially be a Force for Peace and Goodness, not just on the Earth but in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! Not just in our families, in our community, in our nation, not even just our little Earth, but potentially the ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
The sad reality of how far we seem to be from that possibility is very clear to me. We are all addicted, or maybe just committed, to remaining small, to holding ourself back, personally and societally, from our fullest potential, including myself and others who are trying not to be. It feels right now very important to me to hold to the Highest possibilities for myself, and for all beings, given the political race to the bottom with the upcoming Presidential election and the intensity of so many people’s commitment to holding onto smallness, whether personally, nationally or religiously.
We KNOW there’s enough food to feed everybody on the Earth. We know that waging war (=defense) and destroying lives robs us of resources that could better lives in the U.S. and elsewhere. But if we are to rise above it all, to come truly from a place of peace, we have to be able to introspect first and foremost and to face our fears fearlessly. The current reading in my classes last week included this great insight: “The ways you think about yourself [and] the world are the basic building blocks of personality and they are very rigid. When these structures are challenged, fear arises. Fear often expresses itself through attack and defense as a means of alleviating the pain that fear brings. Attack and defense are a way of shoring up (protecting) the challenged structure and burying fear in what is called the unconscious, giving you the illusion of not being afraid.” And I add, “and the illusion of being in control.”
Given those facts, to face our fears is really to face the edges (limits… smallness) of who we THINK we are… no small task. To face our fears means to be willing and able to see underneath or beyond the surface level of the attack or defense mode (or numbing out mode) that we will inevitably experience. Though certainly many of us are up for the challenge, we do seem to be a great minority. That minority, however, may turn out to be influential enough to move humanity toward Love and Service, Generosity and Friendliness. By God’s Grace. By the Grace of our Deepest Innermost Self. By the Grace of the Supreme Underlying Energy. We’ve got to try. We already are! That means we just need to keep going and take our practice and our service to the next level when we can, and not waste any energy on people and thoughts that only further bind us to fear and pettiness. We already know for ourselves what we need to do. Are we truly doing it?
(more thoughts on this to come!)