Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rise to the Occasion!

The movement to shift money from the big banks to credit unions and community banks is a beautiful example of how we don’t have to depend upon the government to solve the problems of bad financial management with regulations and stimulus packages. The people are savvy, and there are lots of ways to wage revolution. We have to understand that we are engaged in revolution and get with the program! Any program! Just pick a place and get to work!

The Peace and Justice Network of the Triad is a clearinghouse for information of all the local groups working the peace and justice side of the street. You’ll find their web site at, and it won’t be long before you have more avenues for engaging in revolution than you can take on in one lifetime. It will be like selecting orange juice, or ice cream, at Harris Teeter. Too many choices, but solid evidence of how much is wrong with the way things are in the country and world, of how much needs to be done, and what people are doing in response to it. The time is always ripe for revolution!

Revolution is the work of consciousness. And it is a spiritual practice. There is nothing more counter-cultural, more subversive, than waking up, seeing, hearing and understanding—than taking on the work of squaring ourselves up with how things are and what needs to be done about it. This is the spiritual journey, task, quest: Asking What is happening? What needs to happen that is not happening? What response do we make to the situation as it arises, unfolds?

The moment is always barging into our lives to disrupt and decimate and disintegrate our cozy little world. What response do we make? As we form our response, we shape ourselves. This realization is crucial to our spiritual development. Our being flows from our doing. We are who we show ourselves to be in the responses we make to the moment of our living. What is the moment asking of us? How do we respond? There we are.

We stand naked before the world in the response we make to each moment of our living. Who we are is expressed in how we respond, how we live in response, to the moment of our living. We cannot bring forth in the moment anything that is not already within us. By bringing it forth, we make it visible, but we do not make it up. We cannot produce something that is not there to begin with, that is not within us, available to us.

If the lights go out, I have to call an electrician because I do not have what it takes to do more than flip the light switch. But, there is more within me than I know is within me, and I make amazing discoveries by getting out of my own way and allowing myself to show me what I am capable of in responding to the impact of the moment of my living. I shape myself in rising to the occasion presented by the moment. So do you. And, in this way, we become who we are over the course of our lives. We do not think our way to being who we are, we live our way there. The more consciously and thoughtfully we live, however, the more fully we become who we are.

The spiritual law at work here is this: Rise to the occasion! Be what is needed! In so doing, we will be bringing forth qualities and characteristics and abilities we don’t know we have. We have latent powers for transforming the world that languish because we will not use them, because we will not rise to the occasion, because we think we cannot do what needs to be done. We owe it to ourselves to find out what we can do and not decide without trying what we can and cannot do

We have to throw ourselves into the situation and see what we are capable of. We all suffer from an inaccurate assessment of our abilities, and with most of us, that comes out in not trying to do anything that pushes, stretches or challenges us in the least. “Oh, no,” we say, “I couldn’t do that!” And we don’t do anything, ever. We don’t think we can do anything, and don’t. We don’t know what we are capable of, and will never know if we do not begin to trust ourselves to rise to the occasion and find out, thereby, what we are made of.

So the questions: What is happening? What needs to happen that is not happening? What is the occasion that is presented by the moment as it is unfolding before us? What response shall we make in rising to the occasion? These questions throw us into the work of spiritual development which is the work of becoming conscious, the work of seeing, hearing, understanding, the work of knowing what needs to be done and doing it, the work of discovering who we are through the process of living our lives.

In this work, we square ourselves up with they way things are and also are within and without. We recognize the incompatibilities, the incongruities, the contradictions and contraries, and come to terms with them. This is true and that is also true so what response shall we make to them? What is being asked of us by the moment as it unfolds? What shall we do? What is the occasion to which we must rise?

Oh wait, don’t tell me, it’s overwhelming, right? We don’t know where to begin, right? Easy. Begin with the Peace and Justice Network of the Triad. Or join the Sierra Club. When Alan Watts asked Joseph Campbell what form his yoga took, Campbell replied, “I underline passages.” Underlining passages can be your form of revolution if you underline revolutionary passages with a revolutionary spirit! If you are overwhelmed, put that on the table along with everything else and DECIDE WHAT RESPONSE YOU WILL MAKE! Distracting yourself with addictions and diversions is not acceptable!

Consciousness stirs to life with the experience of the not-right-ness of things. Once we recognize that things are not right somehow, we can never go back to sleep. From that point on, we take up the work to square ourselves with the way things are and put things right. And our only tool in that work is consciousness, awareness.

To be conscious is to see, hear, understand, know—exactly how things are within and without. We do not hide or look away. We see what we see, hear what we hear, feel what we feel, taste what we taste, smell what we smell, sense what we sense, intuit what we intuit—we take in all that is to be taken in with every receptor we have and bear it all consciously, knowingly, in its entirety. We do not close ourselves off from or deny any aspect of our experience. This is the way things are. This is what is happening. This is what we wish were happening instead. And this is what needs to happen in response to all of these considerations.

Once we see, once we hear, once we understand, once we know, we do. Action flows naturally from knowing how things are and what needs to happen in response to how things are. Seeing is doing! Seeing and doing are being! We are as we do! Our doing, our action, shapes our being, forms who we are! We become who we are in the act of responding to what is happening in the moment of our living. Our living elicits our being, our becoming, who we are, who we are capable of being in response to what in happening in our lives. We are made, you might say, by the occasions to which we arise.

If we lived a life in which nothing happened, there would be not much to us, which is what was true of us as a species for thousands of years. There was not much to us because not much happened in our lives. Not much different anyway, not much that hadn’t always happened, that didn’t always happen. Who we are is a reflection of what is happening in our lives and how we respond to it. We are what we do, how we live. By changing the way we respond, we change who we are, we become who we are capable of being. We expand, deepen, enlarge ourselves by doing what needs to be done in response to what is happening in our lives. This is the work of consciousness, of being conscious, of seeing, hearing, understanding. This is our spiritual practice.

Our spiritual practice is revolution. Transforming ourselves and our situation in life by seeing what needs to be done and doing it. By rising to the occasion and showing ourselves who we are. There is much that is wrong with the way things are in the country and world. What are we are doing in response to it? Pick a place. Get to work. Do what needs to be done, as true revolutionaries.

No comments: