Hard Rain

President Trump of the United States kicked off his 2020 campaign last week, pouring fuel on the flames of fear, mistrust and anger to reignite the hurting and fevered base that would assure his re-election.  During the same week, more environmental regulations were rolled back in the face of the science that overwhelmingly points to a warming planet, with disastrous consequences for not just humans, but all life.

In another cynical gesture, Guatemala, among the poorest of countries in the hemisphere, with leadership grounded in corruption and abuse of its people, was forcibly named by the United States as the designated refuge of asylum for migrants fleeing gang or narco-violence and drought in Central America, particularly those from the neighboring countries of Honduras and El Salvador.  This comes as the number of people fleeing Guatemala, for the very same reasons, is at its own peak level.

Wall Street waits on the sidelines, up a little today, down a little tomorrow, fluttering anxiously on the tails of the latest presidential Tweet.  It is stunning to consider that the markets of the most sophisticated economy in human history rise and fall with so little rationality.

And someone somewhere thinks that yet another manufactured war in the Middle East will line enough pockets to make it worth the lives of countless unarmed citizens on another side of the globe and a few thousand dead or traumatized soldiers of our own.

We seem the epicenter of a newly unleashed global permission to hate.

But hatred is a thin veil for the underlying reality.  As wealth becomes increasingly concentrated at the top, the masses turn to misguided anger.  It is always easiest to hate someone who poses no threat beyond being somehow different.  And the devil in power loves the opportunity to fan the flames in a sleight of hand to mask its ballooning greed.

We can delude ourselves with the religion of false morality.  We can vent our frustration in political mudslinging.  We can beam our positive energy out to the universe.  If we don’t change our ways, “well it’s a hard, hard, hard, hard, it’s a hard rain gonna fall.” (Bob Dylan)

We don’t need a nasty god to judge us.  We are doing a fine job of creating our horizon of hell.

Wealth is not the issue here, nor is power, though the mad grab for both is symptomatic.  Human hearts that misunderstand their connection to creation, their responsibility to compassion and beauty; shrunken hearts deluded in belief that they are the majestic pinnacle in the unimaginable scope of all that is; hollow hearts certain that money can buy happiness, eternal life and the exit from all misfortune — these furiously pave the way to our collective demise.  So many comfortable people, trailing just behind in the bell curve, would rather not know, turning a blind eye.  The newly poor flare with misplaced anger.  The truly downtrodden migrate in desperation for the next scrap of bread.

Dylan’s blue-eyed boy knows nothing of hard rain.  Rather, it is the global masses in the path of rabid extortion and extraction, fleeing violence and hunger, the hidden but real costs of the low prices paid by the white north for food, clothing, energy, transportation and daily security.  These, the most with the least, are the ones who know the storm.  Their desperate lives are nothing but.

The headlong greed of the top and the complacency of the shrinking class we call middle (screaming rich compared to the displaced and suffering masses), have now traversed a height of slim escape, speeding blindly along a precipitous and razor thin ridge.  The depletion of the earth’s resources, the warming of the atmosphere, the increasing likelihood of massive system failures, the insane stockpiling of sophisticated nuclear weaponry, these loom large and imminent on a rapidly approaching horizon.  Yet money-madness and lazy comfort hold pedal to the metal, throwing up their flat screen charades, a vomitous spew of digitized misinformation, fooling themselves that all is well.  America is now great again.

We have taken so much more than enough.  Yet seeing only the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we sap and burn the Tree of Life, sucking up even the water that feeds its roots in our insatiable appetite for the things that were never real.  America, America, it’s a hard, hard rain that’s going to fall.

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Contact jerry@2treegarden.com or by phone or text to (970) 217-6078.

Creation

Creation is amazing.  Things keep happening on a seemingly infinite scale from small to grand, subtle to nuclear, still to beyond the speed of light.  What’s it about?  Where do we fit in?  Our vision is so limited and, given the immensity of the whole thing, we mostly just ignore it and go on our way.

Going on our way, however, is exactly our problem – or better put, the problem of “our.”  The premise of Two Trees in the Garden is that, under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we became conscious, we woke up to “I”, “my” and “our.”

The “going on our way,” the “going” and the “way” of “our,” all happened on a road of fear.  We believed ourselves to be alone and separate.  We became aware of death.  The response of “I,” “my” and “our” was greed and a grasp for power and control.  Anger, deceit and violence became our tools.

But “our way” is not the way of creation, of true reality.  It is only halfway.  It is not whole.  It is “self”-deceived.  We don’t know it, but true reality is that we are under the Tree of Life, not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is only our limited misperception of the real thing.  And that real thing, the real tree, is love, goodness, beauty, relationship, peace, the surprise of creation, rest and enough.  Why would we not want these things?  How do we get there?

It’s been called by many names, this turn from “self”-deceit to connected reality:  enlightenment; awakening; conversion; second birth; born again.  And in our despair, we look for any one of these (they are all the same) as some sort of magical elixir that, if we can only reach it, grasp it, experience it, will make us happy and solve our worldly fears and woes, maybe even save us from death.  And it always seems elusively just beyond “our” reach.

But it’s not elusive at all.  Yes, it is beyond “my,” “our” grasp.  The problem is that we are grasping at nothing to be grasped.  And we are missing everything.  Because enlightenment, awakening, conversion, second birth, being born again are the simple choice of turning from deception and coming home to reality.  And “reality,” is “not grasping.”

Creation, friends, is the impetus, the impulse, the word of love breathed infinitely and eternally into the void.  And we are part of it and with it, not separate, as our fear – the fear that is “I,” “my,” “our” – would have us believe.  And our fear is only that, a belief upon which we act, resulting in our unhappiness, the unhappiness of “our.”

Alas, what must “I” do to be saved?  It’s so simple.  Confess.  Confess and submit.  Confess that you, the real you, are connected to and one with the great I Am, the love and exuberance beyond all knowing that is part and parcel of all you see, unfolding with joy and confidence into all you cannot perceive.

It’s a piece of cake, a walk in the park, a look into the eyes of the beloved.  When deceived “you” lets go of grasping and submits to real everything, you are alive, awake, born for real under the Tree of Life.

© Jerry S Kennell, Two Trees in the Garden.  Feel free to quote, as useful, with proper reference.

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Jerry Kennell provides spiritual direction in person and by Skype at Two Trees Center for Spiritual Development.  Contact jerry@2treegarden.com or by phone or text to (970) 217-6078.  Click FOLLOW to be notified of future posts.

Submit Yourself

East, West, which way to look for that perfect spirituality?  Such a quandary for the comfortable with time and resources to spare.  No doubt my deep intentions are tilting the universe in a better direction, while in turn, that very same expanse is conspiring for my greatest good.  But somehow the rubble still gets deeper in Syria.  The thugs paid by the palm oil companies are still burning the houses of peasants in Colombia.  And the string of cars belching carbon, clawing their desperate way to the mountains in Estes Park, Colorado, extend the crack in the Antarctic ice sheet.

There are flies all over all of us.  What to do?  We can rage against the darkness.  It’s so easy to blame the stupidity of others for the burden we share.  We can wallow in despair, sighing our way to the next tomorrow and the next.  We can stick our heads in the sand.  If I am comfortable in this moment, why look beyond my bubble?  We can work ourselves to weariness with good deeds, shrug, and say we did our best.

But these alternatives share major flaws.  They are selfish and disconnected.  All focus on how I feel about myself in relation to the problem or to the rest of creation.  My anger at others exonerates me from personal complicity and, therefore, action.  And yet, especially as one of the world’s privileged, I take no step and breathe no breath without exhaustive and violent extraction from the Earth and all its creatures, including the bulk of humanity.

Despair, of course, is just completely irresponsible.  I can blame my inactivity on the impossible size of the task and the exhaustion I experience just thinking about it.  Focusing on my own comfort at least gives me pleasure and distraction.  But these two options also abdicate responsible participation.

And let’s be real.  My good deeds are never enough.  I can never run fast enough or jump high enough to save the planet on my own.  And the conclusion that at least I tried is just another form of despair, with the gold star of performance pasted on it to relieve my guilt with a little smug pride.

The root error of all these responses is that they focus on me, as though my feelings are what matter, or as though the outcomes of creation are somehow, in a very special and important way, on my shoulders.  And when I am focused on me, I am too distracted to be truly useful.

I opened with a less than subtle dig at the spirituality of intention.  Perhaps that is unfair.  Focusing our intentions for good can, it seems, shift energy with positive outcomes in ways that we can observe, if not yet comprehend.  As Masaru Emoto documents in his Messages from Water and the Universe, even a positive word pasted on a glass of water can yield a response of astounding beauty in ice crystals formed from that water.  Perhaps on a given evening we could effect positive change if millions focused their intentions completely on the healing of our president.  And yet our New Years prayers for universal peace – offered annually all over the world – have yet to tip the balance decisively.  Who can say, of course, that they have not at least held us back from the brink of destruction.

What we miss in all of this is that we are not, indeed, ourselves.  Nor are we just our intentions.  We are intention embodied.  We (not just humans, but every particle and the energy that binds it into being) are the hands and feet of Creation.  Our intelligence, while seemingly vast from where we stand, is just a speck of something grand beyond imagination.  Whether we look big and far to the stars and galaxies or small to the mysterious behavior of the Higgs Boson, we learn that everything is always more and different than we think.  Our book of physics is never more than a scratchpad of notes in the library of what we vainly imagine to be the universe.

We are intention embodied,  We act within the capabilities and limitations of our embodiment.  Granted, that is a statement of blind faith.  But what is more blind than the borders of what we think is real?  I choose – I invite you to choose – faith that the wonder of all we don’t know is expressing itself continually into the void.  And we are part of that expression.

I propose active submission to that greater intention.  We can engage the gorgeous paradox of acting, in complete rest, into that intention.  There is direction available to us for action.  We connect with it when we, as Gerald May has put it so well, eschew willfulness and embrace willingness.

When we submit (read “allow connection of”) ourselves, all our intentions and all our actions, with confidence to Creation/Spirit/Mind/Source (read words I use for God), we move forward, acting with compassion from a position of expectation, the joy and surprise of creation.  We are not exhausted.  We do not despair, nor do we fear or avoid walking forward.

We cannot know.  We do not need to know.  Our satisfaction comes in submitting ourselves and all our gifts to the intelligent Whole, being and acting rather than owning and resisting.

Exhaustion and despair are the net of our selfish frenzy under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Rest and compassionate action join as one for health and wholeness under the Tree of Life.  Come with me, dear one, to the place of wonder and deep satisfaction.

© Jerry S Kennell, Two Trees in the Garden.  Feel free to quote, as useful, with proper reference.

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Jerry Kennell provides spiritual direction in person and by Skype at Two Trees Center for Spiritual Development.  Contact jerry@2treegarden.com or by phone or text to (970) 217-6078.  Click FOLLOW above to be notified of future posts.