by Cynthia Neil
By any measure we are living in tumultuous, even revolutionary times. Religious zealots around the world are slaughtering each other, as well as anybody else with a belief system ‘offensive’ to their own. Multinational corporations are trying to control and manipulate the food supply from seed to table. Plagues are crossing international borders, and ignorance and greed rule the governing processes from one end of the world to the other.
How easy it is to wonder, “What in the world am I doing here? Did I really choose this? Do I have a purpose? Are we random sparks in an infinite universe?
“Do I really belong HERE?”
The most powerful and under-appreciated gift of being human is our power to choose. A starting point for this conversation is the idea offered by Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
What a wake-up call this thought can be. We are so much more than the meat suit that many choose to believe is our whole reality. What is your first reaction to the idea that your body is a suit of clothes? One we change when it gets old and wears out? But to know that for sure we have to look for it. Life and our experiences change depending on the state of our consciousness, and our consciousness determines our responses in disturbing situations.
The Hindu Vedas suggest that there are seven ascending levels of consciousness. The more evolved our conscious awareness, the easier it is to see the right answer in any seemingly thorny set of circumstances. And the easier it is to see that there is a lesson we are supposed to learn, in every experience.
The faster we learn the lesson the easier it is to move on to the next one. But if we choose not to get the message — and that is always a choice — the situation surrounding the moment dissipates, goes off the stage of your life for a time and comes back re-costumed and recast to give you another crack at it. The learning never ends, because that is where we are, in an infinitely adaptable classroom.
This world of wonder and pain is here to teach us how and who to be, what to value and what to let go of. What is real and what is not. How fast or slow we learn it, and how harsh or easy the lessons, depends on us, and our choices in any given situation.
There was a wonderful illustration of how this works in the original Star Trek series. An episode called “Shore Leave.”
The landing party beams down and finds that their strongest thoughts or desires start showing up as concrete realities. A white knight for a female yeoman; an upperclassman Kirk had wanted one last fist-fight with. And in each of these situations nothing worked out as the person thought it would. Because the people, Kirk and the yeoman, didn’t react as they expected they would. On this planet they created their reality, but they didn’t know that if they didn’t get the memo.
Earth is very much that planet at a subtler, cellular level. Contemporary physics shows us that. We create our reality with every breath we take and every choice we make. It reflects back at us our every emotion and every action based in that emotion, both kind and cruel. How we use that truth is up to us.
Whether we even see that truth is up to us. Shift your vision, and you shift your life. Even in those moments when you feel like a stranger in a strange land, remember: the very fact that you arrived here as you is a miracle. Try to visualize the many possibilities, from a peach to a manatee to a banana slug, that could have been your life, and here you are a conscious human choice-maker.
With millions of galaxies scattered across an infinite universe, you ended up a carbon-based life form on this life-supporting ball of rock. You have senses capable of savoring the most delicate silk and the roughest steel-cut oats. Those are your gifts. What are your choices?
You are your choices. Your life is your choice. Your intentions and desires create your world. In a very real sense what you see is what you get, because at your core you are energy. And that is what you send out into the world even when you don’t know you are doing anything.
So much of our lives are spent deciding without thinking: “Dove or Palmolive?” instead of, “Shouldn’t I be doing something different?” And only we can wake up to that awareness.
An example of this I see all the time comes with my morning coffee. Almost every morning I make my coffee, but some mornings (for whatever reason) I will stop and pick it up.
Mary Ann’s, Dunkin or Starbucks? How easy is the parking? How long is the line? By the time I get to the barista, how do I ask for my coffee? Because how I react to every one of those situations will affect the quality of my morning cup every single time.
At least four times with regard to my morning coffee, I must make a choice, and the choice I make will affect my energy and my energy will in turn affect my coffee. At any point I can be thrown off my stride, which will affect my attitude, and my attitude will affect the barista which will (again if I choose) potentially cause a cascade of negative effects turning a good morning into a bad day. When was the last time you looked at how many decisions go into obtaining a simple cup of coffee?
What changes if you ‘get the memo’? If you know this is a classroom, and you are here to learn things? If you know that every choice you make has a consequence, and that every situation you find yourself in has one answer that is right for both you and the world around you, how will your decision-making change?
What if simply by shifting your own paradigm you can see that you are being put in the same situation over and over again because when you are in the situation, you keep making the same choice? Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
He also said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Too often we humans lose sight of the miracle. Because we are the miracle, and the miracle is our opportunities for choice. Every single one of them matters. We are the universe writ small, the fractures we see in the world mirror the fractures we perpetuate within ourselves when we live our lives on automatic pilot.
One choice at a time, one situation at a time, we can heal the world. Although perhaps not as we would think. We are, all of us, works in progress; too often we spend our precious time worrying about someone else’s nonsense instead of taking care of our own business. We can’t change their nonsense but we CAN fix our business.
Five years ago, I was more than a hundred pounds overweight, locked into behaviors habituated by years of emotional abuse and neglect of my own needs. I was lucky enough to be able to see the hamster wheel, and one step at a time, one choice at a time, walk away from it. I am remaking my life into the miracle it is supposed to be, and doing my kinds of service along the way.
I teach meditation and Yoga, self-acceptance and personal responsibility. I acknowledge my ripple in my little pond and focus on never hurting anyone with it. We all make a difference, we all have a ripple, we ALL belong here. It is whether or not we choose to wake up enough to do what we came here for, which will decide the quality of our life — and by extension our destiny.
Cynthia Neil is a meditation and yoga teacher who lives and writes on Cape Cod. A lifelong Aquarian, her passions include physics, philosophy and astrology, and the people who make them possible.