Dickens could not have said it better in his opening to A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only”.
Some people would say 2016 was a great year. Others would say they had suffered; that this had been a difficult year. Depending on our lessons and how well we learned them, the year was great or hard.
We can intellectually know our responsibility is to walk towards Love with brutal honesty within ourselves. That is why we are here: to go Home. But until we each do that, when even one of us is suffering, we are all suffering.
So as individuals we may have had a good or even “the best” year. But we in the truest sense did not. We in the understanding of Absolute Reality had a great year—never had a bad one. But until we each live in abheda (Unity) and manifest bhedabheda, seeing the unity in the diversity, there is a part of us that remains in bheda (multiplicity) and therefore suffers.
Amid all this suffering, without empathy and compassion we cannot move forward; otherwise all we will manifest is a smugness that contributes to the division and hate in this world.
Dickens was writing about a time of great upheaval. We are living in a time of global upheaval, a time when governments are serving the people less and less, and instead serving the pleasure of their leaders. They are self-serving; the representatives and associates of the government from top to bottom are its chief beneficiaries. And though the time that Dickens wrote about started out as hopeful, in the end everyone suffered. There was no winning side; just two sides of the same coin.
As we move into 2017, what is it we must contribute? My wish for each of us is to move towards truly living the Unity in the diversity. To experience this in our everyday lives so that we overcome the hate that has stained the very fiber of our lives.
We cannot just decide to do this. We have to have courage. The path is steep and dangerous, but we each have to climb. We can try it alone and see how far we go, or we can have a guide who has climbed the sheer side and knows how to help us. We can also share with community. But in not doing it alone we have to be willing to surrender the shrunken self that separates us from the guide and community.
In other words, we have to surrender the very thing that keeps us suffering. This seems easy enough, and of course we would want to do that. But we do not. And changing the vocabulary in our narrative to sound lofty does nothing but perpetuate our own pain and the pain of others. We are to surrender the individual that thinks. We tend to believe we need to get rid of the dysfunctional thinker and keep the “good” thinker. No: we have to surrender the thinker.
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. For whom? In 2017, can we discern that there is only us? Can we at the very least refrain from contributing to hate and division?
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