Hey fellow Pathfinders, it’s Rob with another way to be happy at the end of the world.
In this one I’m going to hit you with something hard (sorry) and then I’m going to make it feel better than ever, so trust me and stick around to the end.
This civilisation is finished.
And that’s OK.
Because in our blood are the memories of our ancestors who have survived ice ages, floods, famine, war, pestilence and every horror imaginable. We wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t.
We’ve done this all before.
“Perhaps”, a part of me says “but it still hurts”.
Of course it hurts, but it needn’t hurt in time. Deep down, I reassure myself, this pain is all bound up in perception and attachment both of which I have the ability to affect.
So I tell myself a little story to try it out and it goes like this…
Our privilege in the West is catching up with us. The fear instilled in us by the thought of our civilisation being over is the same fear that we have instilled in others for several centuries by painting the leaves and people of the world in White European thought and culture. Now that everything is so thoroughly painted over, many of us have known nothing else than painted leaves on dying trees and we wonder where all the birds went.
And so I remind myself of the paint and I see it for what it is: a way of seeing the world, a creation, conscious or otherwise, based on the perception and belief of the painters who see (and have for a long time seen) the world with a detachment and arrogance that leads them to think that they can improve it. That they must improve it and make it in their own image. That things as they are, people as they are, life as it is and the cosmos as we find it to be, is not enough. And so they set to work painting over it. And we’ve all been painting ever since, even when those we seek to paint over tell us the folly of our efforts and predict with startling accuracy how it will all end in tears.
I see too that my own perception is a two-way thing: I project out into the world a light that is coloured and distorted by my thoughts and beliefs, which bounces off of all the things I perceive, right back into my eyes, my mind, heart and soul where I often falsely assume that I am seeing something entirely outside of me and for the very first time.
But it’s a reflection. And what’s more, the more I look at it the more I realise that my interpretation of that reflection does not have to be unconscious, that I can in fact participate in it. I can choose. I can also, it turns out (after making countless mistakes and enduring a great deal of self-inflicted suffering) choose what kind of light I send out, what I bounce it off of and how I interpret it when it comes back. And in doing so I am an active participant in the creation of my own reality.
If I’m awake to it. And so often I’m not because I find it incredibly hard at times to be that responsible - it’s exhausting. It’s also incredibly fun to learn about the world, but it’s hard.
I say it’s hard but to be more specific, what is really hard is the letting go; an incredibly simple act in itself perhaps - just stop doing what you’re doing - but it’s incredibly hard nonetheless because deep down, letting go is the relinquishment of known, experienced, relative safety, for an unknown; for an uncertainty.
It so often feels far safer to stay where I am than to let go and jump into another way of seeing and being in the world, to let go of my long held beliefs and to create new ones, even though I know I can no longer stay where I am because I realise that helping to paint the world doesn’t serve me.
I know that letting go will set me free and yet I hesitate.
So I take a look at freedom and imagine what it is and I see that perhaps it is nothing more than a feeling of no longer being bound by all the fears that stop me letting go.
So as I look at the end of civilisation I ask myself what it might take to let go of any and all the thoughts and beliefs, frames of reference and ways of perceiving the world that lead me to feeling scared and unsafe. What would it be like to let go of any fear and doubt, limitations, blocks and trauma that are triggered when I look at it? What would remain when they are all gone?
Unconditional love for all life, all people and myself. Acceptance, surrender and love.
What would it take to love it all, to love everything unconditionally? To fall in love with the world, all of it, every little bit? I’d have to let go of my fears and doubts.
Which leads me to ask some practical questions for my life: how do I do that? How do I cultivate conditions within me to perceive the world in such a way that I see the world and everything in it with unconditional love?
Perhaps with more gratitude, compassion, forgiveness and appreciation.
And most importantly of all: how can I create conditions within me to perceive the world in such a way that enables everyone I encounter to be fearless expressions of their own true nature, full of unconditional love for themselves, others and all of life? And for me to love them, no matter who they are, no matter how different their expression of their own true nature is from mine.
How do I do that?
I don’t think that question can ever be fully answered, in fact, it might even take a lifetime of asking and the answers I get may well be different every single day.
Maybe that’s enough for here and now, for me at least.
Maybe I could even tell myself that in loving life unconditionally, with a collapsing civilisation or without, I am even helping to create conditions conducive to life. Because maybe, after all, that’s exactly what love is.
So if we want to know if we are on the right track, doing the right thing, creating the world we need and want, living the lives we want, helping to regenerate the Earth, all I need to do is check how I’m feeling and ask “Is this love?” and then change the way I’m seeing, thinking and acting until the answer is inescapably “yes”.
Perhaps that’s enough, perhaps that’s a start at least. Perhaps The Beatles had it right all along - love is all you need.