Beyond the Wounded Warrior Part II
Revolution doesn’t have to do with smashing something; it has to do with bringing something forth. If you spend all your time thinking about that which you are attacking, then you are negatively bound to it. You have to find the zeal in yourself and bring it out. That is what is given to you—one life to live. Marx teaches us to blame society for our frailties; Freud teaches us to blame our parents; astrology teaches us to blame the universe. The only place to look for blame is within: you didn’t have the guts to bring your full moon and live the life that was your potential. ∞ Joseph Campbell
As near as I can tell, there are three approaches to the present world dilemma. There are the New Agers (some, not all) who want to bathe everything in light and good intentions as if wishing were a panacea. There are the traditional warriors and activists who are fighting against sexism, Monsanto, racism…They are fighting against injustice and so remain negatively bound to it as Joseph Campbell so aptly explained in the quote above.
Finally, there are the visionaries. The visionaries are bringing something forth.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a visionary. He had a dream of equality for all people and today an African American man is president of the United States. Everything Martin Luther King, Jr. did was oriented toward bringing his vision to life. His commitment to his vision was an “until death do us part” vow and he lived it to the very end. He was a man of action. In his famous speech now dubbed, I Have a Dream, he stated:
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Thank God Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a wild eyed boy caught in his aggression and negatively bound to fighting against something. Thank goodness Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t succumb to the idea that we can change everything by changing our thoughts. He was not an airy fairy dreamer lost in the stars. He was neither caught in the passivity of despair and magical thinking nor was he engulfed by his anger and blinded by his rage.
He took his revolutionary ideas and did something about them. He set out to create a greater degree of inclusion within American society and he did it. His commitment to his vision of creating something greater than himself is evident in his actions. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader and the embodiment of the warrior archetype.
Many people want to kill off the warrior.
They say the time of the warrior’s usefulness has long passed and that we are better off without the warrior’s spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a pristine example of why we need the the visionary warrior! We need the warrior now more than ever!
At this moment, we find ourselves at a global tipping point. This is a personal tipping point for every person on this planet and it is a tipping point for the earth itself. We can’t afford to allow our despair and our wishful thinking to lead us down the track of apathy. We also cannot afford to take the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” Similarly, we do not have the luxury of wasting our effort and our energy fighting against something. We must create a new vision and be about the business of bringing that vision to life.
We are at the crossroads between an old vision for the world and a new vision.
The recent happenings surrounding Monsanto are a perfect representation of the crossroads. In his book, Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa addressed this very thing. He talked about the difference between the setting-sun vision and the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.
In describing the setting-sun world Trungpa used a food analogy. How apropos! He said that in the setting-sun vision, cleaning up after a meal is viewed as dirty work. “Having a nice meal is fine, but who is going to wash the dishes? We would prefer to leave that to someone else.” He said that:
Thousands of tons of leftovers are discarded every year. When people go to restaurants, often they are served giant platefuls of food, more than they can eat, to satisfy the giant desire of their minds…The leftovers are thrown into the garbage. All that food is wasted, absolutely wasted…That is indeed a setting-sun approach. You have a giant vision, which you can’t consume, and you end up throwing most of it away. There is not even a program to recycle the leftovers. Everything goes in the dump.
He continued with the social implications of the setting-sun world as follows:
That approach produces an oppressive social hierarchy in the setting-sun world; there are those who get rid of other people’s dirt and those who take pleasure in producing the dirt. Those people who have money can continue to enjoy their food and ignore the leftovers. They can pay for luxury and ignore reality…Everything is compartmentalized, so you never experience things completely. We are not talking purely about food; we are talking about everything that goes on in the setting-sun world: packaged food, packaged vacations, package deals of all kinds.
Monsanto is a package deal from the setting-sun world.
You get poisons to kill weeds and then you get seeds that are modified to withstand the poisons. All of this in the name of profits for Monsanto, higher crop yields for the farmer, and so they say, lower prices for the consumer (though I have my doubts).
Because Monsanto is a package deal in a setting-sun world, there is no real point in pitting ourselves against Monsanto. As long as the world exists in a setting-sun vision there will be Monsantos. Even if we manage to kill this Monsanto we will find that we are still in an endless game of whack-a-mole with all of the various Monsantos that will come to take its place.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should avoid addressing Monsanto’s behavior. What I am saying is that we may succeed at improving life in the setting sun world in this way or that way, but there will always be a new threat so long as we live in the setting-sun frame of reference. The social hierarchy and supporting legal structures of the setting-sun world demand it.
For instance, I suppose it is possible that Monsanto’s executives wake up in the morning looking for ways to kill bees and murder the earth in some kind of wild triumph of man over matter. But there is something less sinister and far more insidious at work than a few depraved individuals hell bent on destroying life as we know it.
Monsanto’s executives very likely wake up in the morning and begin to track the scent of money.
The are money blood hounds. That is why Monsanto hired them. Monsanto is an institution that exists to fulfill a simple legal mandate: maximize shareholder value. That is it. Plane and simple. Monsanto is following it’s setting-sun mandate to make more money for its shareholders so they can enjoy as much food as they like without ever having to worry about the leftovers.
If you want to change the world, you have got to change the rules of the game. We have to start with ourselves. We cannot pretend that Monsanto exists in a vacuum separate and apart from us and our choices as individuals and as a society.
It is tempting to see ourselves and the farmers who buy from Monsanto as unwitting victims of a corporate dominance scheme. This is a useless perspective. It disempowers us.
The truth is that Monsanto is a market player in the setting-sun world.
It exists because of and in the context of its relationship to all of us. In its relationship to us, Monsanto is doing what market players seek to do in a setting-sun world – secure a market for its goods.
Monsanto has customers. Those customers make choices. They are choosing to buy Monsanto products. They want to increase their yields, they want to wring as much as possible out of every acre of land. Monsanto’s customers have customers, the many people who buy their products, including you and me.
Consumers, myself included, have, up until now, largely been content to buy products without understanding them. Convenience, taste, and price have been the most important choice points. Our choices, up until now, have caused a whole host of systemic and personal problems. We have made setting-sun choices seeing only our tiny lives and our tiny struggles – too much to do, too little time – too much to buy, too little money. We have preferred to leave not just the cleanup, but even the joy of preparation, to someone else as we have gone about our prepackaged lives.
If we are honest, Monsanto has done us a huge favor with its horrors and overreaching.
What was hidden in our collective agreement to abdicate responsibility and self examination is now visible.
The shadow has come into the light. Monsanto has unwittingly become the point of resistance that has wholeheartedly focused our attention on how we grow and consume our food. Monsanto has sounded a kind of alarm. We can no longer ignore our food choices. We must awaken. We must encourage others to awaken. We must encourage Monsanto and Monsanto’s customers to awaken.
We must awaken into what Chogyam Trungpa called the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. The way of the Great Eastern Sun is rooted in human dignity. According to Trungpa:
...The vision of the Great Eastern Sun is based on celebrating life...The way of the Great Eastern Sun is based on seeing what is needed and how things happen organically…Great Eastern Sun hierarchy is based on seeing that there is a natural source of radiance and brilliance in the world – which is the innate wakefulness of human beings.
If we are to awaken to this new perspective, we must really know and accept ourselves. We must arrest our self definition from our televisions, governments, friends, relatives, and neighbors. This is why the most revolutionary act of all is the act of self definition.
Without self definition nothing more is possible.
The transition to the vision of the Great Eastern Sun can never happen unless we learn to define ourselves. We will be to busy guarding our wounds, our comfort, and our illusion. We will remain stuck in the way of the setting-sun, which is all about avoiding ourselves and eschewing messiness and dirt on the one hand (as the New Agers do) and fighting aggressively and pointlessly against death on the other.
I am calling you today to a new kind of warriorship.
This new vision of warriorship starts with personal healing. It starts by giving up the notion that the cause is somewhere out there. It is time to get a hold of yourself, face your pain, and arrest your self definition from the hands of those who would seek to manipulate your lack of self esteem and your lack of connection to your true worth.
Chogyam Trungpa said, “The key to warriorship…is not being afraid of who you are..”
Once you know who you are and can face and embrace all of you, you will become the guardian of your own worth. It will be impossible to distract you by scratching at old wounds and attempting to break your self esteem. Nothing and no one will be able to separate you from yourself or from your mission. Chogyam Trungpa has defined our Eastern Sun mission beautifully: “To express basic goodness in its most complete, fresh, and brilliant form.”
From this perspective, from this orientation towards expressing basic goodness, whole avenues open up that are less about fighting an enemy and more about creating something new. These new avenues are about constantly calling yourself and everyone around you to awaken.
From this new frame of reference, old enemies present themselves as potential allies even if their only function is to call you, the warrior, into greater awareness and deeper relationship with some part of your own life.
From this perspective, Monsanto you could almost see Monsanto as an ally. Monsanto has called upon us all to awaken – much to its chagrin, I am sure. It has alerted us to our setting-sun way. At the very least, Monsanto has awakened the ire of those who have been working tirelessly of late to raise our awareness while also calling upon us to demand and begin creating a different approach to food security – one that honors the basic goodness of the earth and of human life.
I could easily stop here. But there is one more piece to this vision of the Great Eastern Sun. It is about tenderness and going beyond fear to remain present to what is.
Chogyam Trungpa said, “Warriorship is a continual journey. To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life. That is the warrior’s discipline.”
He tied this kind of warriorship directly to having witnessed your own basic goodness. He said, “Unless we can discover that ground of goodness in our own lives, we cannot hope to improve the lives of others.”
This is what happened to me as a result of my search for my authentic self in Chiapas and the breakdown that followed. I managed to finally witness my own basic goodness and it freed me up to become the warrior with the tender open heart and the willingness to be genuine and to see things and feel things as they genuinely are.
The moment I chose to embody Ma’at, nothing else was possible. Ma’at’s function is to weigh the heart of the dead against the weight of her feather of justice. If the heart is lighter than the feather the person is reincarnated. If it is not, the person's soul is destroyed.
Ma’at’s kind of justice is all about the tenderness of your heart.
When I left my old life behind, I considered many options. I considered everything from global activism to water management to practicing law under a different set of rules (more cooperative less adversarial). I ultimately settled on, perhaps, a more ambitious plan. My Great Eastern Sun contribution to the world is to guide people in their search for their authentic sense of themselves and to put them in touch with their basic goodness so that they can live freely and contribute magnificently.
In the Shambhala tradition, discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart...The ideal of warriorship is that the warrior should be sad and tender, and because of that, the warrior can be very brave as well. ∞ Chogyam Trungpa
I invite you to do this tender-heart work for yourself and for the world.
Open just a crack to the sadness and the seriousness of our global dilemma.
Allow yourself to see what really is and to then go beyond your fear to the point of envisioning what can be from the perspective of the Great Eastern Sun.
But don’t stop there.
Go a step further.
Find your own way of marching squarely in the direction of this new vision.
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