Sometimes when I encounter pioneers in a certain domain of alternative culture, I get the feeling that even if they are doing their work on a small scale, perhaps within a small ecovillage, an isolated prison, a single community in a war zone or gang zone, that they are doing that work on behalf of us all, and that the changes they make in themselves create a kind of template that the rest of us can follow, and do in a short time what took them decades of effort and learning. When I see, for example, how my friend R. has, in the face of near-impossible odds, so profoundly healed from being abused as a child, I think, “If she can heal, it means that millions like her can too; and her healing smooths the path for them.”
Sometimes I take it even a step further. One time at a men’s retreat one of the participants showed us burn scars on his penis, the result of cigarette burns administered by a foster parent when he was five years old to punish him. The man was going through a powerful process of release and forgiveness. In a flash, I perceived that his reason for being here on Earth was to receive and heal from this wound, as an act of world-changing service to us all. I said to him, “J., if you accomplish nothing else this lifetime but to heal from this, you will have done the world a great service.” The truth of that was palpable to all present……
musical interlude: Sweet Honey In the Rock, “On Children”
So, whatever your reasons for choosing to do great things or small, do not let them be the urgent, fearful belief that only the big, public things have any chance of influencing the masses and saving the world. As I will describe later in the book, part of the revolution in which we are participating is a revolution in how we make our choices. To do the possible, the old way works fine. When we have a map from A to B, we can just follow the directions. Now is not that time. The calculable results are not enough. We need miracles. We have caught a glimpse of our destination, the destination that hope foretells, but we have no idea how to get there. We walk an invisible path with no map and cannot see where any turning will lead.
I wish I could say that the new story provides a map, but it does not. It can, however, remove the disorienting fog of habits and beliefs, leftovers of the old paradigms, that obscure our internal guidance system. The principles of interbeing do not, on their own, offer a formula for decision making. Even if you accept that “I and the world are one,” you will not be able to distinguish whether it will benefit all sentient beings more to stay home and reduce your carbon emissions, or to drive to the rally to protest fracking. To attempt such a calculation draws from the old story, which seeks to quantify everything, to add up the effects of any action, and to make choices accordingly. That way of making choices is useful only in certain, narrow circumstances—in particular, those in which cause and effect are more or less linear. It is appropriate for many engineering problems and financial decisions. It is the mindset of the actuary, weighing risks and payoffs. The new story is a much bigger change than to revalue the risks and seek new payoffs. It is not going to help you make choices from the calculating mind. But it will provide a logical framework within which our heart-based choices make a lot more sense.
music: Pru Clearwater, “God Flow Through Me”