Find the Calm: Advice from Manjushri
In these frightening and turbulent times, there are powerful ways to stay awake and stay calm. Read on!
I woke in a pool of sadness and distress this morning, lonely and discouraged and without energy for any task. Underneath that lay great swaths of grief over the continuing attacks on the essential institutions of the country and the foundational rule of law. I’m overwhelmed by the staggering greed and corruption among people of great power, now so visible, so shameless. One question is why do people do that, live that way? It is certainly not out of need or any privation.
But the question I intended to ask you this morning was not that one. Rather, I meant to ask you for advice about how to gather up one’s small shreds of energy and return to the tasks of the day and of a life, when so utterly discouraged and heart-sore. How can one “keep calm and carry on”? Keeping calm in situations like this seems a small but helpful contribution to those around me, also struggling with the chaos and unpredictability of these pandemic times.
Yes, indeed. And good morning.
When you are swamped by those feelings of helplessness and isolation, it reflects that you have, for the moment, lost your grounding in the deeper reality of the Sacred, of the heart of the universe and its intention that all life flourish. When you light your candles and settle down with your unquiet mind, slowly you settle into that subtle awareness, of what we might call, the layers of reality. For there are multiple layers of reality, and whichever one you pay attention to will tell you different stories about who and what you are. Even a simple meditation can help you let one inadequate story go and allow a more spacious story to arise.
For this to move smoothly, you must be familiar with several such stories. Then, with a little prompt and assistance and intention, you can switch stories. This is essentially what a spiritual practice offers: a new story, perhaps several, reflecting ever wiser and inclusive views of reality and the human condition, on one hand, and then, skills at switching stories. An alert practitioner can choose which level, which story, she needs in any moment. Sometimes, the simplest of all is what is appropriate – to make breakfast, to do laundry, to pay bills. And sometimes it is crucial to drop to the deepest story level you can, to rest, to receive the energy of Spirit, to surrender to the deepest rhythms of your life.
So, if you awake full of discouragement and loneliness, you are caught in a story that is too narrow, too full of defeat. You might say, it is a product of an old version of ego, if you wish. It is respectful to recognize it and its emotional burdens, but it is not necessary to surrender to it entirely. You might ask if it has some message for you, that would be helpful at that moment. And then, message received, you can choose to set the conditions for allowing another story, another level of awareness, to arise.
This is not a method of denial or self-propaganda. It is necessarily subtle and nuanced, and it requires sensitive discernment. A skilled practitioner will recognize when this is being done carefully, in respect of Spirit and truth. That just takes practice and self-awareness. And We are always willing to bring to bear the Sword of Discernment, if you ask.
We might say, then, rather than “Keep calm,” “Find the calm” and then, live your deepest life.
Deep thanks. Deep thanks.