Trying to figure out how a nation can be a noble force in a savage world, it helps first to understand how individuals can do it.
Times of adversity sometimes bring out the best in people… but more often it brings out the worst—fear, grief, rage….
When gripped by mental anguish, whether from grief or guilt or shame or longing or fear or anger or animosity, a couple of things happen:
1) Our hormones kick in to make us react emotionally… pout, cry, yell, fight, binge, escape, lose sleep, wish someone bad fortune, wish someone’s demise, wish our own demise…
… and at the same time…
2) Our finer spirit, deep within, assures us that no matter how painful, no matter how great the suffering, no matter how severe the offense against us… there’s always a lifeline within reach that can bring profound inner peace while the storm rages around us.
Strong emotions can be loud and oppressive in our conscious mind, while spirit speaks softly, sometimes almost inaudibly.
So in dire times, when it seems like the end of the road, it’s really just a fork, or crossroads. One way leads to expediency, the other to eternity.
To approach a crisis expediently, we do what we have to do to deal with the emotions as they arise within us… one day at a time… one situation at a time.
The eternal approach involves the connection between our conscious mind and our finest self at the center of our being. That’s something we foster over time, and as we do that, the messages from our finer spirit grow clearer and stronger in our mind.
It’s our birthright as noble-savage human beings—animals on the outside, angels on the inside—to walk both paths during our lifetimes on Earth.
To master life on Earth, we can learn how to walk both paths at the same time… as did all the great peacemakers, from Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, to Jesus.
This article provides some tips to get the most out of each path.
The Expedient Way
To deal with our own troubled emotions, it’s important to understand them as built-in warnings for things happening around us that we need to know about. Ignoring our emotions or repressing them can lead to all sorts of illnesses, including cancer and arthritis. So can trying to keep them under control or just venting them.
The healthy thing to do is to feel our emotions, process them, and release them. It may not be pleasant, but it’s certainly healthy. Share your feelings with your spouse, a close friend, or a therapist.
Women often have an easier time with this than men do… both in sharing their feelings and in listening to other people share theirs. For me, one of the many benefits of being married is having a wife who’s both patient and encouraging as I struggle to share my feelings, which has never come easily to me. Listening to her share her feelings has never come naturally or comfortably to me either, but it’s a skill I’ve been developing over the years.
In any case, the expedient way to face a difficult time is to learn how to deal appropriately with the feelings that get stirred up inside us by the situation.
The Eternal Way
The eternal way to meet difficult times is a life-long process rather than a reaction to existing conditions. It involves opening communication channels between the head and the heart… between the carnal mind and the soul.
All of the great religions and mystical schools stress the importance of connecting our conscious self with our finest self or soul, and they provide techniques that anyone can practice.
- Give your life over to Christ, through prayer, devotion, and fellowship (Christianity).
- Submit your will to Allah, through the five pillars (Islam).
- When your life becomes unmanageable, turn it over to a higher power, and learn to sustain a conscious contact with the higher power, through the 12-step process (AA).
- Practice the presence of God, through the teachings of Joel Goldsmith (The Infinite Way).
- Experience Brahman consciousness, through meditation (Hinduism).
- Experience nirvana, through meditation (Buddhism).
- Awaken the kundalini through exercise, breath work, and meditation (Yoga).
All of these great paths can move us along the eternal way.
In recent years my favorite technique by far has been a simple, generic heart meditation.
Practicing heart meditation or any of the other time-proven techniques on a regular basis can open the channels between our conscious mind and the eternal source, so that wisdom, understanding, and peace can stream more smoothly into our lives. Usually it’s a gradual process, but there are cases of rapid spiritual transformation.
Walking Both Paths
The more we master the eternal way, the more inner peace we experience in our lives, and the less we need to rely on the expedient way… as the dramas going on around us have less and less impact.
We can never abandon the expedient way altogether, though. This is, after all, a noble-savage world we inhabit, and to live here is to get caught up in dramas that stir up emotions. Our emotions become easier to deal with as we practice the eternal way… but they never seem to disappear until we leave this world of drama.
So, all it takes to master life on Earth is to practice some techniques until they become routine—an eternal technique to connect us to the greatest source of inner peace, and some expedient techniques that can help us deal with emotional situations as they arise.
Next article I hope to explain how skills to become noble individuals could boil over into techniques to help build more noble nations.
Other articles in the Fixing America series:
Northern Europe Does it Right
1 The Problems
2 Basic Income, One Solution
3 More Thoughts on Basic Income
4 Basic Income and Wealth Tax
5 Basic Income and the Fertility Rate
6 Restoring a Good Reputation
7 Contending with Savage Forces
8 Being a Noble Force
9. A Comprehensive Solution
10. Marching Toward the End Time
11. The Destructive 1 Percent
12. Overcoming America’s Oil Addiction