Much of the impetus for writing this month's newsletter was stimulated by my re-reading of Eckhart Tolle's 2005 publication - A New Earth. In 'A New Earth' Tolle examines the role of the ego and speaks specifically to the activity of war. Tolle declares, "War is a mind-set."
Tolle explains, "There is a deep interrelatedness between your state of consciousness and external reality." In other words, the wars that followed the events of September 2001 were not caused by the events of the eleventh day of that month. Rather, the wars that began with that event and continue to this day are a reflection of the collective unconsciousness of the human society. The wars are the result of the collective dysfunction and insanity of the human mind.
Author Paul Levy in his work, The Madness of George W. Bush speaks from the same perspective. Levy introduces his work with the statement, "If you think this book is about the madness of George W Bush, you will be disappointed. This book is about our collective madness. George W is simply a reflection of our "collective psychosis". His rise to power and his ability to enact the kind of decisions made is a reflection of who we are.
There were alternatives to war in 2001. I clearly remember the discussion that followed in the wake of September 11th. I remember the voices that encouraged us to use the events of that day as a catalyst to examine the role the United States had been playing on the world stage and how their culture and values may have contributed to the purported attack.
Unfortunately those calling for increased consciousness, for discussion, reflection and examination of personal responsibility were drown out by those calling for armed military intervention, retaliation, and retribution of those perceived to be the attackers.
What Tolle and Levy are speaking to is our cultural norm to go to war. Beyond the external enemy (which has been in existence almost non-stop for the past one hundred years), we have been at war with many things - drugs, crime, poverty, cancer, and terrorism among others. On a more personal level, our need to be right causes us to go to war with our neighbours, partners, families and our workmates.
The problem with going to war is that we strengthen what ever it is we fight against. Tolle writes, "Unconsciousness cannot be defeated by attacking it. Even if you defeat your opponent, the unconsciousness will simply have moved into you, or the opponent reappears in a new disguise." We certainly have witnessed the truth of this statement over the past ten years.
What is the Solution?
The solution is for each of us individually and collectively to examine our own unconscious behaviours. The path out of unconsciousness is to examine and root out those beliefs and attitudes that permit us to do harm to another and to use war as a way to resolve our most complex challenges.
The cause of war is not the 'terrorist'. The cause is our collective unconsciousness. The threat is not another. The biggest threat we face is our failure to treat all living beings and species with respect and dignity. The solution will ultimately be found in changing our selves rather than changing the other.
Tolle encourages us to become aware of the forces of fear, anger or hostility as they move through us. To notice when our mind is racing to defend its position, to justify, attack, or blame. In other words to acknowledge when there is something in us that feels threatened and wants to survive at all costs. In these moments, to pause and notice our unconsciousness, then identify with the part of us that notices. This is our higher self. This is our conscious Being.
And so when the images and rhetoric of that eventful day are re-broadcast, as I anticipate they will, it is my hope you not allow yourself to become hijacked emotionally and pulled into an even deeper state of unconsciousness. Rather, that you use this as an opportunity to move to higher consciousness and awareness of self.
We might even consider responding as we were instructed more than two thousand years ago - "love thy enemy".
May you have a peaceful September 2011.