“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.” --Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The events of the past week have triggered significant grief for what it means to live in a world where violence, hatred and acts of war seem to be oddly becoming normalized.
Even some “spiritual” teachers are drawn into the suffering. Yesterday, a young Instagram guru asked her large following why they keep pressuring her to post her teachings after the eruption of violence in the middle east. Visibly irritated, she said, “It’s all just a symptom of ego. Don’t pay attention to the surface.” Her voice and mannerisms held little compassion.
What comes up when you consider “the abyss” Maharaj is referencing?
Nietzsche wrote, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” He is referring to the struggle when confronting the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves, viewing it as a place of danger as well as a place of growth and transformation.
The abyss through the Judeo-Christian lens is symbolic of hell, destruction or death. “The dwelling place of demons and the beast.” Psychology would describe this as the exiled or shadow parts of ourselves. The ones we deny and hide from the world.
While the unintegrated ego may be responsible for violence and war, I don’t believe it is a problem that can be fixed or intentionally denied but a process that is happening in our collective human evolution. A process that does not need additional violence, numbness and polarization. Counterintuitively, it may need a deliberate dose of patience, compassion and collective grace.
What does it mean for the ego to become integrated?
Take ‘us vs. them’ out of our vocabulary for a moment. If We can see who WE are (without judgment), even this moment can be welcomed as part of our evolutionary journey. If WE could have done it any other way, WE would have. This very moment could be met with compassion for THE suffering that is here.
A new consciousness happens in the recognition of oneness – “our family--our planet”. From this new consciousness will arise new behaviors and creative actions. As Einstein wrote, “We cannot solve problems from the same consciousness that created them.”
So, what can I do to support a new consciousness?
Meditation teacher and psychologist, Tara Brach recently said, “If we are to bridge the divides of hatred and vengeance in the world, we need to first bridge the inner divides and all the ways we wage war on ourselves. In this way, we are part of the healing.”
Meditation relaxes the sharp edges of dual thinking so all perspectives can be revealed. Stillness helps us hold the uncertainty of the moment. Most importantly, meditation helps to awaken and soften a hardened heart so it can become more inclusive until it becomes a safe and sturdy bridge through the abyss.
“There is so much division in this world. So what is really the path of healing? It can begin in this moment, by embracing the life that’s here.” --Tara Brach
“To flourish and keep evolving, we need to know how to make peace with the truth of uncertainty.” --Tara Brach