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Times of Testing Faith
or
Becoming Whole in Dangerous Days

As I write in the Spring of 2006, these are the pressing questions that rise to the surface.


How should people of the Spirit respond to the rapidly deteriorating situation in America?What are we to make of an elected leadership that sanctions preemptive strikes and torture?

Of self-styled religious authorities who recommend assassinating foreign presidents?

Of men too cowardly to fight for their country when young, and who now send others to die to enrich their friends?

How is it possible to take seriously men and women who, while maintaining they are churchgoing, religious people, can rationalize destroying innocent lives in the name of their God?

Or, how did we arrive at a government so rife with corruption and greed that we would have to be simple-minded to believe that they have the peoples’ interests in mind?


What could have gone so wrong that we have an administration trapped in a failing ideology and incapable of admitting its errors; so arrogant in its policies that it ignores the fact that most of the world considers that it is either insane or criminal; so convinced in its own rightness that it feels justified in jailing and humiliating those who think differently about personal freedoms; a leadership so blinded by their pathological beliefs that they can deny the obvious, from global warming to the real causes behind 9/11.


If it is true that we get the government we deserve, then what have we done to deserve this?
We see faith corrupted by power-mongering and the brutality of fundamentalism. The central tenets of great religious principles are ignored, or perverted, by the greed for victory. Corporations bleed their workers dry while rewarding their CEOs with obscene salaries. Goodhearted people who are swindled into voting against their best interests by cynical mass persuasion and downright lies. The list goes on: ruined health care, the militarization of space, nuclear proliferation, a hyped war on terror, brutal immigration policies, the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor... we can all add our own pet peeves.


The point is that if we take an honest look at what is happening in this wonderful country, there is clearly something terribly wrong going on. It feels like everything we have valued is collapsing all around us. Nothing is quite what it seems to be anymore. Who is there left to trust? What could possibly make us feel secure?


It’s so easy to fall into despair and to search desperately for something, or somebody, outside ourselves who seems to have all the answers. It’s all too tempting to grasp for simplistic solutions, or to turn to people who seem to be strong and decisive, without realizing they are every bit as confused as we are.

But if we can see all that and choose not to follow the herd, to not allow the fear to get the better of us, we find that these conditions tend to throw us back on our own resources. What then, we have to ask ourselves, are our own resources?


Some people, like those who lost their faith after the discovery of the concentration camps in the Second World War, collapse into cynicism, finding it impossible to believe a loving God would permit the atrocities of an Abu Graib or a Bagram. Others shut themselves tightly in their shells and turn in fear to those they’ve been persuaded to believe are in control, ignoring the blatant lies and corrupt manipulations. Still others choose to blind themselves to the cruelties and inequities of the world outside the compound, and bury themselves in wholly materialistic pursuits. Whilst other people, perhaps in the majority, are living in a constant state of anxiety, frantically trying to hold onto what they have, isolating themselves in gated communities and behind impermeable borders.


Things look pretty dark out there, so let’s step back for a moment and see if we can’t make sense of it in a larger historical context.


In psychosocial terms, one of the main themes, running like a deep current through the western world since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, is the gradual and inexorable broadening of the human mind. As science and technology have opened our eyes to the enormity of the Universe, so also have our worldviews been jimmied open by a wealth of information inconceivable to even our recent forebears. Ease of travel, the impulse to trade, and natural human curiosity has drawn different nations into a previously unheard-of closeness and interdependency. This, in turn, has pressed individuals within those cultures to be open to new concepts, to accept that people are different without being threatened by that difference. Beneath the revolutions and wars that have shaped so much of recent world history there appears to be a compelling drive towards unification. Even the era of European colonization, for all its evils, was a manifestation of this unifying principle inching its sorry way towards a new social equilibrium. For all the fractious hostility we see on the our TV screens, much of it caused by just this collision of opposing ideologies, the movement towards global unification is clearly an inevitable step in the civilizing process that all inhabited planets have to go through.


While this massive movement towards unification has been continuing, so also has there been a seemingly contradictory impulse towards greater expressions of individuality. Perhaps another way of describing this process is to say that each one of us is waking up, individual by individual, in cultures all over the world. The very momentum that is drawing us all closer together is also forcing us to be more fully conscious and aware. As we are introduced to new ideas, we are compelled to reexamine and challenge our own ways of thinking and acting. Think of the example that Gandhi’s nonviolent approach has had on subsequent resistance movements in the western world.


It is often helpful to remind ourselves that life is essentially a process of individual spiritual, emotional and mental growth. The social and political environment in which we find ourselves, while not unimportant, is in reality a backdrop, a vast and wonderful theatrical production if you like, in which each of us might learn the life-lessons which contribute to our growth as spiritual beings.


Georges Gurdjieff has pointed out, accurately, in my opinion, that this planet is experiencing a period of accelerated evolution. We know from the Urantia Book that the normal progression of the evolutionary process on this world was interrupted by the Lucifer Rebellion, vastly changing the arc of our development. Scientists tell us that stress can cause mutations in biological organisms, allowing them to flourish under new, and previously hostile, conditions.


We are undeniably a species in transformation. The choices each of us make, from the highest to the lowest in the land, directly contribute to this massive change. Some of us with bombs and bullets; some with votes and exhortations of free speech; some by making terrible errors and some by becoming examples of courage and wisdom; and more importantly, by all the small decisions we make in our lives towards love or fear, each one of us influences the Whole as surely as the flapping of the proverbial butterfly’s wings in Hong Kong may initiate a hurricane in the Caribbean.


There are also more and more of us who have awakened to our choice to incarnate at this particular point in time, specifically to help in this massive and necessary transmutation of consciousness. We know that it is up to us to inform our choices with love and respect for others; to not blind ourselves to the terrible decisions others might make, while at the same time not becoming overwhelmed by the negativity we see each day on our TV screens. Rather than becoming immobilized by fear or hopelessness, or holding on to being appalled or depressed by the events of the day, we need to remind ourselves of who we are and why we’re here and that however dire the world situation might appear, everything is working its way irrevocably towards a positive resolution, and to act accordingly.


We can do this best by holding firmly to the faith that behind the scrim of reality is a Divine sense of order, in which each of us, as individuals, gets to experience exactly what we need to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity. This understanding can yield to a deeper appreciation of what it means to be human and to know that we are all participating in a truly extraordinary event, much admired by angels and many curious extraterrestrials, the birthing of a new human consciousness.


Timothy Wyllie c 2006
Other short essays are available on my Website: <Timothywyllie.com>

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