21 February 2013

Till the World Turns

On my FaceBook Wall this morning, I found this Rumi translation:
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
 and also a photo of performance artist Marina Abramovic with an attached story about audience reaction to her "Rhythm 0" (1974):

Both posts resonate with my contemplation of The Substitute Teaching Event.

I am always conscious to the truth of the idea expressed in the Rumi quote. And I believe arriving at this awareness is a crucial step in the evolution of human consciousness. It is viewed by many as an "advanced" or "elevated" state of consciousness. With no sense of superiority, I concur. There is no sense of superiority because the attainment of this consciousness has not exempted me from struggle, pain, frustration, confusion, etc. I believe these things are the essence of the Human Condition. They are the "suffering" that Buddhism speaks of. They are inescapable.

They are of our own creation. We construct the Heaven or Hell (or between) that we live in. We are each God in this way: powerful Creators of Reality.

We manipulate the Universe. With our minds. We create categories and form opinions. We make decisions and choices. We "believe" in something...or we don't.

We make meaning. We create Reality

but Existence is another thing altogether. We don't know why we exist. We don't know how we came to exist. But we're here. And we try to make sense of what we find here and we call the results of our conjecture Reality.

Evolved consciousness or "wisdom" is the vast field, the cosmos, that contains the multitude of human Realities. It is the ocean that holds all the drops of Reality AND the "sum total" that is greater than all those droplets AND the Infinity that stretches further still, beyond (and through) all of that.

Ultimately, the whole of creation will evolve into this awareness, become aware of Itself this way. This deepening of awareness is as natural and necessary as the decomposition of organic matter. Part of the Life Cycle that our little lives mirror and express.

Prior to reaching this awareness, we believe in whatever we are thinking. We invest emotionally in what we are thinking and live through relentless Thought and Feeling. Thought and Feeling defines us and gives us life.

We cling to it. And fight for it because our survival depends on it.

We openly embrace some of our Thought and Feeling. Whatever our label or role -- artist, minister, teacher, politician, policeman, vagabond... -- Thought and Feeling serves as mask, filter and template for our lives and our encounters and interactions with the World. It guides and informs the posts we make to FaceBook and other social media, for example.

There's also a dimension of Thought and Feeling that we do not embrace. Sometimes we struggle with it. Some refer to it as the Shadow. When we react defensively to something it is sometimes because it pokes our Shadow. Or feels like an attack on our acceptable, life-sustaining Thought and Feeling. A slap to the Mask, so to speak.

The actions of audience members who abused and threatened Ms. Abramovic during her performance and those of me and the high school students I interacted with earlier this week exemplify the "embrace and reject" dynamic. In both instances one realm of Thought and Feeling was embraced -- for the audience an interpretation (e.g., "offensive" or "vulnerable") of the artist's performance; for the students a framing of their current school experience (persecuted); and for me, convictions about the value of education and "best practices" in learning environments -- while another realm, the Shadow, was provoked, triggering struggle or rejection.

Luckily, no "resolution" is possible. No corrective is needed for the actions of the artist or the students or me. There exists no fix for any of the seemingly "bad" things that happen and none is required. The evolution of Consciousness is effected through these events.The whole of Human Consciousness evolves and advances through our lives -- through our triumphs as well as our sins and mistakes. Our lives are the enactment of Consciousness Evolving. This train is bound for glory.

In the moments where we perceive the dynamic of embrace and reject, without judgment, we tap into the evolved Consciousness. Through spiritual practice, we "tap" into it with greater frequency and for increasingly longer periods of time...(ah, Time...save it to discuss at some other...time). It seems like a numbers game sometimes; as though it matters that there are fewer evolved people than un-evolved. This is an illusion, a product of the Thought and Feeling machine. No single drop of water in the ocean is any wetter than another; and there's only one ocean anyway.

Through practice, step by fragile step, there is less and less to fight about, less and less to long for. Fewer things rise to the level of "amazing" or "admirable." Nothing means more than anything else. Everything is just a part of the whole. Being is enough. Being is all. I feel it sometimes like a thrum or vibration running through everything. Grace Jones' "Slave to the Rhythm" is one of my favorite artistic expressions of this idea.

Still from Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" performance, 1964.

We move as physical bodies through the physical World, mediating the experience with our Thought and Feeling . Assaulted and assaulting. Embraced and embracing. Rejected and rejecting. Everything happens. Everything is happening. And