Vernon Sankey and Katey Lockwood are co-authors of The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times. Well, we certainly live in turbulent times and I suspect many of us are seeking ways to change. I asked the authors to provide some background to the issues and solutions developed in their work and described in their book.
The world is vastly complex and beyond the capacity of human beings to comprehend. It is impermanent and constantly changing, just as we are constantly changing. As Heraclitus said in 500 BC: ‘No man steps in the same river twice. It is not the same man and it’s not the same river.’
The external world reflects our internal thinking. If we live in a dangerous, polluted, conflict ridden world, it is because our internal thinking is one of greed, selfishness, indifference to nature, and fear of our ‘enemies’. Disasters such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests and riots related to George Floyd’s murder result from this kind of thinking.
We have been conditioned to think we are separate egos in individual bags of skin, intelligent beings living in an essentially random and unintelligent world, where to survive means winning at someone else’s expense. We are on a constant struggle for survival and a constant search for (an elusive) happiness by discovering ever more sophisticated ways to control our environment, to go on living whatever the cost, and to accumulate material objects.
Our actions have led to unparalleled selfishness, the unwillingness to share and the development of ever more powerful technologies for the purposes of ruling our environment. We believe that if we are to survive, we have to hoard resources competitively whatever the outcome for others, even as this means someone else will have to go without.
As a result, we live in a constant state of stress, anxiety and suffering, with poverty, hunger, disease and mental illness inevitably accompanying us.
The resolution to our issues lies in completely changing the way we think. We have to abandon the conditioned thinking about being alone in a cold unfriendly world, the world of dog eat dog, winners and losers, ‘success’ as purely material, image as more important than substance and move towards the realization that we live in a world in which we are all interdependent with each other and with nature.
By looking inside ourselves and discovering who we really are at the deepest level, we learn that we are not our ego, not our image, not our accolades or the things we have acquired; but rather we are a microcosm of what we might call Universal Intelligence, Universal Love, a power that is beyond description or imagination, that is infinite and eternal and the basic premise of all peace-loving philosophies. This is the what Socrates meant when he said: ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’ and the meaning of the phrase ‘Know Thyself’ inscribed on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. This connection to something so much greater than anything we can imagine but of which we are a part, is Oneness.
Instead of seeking to ‘control’ and ‘master’ our world, we should work with our world, in harmony with nature, nurturing and protecting an environment on which we depend, which is part of us, and which is. When we damage our world, we damage ourselves. We did not come into this world; we came out of this world. And that is where we will all return, after the very short time that we are accorded the beauty of human life. We and the world are One.
We need to learn to live with uncertainty, to accept the Law of Polarity which says that opposites may be extrinsically different but are intrinsically connected, like hot and cold, North and South, heads and tails, black and white, suffering and happiness, yin and yang, good and bad, life and death. We cannot have one without the other. We cannot just surf on the crest of the wave in the vain hope that there will never be a trough. It makes no sense! It is this thinking which must change.
Once we realize that life and death are inseparable and that we are all interconnected and interdependent, we stop grasping, yearning, competing and fighting in order to pull the rug over ourselves at the expense of someone else. Since we are all One anyway what is the point? Instead we can learn to understand and control our ego, to balance our yin and yang, to accept what is, to let go our obsessions, to live in the present moment without anxiety, to be grateful for what we have and to find harmony and inner peace.
Life is impermanent. Suffering is attachment to permanence. The reduction of suffering comes from the reduction of attachment to permanence. Inner peace results from living in harmony with the natural order of the Universe.
Learn to look inside yourself and be who you are. Until we have ‘healed’ ourselves first, we will be living in a state of stress and anxiety and never find peace. Understanding who we are, and our purpose will provide the foundation for all external change. This has to come first.
Accept what is, and learn to let go
Be flexible. If the world is constantly changing, we need to be flexible in order to change and not break.
Be grateful for all the wonders that we have and that are around us. By appreciating them we attract more of the same.
Be in awe of the miracles happening all around all the time, sometimes called synchronicity. Children are in awe of what they see for the first time. We have to be like children again.
Be generous. The greatest honour we can do another is to give them our unconditional time and attention.
Be forgiving. Grudges are poison. ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine.’
Be enthusiastic. Acting with passion is acting with Presence. It is being in the ‘Now.’
Katey and Vernon’s book offers much wisdom along with practical advice. I’m going to start with accepting what is and learning to let go.
The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times by Vernon Sankey and Katey Lockwood ~~ Are you facing turbulent times in your life? In your relationships? In the workplace? At home?Are you anxious about the chaotic state of the world? Are you fearful about the kind of society we’re creating for our children? Do you feel powerless in the face of overwhelming issues? Despite all efforts, does something always seems to be ‘missing’? Only when we look deeply into who we really are do we begin to understand why the world is in the state it is, why we feel the way we do and what lies at the heart of our discontent.
THE WAY shows you what is happening and why, and helps you rediscover the essential truth that the answers are already within us. When we look at things through different eyes, we learn to live in a new, more peaceful, more purposeful and happier way.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.