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Image by Mary Flaneur Halverson

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You will inevitably encounter adversity in life, either personal or on a collective level…Millions are in a state of anxiety. But use this as an opportunity to wake up. It is an opportunity to realize…and pay more attention to your own conscience than to the news…

Humans do not wake up in their comfort zone, they wake up when they are taken out of their comfort zone, when they can no longer bear suffering or unhappiness. Feel the vitality, become aware of that presence that is inseparable from who you are. That is an incredible accomplishment! There is more to you than the person! That presence is deeper than the person. You needed adversity to find it or to deepen fulfillment.

There is a saying that goes: ‘When the ego cries over what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has found.’ What looks bad and very negative on the surface, as an obstacle to the well-being of humanity from the conventional point of view, has an essential function.

So this is a time of great opportunity. Use it. Do not waste it. Don’t get lost in the mind. Don’t get lost in fear. To be rooted in this rock that is your essence identity.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

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“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

~J.K. Rowling

Individuals can learn a lesson from failure. Can whole cultures, political and economic systems do the same? As we collectively plunge into a time of suffering, it’s natural to begin asking if there is an exit ramp anywhere along this trajectory. Is the coming collapse final? Will the destruction of nature be total? Will enough of us learn our lesson so that humans can reorganize in a more rational way?

Can we actually stop killing ourselves and the world? We wonder. We don’t know if macro follows the same laws as micro. If it does, we might have a chance to save the world as well as the human species.

I can affirm the principle on the micro level. In the not too distant past, I imagined outcomes in my life that weren’t remotely possible for me. The reason I imagined them is because I didn’t believe in my essential self. I wasn’t in tune with myself. I imagined I could do anything I set my mind to, regardless of my real interests or talents. It was a hard lesson, because I failed across the board, but it taught me to stick with my passions and core obsessions. Success in some tangential field would have led me into a deadend street.

It was a piece of education I needed so that I could live as me and not some made up identity. I regret that I had to wait so long to learn that basic lesson, but learn it I did, and I live now without that queasy feeling that I’m trying to be something impossible for me.

Recovering from the consequences of trying a passionless path has its own lessons. It was akin to being in a car wreck. There were physical injuries for me, a couple of strokes and general debilitation to recover from. I don’t think I’ll go that way again.

The world seems determined to rush headlong down the wrong road right now, killing the earth and millions of its blameless denizens. How much pain is needed before an aggregate number of us can wake up and change course.

I hope Eckhart Tolle is right and that this is the adversity we need to bring enough of us into the light to save the day.

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