June 4, 2023.
I have been deep in the challenge of figuring out how to make my work in the world a force for good, something that nourishes our inner nature and purpose for being here, now, in this age of mass disruption.
I’ll confess I’ve felt a lot of despair recently around the state of being in the world.
Some of the problems seem intractable and beyond the reach of one person’s small hands to mend: the looming climate emergency, divisive political partisanship, an utterly exhausted health care system, deep fakes and ChatGPT, increasing poverty and income inequality across my city and the globe. Not to mention the residual effects of a post-traumatic, post-pandemic social fabric that feels somehow shrunk by heat-domes, atmospheric rivers, fires, floods, and lockdowns, and the existential threat of what human work means in the context of next generation AI.
I feel we might have forgotten how to be meaningfully engaged in any kind collective imagining of the future.
Or maybe we’re just too tired to care.
When was the last time you went to a gallery opening? Attended an event that required you to bump up against long-held biases? The last time you stood in the street in opposition to the erosion of one more human joy? Or danced in release, eyes closed in to the sound of your heart beating in time with strangers? When was the last time you swam naked under the stars and thought, Yes, this it! This is why!
It’s as if we are at the top of a mountain looking across to the next height to climb and in between is a deep valley, whose fields of possibility seem unknown, frightening, and potentially (probably?) impassable.
We are living a time of deep disconnect between self+nature, self+other, self+self.*
I keep turning to the teachings of yoga for the wisdom of a way through the disruptive field.
तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्
Here, now, is the teaching of yoga.
Yoga is establishing the mind in stillness.
Then the Seer dwells in its essential nature.**
And it is not just yoga that calls on us to be still, to source from a deep place of creative resilience to discover who we could really be. The way we pass through to the other side can’t be thought or imagined from this side of the mountain, from the place of what we have done and already know.
It can only be felt and sensed from the deep field of stillness
in which the emerging future is revealed
(because it is always already present, here, now, in the quiet of who we really are)
*I’ve been really inspired lately by the thinking at Theory U on how to address these fundamental disconnects, on how to evolve not only human consciousness, but the very systems we live and work within to become more caring, aware, and generative. Check out the u-school.org for more on how to lead from the space of the emerging future found at the base of the U, aka the source of presence.
**Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras, translated by Ravi Ravindra