Tag Archives: Obama

Embracing Ideological Difference


Life has a way of bringing us exactly the experiences that are needed to awaken us (even if they are not the ones we might choose) and we can notice the same process in our collective experiences as participants in our governments and economies.

If you have looked deeply into this for yourself, or if you happen to have read my book Life Beyond Belief you are quite familiar with how the circumstances of our everyday lives support awakening out of our ideas, and into the reality of what is happening beyond our thoughts about it.

One of the collective experiences of our time is in the political arena, whether it be between different political parties or different countries. In politics in America for instance, although we of course remain individuals, many of us classify ourselves as being Republicans or Democrats. This is one more label (not so unlike calling ourselves Israelis or Palestinians) with which we categorize our thinking. Whichever particular category we choose represents particular sets of ideas about how things like governments and economies work. In the present climate of economic downturn, bank failure and unemployment, the outstanding characteristics of these categories are differing ideas about what we should do to set things right.

If we look into both sets of ideas, we can notice that although these categories of thinking are different one from another and go on to discount each others points of view, they also have something in common. Both political categories are the same in that they each consist of ideas only (or call them ideologies) and people who internally categorize themselves in this way are constructing their own mentally derived realities based on those ideas. They are seeing the world through an ideological filter.

So here we are. The economy is messed up and it continues to go in an uncomfortable direction. Its easy to see that we could become fearful over this and polarize further into our ideological corners. That is one invitation life makes–and perhaps we need to further explore our fears before we are ready for another option. If we have looked into it deeply however, we know better than to act out of our fears. We know where that takes us. We know the end result. We see it in all the wars going on in the world. We see it in the ideological gridlock on Capital Hill. Life is showing us something here.

Here in the 21st century, we have somehow now developed a capacity to respond to life in a different way–a way that is not an externalization of our fears, such as war, hatred and self-righteousness have been in the past. We find that there is another possible response now. We no longer are tied into being a Democrat who resists Republicans or visa versa. We are becoming aware of who we are (before thought arises) and are moving beyond this old ideological narrowness into a deeper and more satisfying human experience.

We can begin to see a third optional response to our circumstances being demonstrated by the world around us, in nature and in whatever particular circumstances we find ourselves in. Of course I write this without knowing what is happening in the life of each reader, but I write it nonetheless out of a trust in how life works. Life gives us each exactly what we are ready to see in each moment. I look around and I see morning coming. I see the morning light meeting the darkness without hatred or resistance. I see the pull of gravity pressing downward on the upward growth of my houseplants and the trees outside my window without rancor. I notice the ideas passing through my mind, flowing like water, doing what they do, going where they go, without having to be either right or wrong; without needing to make others right or wrong.

Without categorizing, ideas flow with grace and openness. Life is at ease with itself. Difficulty and opportunity, dark and light, gravity and growth are two sides of the same coin. Discomfort simply guides the attention to what we need to notice in each moment. All is well each moment, and yet action is unhampered. In fact action is freed. The freedom from inner categories, the embracing of seeming opposites in ourselves, seems to imbue our actions with an impact beyond what was previously possible. We fulfill our parts in the collective experience with the vitality of life flowing through us, moving us in unique and perhaps unexpected ways.

by Alice Gardner, author of “Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice” available at amazon.com.


Change is Here Now


Barack Obama won the US election on a platform of change. Many of us may be hoping that he single-handedly can change how things are going in America and in the world. I would say that this is an unrealistic expectation if such hoping means that all the rest of us have to do is to watch and wait for things to get better. If, however, this moment in the history of the world can be seen as an opportunity for every one of us to take part in this change, then yes, yes we can.

Every single one of us is an amazingly unique individual and each one of us has a different part to play. This has always been true. It is nothing new. Each of us has been playing our part all along, getting us to this moment, this situation, this opportunity.

Each of us is looking at what is happening around us with fresh eyes every moment, even though our minds may still be making a lot of noise that is covering up that direct perception. In spite of the mind’s noisiness concerning survival, money, war or other troubles, we can begin to notice what lies behind it. We can get a glimpse of what this moment in history is offering us in particular. What feedback life is giving us personally and collectively. What direction is open for us to move in and what moves are possible.

For some of us, the only movement that is possible at this moment, may be inner. Perhaps the only thing we can do is to come to terms with our financial or other concerns inside ourselves–to confront our personal demons. I want to say that this is important work too. Each individual who finds a way to come to peace internally with themselves in each moment adds to the peace that is possible in the world. Ghandi told us to “be the change that we want to see in the world” and his advice stands. If we aren’t situated to be able to stop the Israeli/Palestine conflict outwardly, we can do our part by coming to peace with the inner counterpart: the part of us that would still want retribution and revenge on someone somewhere who has wronged us.

Perhaps life has positioned us in some way so that we do have obvious outer work to do in this time of change. Perhaps life has gifted us with certain skills, abilities or potentials that position us to do something outwardly, big or small. No need to push ourselves outwardly. We only need to listen inwardly (again, listening behind the noisemaker mind that thinks it knows so much) to see what we already know about this, to find out how life wants to move us. If there is work for us to do, the energy for it will appear and the direction will open up for us. And we will know, just in the moment that it is needed, exactly what to do.

Because this seems to be change on a collective level, it may be a part of it to stay in touch with what others are doing, including meeting informally in our local communities. Invite some friends over, leave egos at the door as best you can, and have a conversation about what is going on and see what wants to happen through you. See if there is energy there for you… see if it feels right. If it does, follow it and see where it goes.

Here are a couple websites for inspiration that I know about. I’m sure there are lots of other things you know about too. Send things to me and I’ll collect them together on a new page on wideawakeliving.com.

Obama’s website: change.gov
Alliance for a New Humanity: something Deepak Chopra started

The fact that change is in the wind is in no way a contradiction to the perfection of the present moment. The current circumstances of our lives are indeed perfect just as they are, and so is the movement of change that occurs out of those exact circumstances. Life is motion as well as stillness and both are perfect. You can see it in the waterfall photo.