“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” Agnes De Mille
Coming across this Agnes De Mille quote inspired me to write my first blog post ever. And as the quote suggests, it'll be a big leap in the dark, as I have no idea how it will turn out or what exactly I will say. This post, in and of itself, is an experiment and testament to the act of creation and to the idea that one can never really know for certain what will happen next.
I am staring at a blank page. My thoughts are flowing. And I am open to what comes next. This does not mean however, that I am writing 100% extemporaneously. I have been ruminating over this idea for a long time, so even though I am writing freely now, not with the computer, but by hand, which physically feels good, there has been some processing of ideas beforehand. And that's the point. Even though we do not know what lies ahead, or what the results will be, we can do the prep work: we can show up every day, to write, read, paint, or practice whatever our craft is. The inspiration (in my case, the quote), the ideas, the right action come not “out of the blue” – although sometimes it may seem that way – but from a place of preparation. So not only have I been ruminating about the idea, but I have read some texts and spoken about it in a couple of mini Facebook forums with like-minded people (more on that later) who are also contemplating these kinds of ideas and concepts about life. Every decision we make is an act of “creation”, and this act of creation comes from a place of preparation, or of conditioning. How we choose to prepare (or not) will affect our thoughts, our decisions, the course of our lives, and consequently, the evolution of the world as we know it.
This, in essence, is the key to uncertainty. Yes, it’s true that we do not know what is next, however the paradox is that one can still prepare for it and prime oneself to be in the best state of mind to make the best decision at the right moment – a decision based on preparation, knowing, and intuition. For the artist it means showing up to practice and/or perfect one’s craft so that when it is time to perform, whether it is on stage, or in the studio, the right action comes easily and flows naturally. There is a sense of just doing, without thought, without doubt, without judgement. Even the sense of time disappears. Some say it’s like opening a channel and “downloading” what is needed from the Source at that moment to create the perfect piece of art.
How can we translate this to our lives and therefore to the betterment of our world? If we could just learn to let go and download instructions from the Universe/Source/God (whatever label you want to give it), instead of reacting based on our conditioning, the world, and our individual worlds could arguably be a lot healthier, more sustainable, and much more enjoyable. So how do we non-artists prepare – for our life performance? We simply learn to act like artists. We do our daily work, whether it is meditating in the morning, doing a mindfulness practice, yoga, praying, journaling or whatever it is that gets us to focus internally. This inner focus puts us in balance, puts us in the right mindset to then deal with the uncertainty that we face every day, in all the small, and big decisions that make up the fabric of our lives, and the lives of billions of people, as there is no question that we are inevitably all connected – as the sages have been saying for centuries, and as the new quantum sciences are proving now.
How does it work? Every time we focus internally, we connect with our true Self, we remember that we are not merely our thoughts (we are the observer of them), that we have an internal life force guiding us, and that when we tune into that force, we learn to see how life actually flows in our favour. Scientifically, meditating – and other contemplative practices - have shown to reduce stress, to lower heart rate and to reduce the power of the amygdala (the primal region of the brain associated with fear and emotion). By slowing down, we heighten our perception, we become more discerning, and we become more aware of the things that are not true in our lives. We also become more compassionate and empathetic. And finally we become less attached to the dramas and problems in our lives. By giving less importance to the things that don’t matter, we can flow through life more contentedly and focus on what is important.
My words are flowing now, with facts that I have gleaned from books, but I can also write these words based on personal experience. From the moment I started meditating regularly, I started seeing the world through very different eyes. It has been like having laser inner eye surgery; things that were once a blur, have become crystal clear. My perceptions of what is (un)real have completely transformed. For example, when I am faced with a difficult conflict, I am much more detached than I used to be. This helps me to see things as a game to be played, or a lesson to be learned, or a challenge to be faced in order to grow, and not as a personal attack. Because of this detachment, I am able to deal with it much more effectively since I can (usually) keep my ego and personal identity out of it. Of course this is not always the case, as we are all human and we are always a work in progress! Moreover, I am also much more empathetic towards the person who is attacking me, which makes my response more effective towards a peaceful conclusion. Imagine if every person meditated only 10 minutes per day, with these results, how this could affect the world.
A great way to start this process of inner focus and transformation is to find a group of like-minded people who have come to the realization that there can be a different way of viewing the world. In my case, besides doing a lot of personal research on the internet, or taking a Transcendental Meditation course, I was introduced through a friend to a process whereby mini-facebook forums were formed, with a kind of moderator, in order to create a space where people can express ideas, concerns, inspirations, questions, etc. while on their path to a greater awakening and evolution. A mini-support group of sorts which can be very helpful and inspirational, as well as thought-provoking. It’s a place where people’s blind spots can be nudged, and where gentle poking of judgment and condition-minded or ego-minded thinking can be revealed, and real evolution can happen. I have witnessed it, and been a part of it, and have seen that it works. It’s important to find a community for support, since the world around us can seem so upside down once this new lens of perception grabs hold of us.
I was once told about a poster with an image of a fish inside a submarine. That is how many of us are living right now. We are the fish, thinking that we need the submarine to survive underwater. Or actually, many people don’t even realize they are in the submarine! Many of the systems in place now in our world are like the submarine, trying to make us believe that we need them in order to survive. The submarine is like the ego. We are the fish. It serves us, in a twisted way, but we do not need the submarine to survive. We only need to become aware that our true nature is free from this shell, and that if we just let ourselves go, we will flow much more naturally than we have ever done before. Once the fish realizes it can not only survive, but thrive without the submarine, there is not turning back. Even though it is frightening, because of the uncertainty of what lies ahead in the sea, the rewards will very probably be greater than anything we could ever have imagined. Like a leap in the dark, or like a true coming home.
How does this all relate to the paradigm shift that is Natural Economics? Natural Economics is about letting go of doctrines, which are the submarines, in order to collectively tune into nature. This translates then to a world with more cooperation (as opposed to competition), more sustainability (as opposed to a depletion of resources), and ultimately more symbiosis with our natural environment. A Natural Economics for a better world.