Nothing and Everything

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
Sometimes the twists and turns of life on Earth can feel like loss or emptiness, especially now. Yet the greater significance of our experiences may not be completely understood when they occur. Time brings perspective. There are no mistakes, and we are never really lost. Everything we experience provides an opening into greater awareness and an opportunity to grow and trust in the trajectory of our own lives.

Two years ago I moved from Boston to Florida, primarily to live closer to several friends. Within a matter of months, the friends unexpectedly began to move to other states. The ostensible “reasons” for my divinely guided move (and it did feel that way) evaporated into thin air, and I searched for another reason to be here. Things that I tried just didn’t feel right. I spent more than a year watching parts of my life fall away to nothing all around me. What remained were my spiritual practice, my writing, my dear partner Anne, and my deep connection to Nature. The essence of my life really, and I appreciated them more than ever.

Still, I felt lost and “homesick” a lot of the time. By year’s end, I had become closed and cranky, feeling let down by friends, life, and God. Why was I brought here in order to lose so much? Ah, that was the key question that unlocked the closed door of my heart. Because as long as I saw only loss, letdown, and emptiness, that was my experience. As 2020 began, I intentionally “reset” my consciousness to accept all that had happened as part of my soul’s journey in this lifetime. I let go of expectation and disappointment and chose to trust that everything was unfolding perfectly, even if it didn’t look that way on the surface. Gradually I re-centered. Then came COVID-19.

What might have been yet another setback and reason to fall into despair actually became a catalyst for me to surrender at an even deeper level. I gave up every illusion of egoic control or planning in my life. As the world completely shut down in fear and uncertainty, I realized that something “greater” had put humanity in a timeout. There were divine forces at work on the planet that were more powerful than human “will power.” And my own life was part of the same cosmic flow. As I came to this awareness, a tremendous peace came over me. I settled into my soul’s perspective, my soul’s peace. And I have not left, even when I feel uncertainty or sadness about world events. Inner peace is always present in the midst of whatever else is occurring, and a broader understanding will eventually arise.

Over the past few months, as I’ve followed a daily meditation practice* and taken long walks in Nature, my feelings of peace and spiritual connection have deepened. I can see that these extraordinary global circumstances are part of an acceleration of planetary shifts in consciousness. It is time to let go of our mind-oriented, will-driven, egocentric ways and open to heart-centered, flowing cooperation and compassion. Our Earth home cannot survive unless we come back into harmony with our hearts and souls—and with one another, across differences in race, nationality, gender, age, and beliefs. We are being called to awaken to our own inner soul potential and create an entirely new paradigm of living on this planet.

The vast emptiness that many of us have been staring into in our lives is exactly like the infinite cosmos—full of possibility. Out of emptiness arises the entire universe, filled with energy and light. The mind fears infinity, but the soul is completely at home there. When we shift to soul vision, we see that within the “nothing” of infinity is a Presence that holds everything in loving awareness, and we too feel at home. Emptiness is full, ever-unfolding. We ourselves are ever-unfolding. Only when nothing opens up in our lives can we truly see that inside it is everything. And we begin to live from the infinite potential within us, which is our soul’s gift of love to the world.
______________
*Gratitude to Panache Desai for his online morning meditations and to Deva Premal & Miten for their afternoon meditations/music during this time.

Can You Keep On Loving?

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
If you believe that love is humanity’s greatest hope and clearest path to a more compassionate inclusive planet, how are you feeling right now? When people seem to be hating one another with greater intensity. When rage and violent outbursts are becoming more common. Those who wear masks vs. those who refuse to; those who believe Black Lives Matter vs. those who deny it. Science vs. religion, Democrats vs. Republicans, health and safety vs. economic “recovery.” Individuals of different races, ages, nationalities, and belief systems fighting over statues and guns and face coverings. Where does unconditional love and kindness come into play in the midst of all this? Can we love our neighbor if our neighbor hates us?

These are questions humanity has considered for hundreds of years, but now they seem to be coming to a dramatic crescendo, particularly in the U.S., a country supposedly founded in the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet the reality is that those words applied to white male slave owners and no one else. The land of the free was in truth based in systemic racism that continues to this day. Racial hatred that continues to this day. A hatred so deep that rather than let go of it, people start inventing a world of “hoaxes” and “fake news.” Is it possible to live with love in the midst of so much conflict and intolerance?

Martin Luther King Jr. did. John Lewis and countless civil rights workers did. Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, and so many others did. Every individual who lives a life of integrity and compassion while being demeaned daily lives love in the face of hate. African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans. Women of all races, the LGBTQ community, all immigrants. There are lives of courage everywhere among us, inspiring us with their commitment to life. To be alive is to love life so powerfully that you keep on living in spite of everything. At this time in history, we are being asked to stand strong and keep on loving in the same way. Against enormous odds.

There is a rift in the fabric of this country that won’t be easily sewn back together. A Presidential election can’t completely address the extent of it. Laws won’t fix it. Religion won’t mend it. Justice and restitution won’t entirely resolve it. It is a wound and a splitting so deep that it can only be healed at the level of the heart: Loving what is hated, on both sides of the divide. We have to love living in peace with one another more than anything else, including our own viewpoints. A seemingly impossible challenge.

Yet we chose this lifetime, this time of tumultuous change and upheaval. We came here to this troubled planet to heal the wounds of centuries, to bring peace to a world split by wars, internal and external. We came here to finally look in the eyes of our “enemy” and see a human soul, to choose compassion over power and empathy over antipathy. We came here to continue to love through every impossible challenge that shows up. Because at some point, some unknown and hard-to-imagine transformative moment, we will reach a tipping point, everything will shift, and humanity will know oneness again at last. That is the dream. Can you hang on until we reach it? Can you fulfill the promise you made before you were born: Can you keep on loving?

Listen to Valarie Kaur, an inspiring Sikh American activist, who speaks with hope about these times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ7QlKG70LE

 

What About Love?

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
“How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?”
—Jonathan Larson

Your mind can’t comprehend it, and your heart can’t absorb it: Sudden death—and the fear, pain, and anger that accompany it. Yet another African American man, George Floyd, murdered by a white police officer. Hundreds of thousands of lives cut short by a virulent worldwide virus. In the U.S. and internationally, thousands protest in the streets against years and years of racism, violence, and injustice. As COVID-19 circles the globe, people lose relatives and friends, their jobs and homes; immigrants are again targeted and blamed. Grief. Anger. Is this how life is going to be from now on? It is unless we make the conscious choice to change it. It is until we see our neighbors as ourselves.

We are at a turning point in this country and in the world. Our direction will determine our future. Will we repeat the fatal mistakes of the past, continuing to exist in a polarized “reality” of hatred and mistrust, separation and fear, every stranger a potential enemy, our green planet dying right along with us? Or will we wake up in the midst of this nightmare and recognize the madness for what it is: inner pain externalized. The idea of “other” arising out of a distorted desire to feel “better than.” Can we salvage something livable from this brokenness? Is it possible for humanity to learn how to value life again? And what about love?

We have that love within us. We were born with it. Look in a newborn baby’s eyes and you see only possibility, only love. Children have to be taught how to fear and hate. Can we erase the programming and start afresh? The coronavirus stopped the world in its tracks. In the absence of “things as usual,” the skies began to clear, and new ways to live were born out of compassion and kindness. Still, racism and attitudes about “difference” remained. Now is the moment of truth. Let’s not fall backward into old patterns of divisiveness and “otherdom.” Disagreements about wearing face masks that end up in physical fights, racial hatred that ends up in murder. We can choose differently. We can value the lives of every being on this planet. We can open our hearts in love instead of close them in mistrust and fear.

What will it take, you ask. Seems impossible. But the world we are currently inhabiting is just about as “impossible” as it gets. And that is becoming obvious to more and more people. An awakening is happening on this planet. Humanity is breaking through to the other side of hundreds of years of internalized and external separation. The concept of “other” is being shown in all its distortions so that we can at last see it for what it is—a prison that we are all entrapped in. As we awaken more and more, we begin to see ourselves in every person. What happens to you is simultaneously happening to me. The universal point of view suddenly opens up, and we recognize that separation is an illusion of the mind; at the heart level, we are inseparable. Oneness is not a concept, an unreachable ideal. It is the truth of our existence. There is no “other”; there is only the energy of love out of which we were all born and within which we always dwell.

Love is the awakening. Love is waking up to itself in everyone. Choose it every day in every way and transform the planet. Love everyone. Break through preconceptions and stereotypes (race, gender, age), opinions and beliefs, judgments and arguments. End the war inside you and live in peace with everyone. Allow your heart to guide you. Love every single person you encounter as you would a newborn, and love yourself as well. There is no way to “measure a life,” for life is immeasurable, unfathomable. It is a miracle of love and light that we are blessed to experience. Let that awareness fully awaken within you, and your life and the lives of all those around you will transform immediately. That is why you came to this planet at this time, to be part of an awakening. To open your heart to love even when you are facing a wall of seemingly solid opposition. Keep loving courageously, and the walls will eventually fall, the opposition dissolve. The awakening is in you and me and all of us. Our collective love and compassion are more powerful than “impossibility.”

 

Peace from Gratitude

Charles Dickens described the French Revolution as “the best of times” and the “worst of times.” We could use similar words to describe our world now. There is chaos, conflict, death, and destruction on the one hand, and love, compassion, and the birth of a new more aware consciousness on the other. We who are alive at this time are bridges between the old and the new, Heaven and Earth, humanity and divinity. To hold all that within us requires great courage as well as deep inner peace. How do we achieve that? One of the most effective and powerful ways is to hold gratitude in your heart, to see the world through that lens, even with tears of sadness in your eyes. There is always something to be grateful for in life, whatever the circumstances.

Look Out for One Another

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
There is so much fear ricocheting around the globe now. Fear of the deadly coronavirus and fear of disease and dying. Basically, fear of survival. This survival-based fear is embedded deep in our cellular memory as a species on this planet; it is a powerful force affecting everyone. Our collective consciousness holds the emotional residue of every event—wars, famine, pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, etc.—and all that is coming up to be released so that we can reach a new planetary balance. Mostly we aren’t aware of the rebalancing yet, but it is happening. As the virus spreads, we feel both present and cumulative fear, as well as other strong emotions like sadness, anger, or panic.

You can see it in the frightened individuals fleeing epicenters of COVID-19 like New York to other locations—and in the angry reactions of residents in those places who resent their coming (and perhaps bringing the virus with them). Issues of money and privilege come up. In crowded cities where people often struggle to survive every day, the choice of leaving does not exist for most. In such times as these, adequate health care also becomes a huge concern. Countless courageous individuals in this field are stretched to the limit. People are angry at government delays in issuing stay-at-home mandates (Florida finally institutes one today), jeopardizing human lives for business and political interests. This virus points up all those disparities. Who lives, and who dies?

We as a people shouldn’t have to reach that point. We are in the process of awakening to our common destiny and our common survival. Alone and separate, we are diminished and disconnected; together, we survive and thrive. The unspoken belief that you can somehow outrun or outwit death is an illusion. If your time is up on this planet, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you own. So, then, what really matters in the course of a lifetime is how much you have loved and cared for others. Are you living with empathy and compassion, or are you driven by fear or self-interest?

This virus is making us face ourselves, face how we are living our lives. It becomes raw and challenging, but in that uncomfortable mix is the opportunity to awaken to who each of us really is at our core, which is a sensitive soul. Beneath the fear, anger, and defensiveness is something tender and vulnerable: the human spirit. It takes courage to peel off all the protective layers and admit that you are no different than every other human being. You are born and you die. What happens in between is the gift, the key, the opportunity for shared experience and oneness. Even in pain, even in fear. There are held-back tears within you. Cry them. Because when you do, your heart will open, and you will see that you are surrounded by family everywhere. Have the courage to feel compassion for every person who crosses your path. You may not realize it, but that is why you came to this planet: to feel with others, to offer comfort and protection. To look out for one another.

On my walk this morning, I came across four ducks standing still in the middle of the road. I stopped and watched them to see why they were there. One smaller, younger duck was in the middle, and the other three were facing outward in a protective circle. As the smaller one began to move, the others adjusted themselves, always keeping watch in a wide circle around it. Slowly, they moved off down the road and disappeared into the bushes. I felt as if I had been given a beautiful gift from the natural world, a vivid example of how we humans could live together harmoniously. We are all children of Mother Nature. We are all vulnerable and in need of protection and care at one time or another. Now is one of those times. May we encircle and protect one another in our vulnerability and fear. May we have the courage to live every day of our lives with compassion.