Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where Are The Heroes?

"Heroes are often the most ordinary of men."
- Henry David Thoreau

This morning, I searched the internet for a few people who I have looked up to as something like heroes in the area of alternative lifestyles, sustainability, eco warriors, and general questioners of our present civilization.  I did this in part, because one, whom I deeply respect, is now so old he can no longer read or write.  Another had left the country, and others who had had their 15 minutes of fame, seemed to be resigned, resting on their laurels, or had left the field altogether.

Now, this is not to say that their contributions weren't great - in many cases they were. But who are the heroes today?  It's very probable that there are some great heroes out there, but not being as clued in as I once was, I have no idea who they are.  My mind, for good or bad, has a tendency to dwell in the 60's and 70's, when there seemed to be a whole movement of people questioning authority, seeking alternative lifestyles, and generally seeking to let go of old beliefs and create new paradigms - some freakier than others. 

Today, however, it seems the world has gone status quo.  And the ones who seem slightly off-beat, are still totally influenced by commercialism and the almighty buck.  It's all about their books, or DVD's or their classes, which only the fairly well off can afford.  It's less about love and giving, than greed and taking.  Granted, it's almost impossible to live without sufficient funds, if not downright illegal. But still, far too much of the emphasis is on money, and having all those things which money requires - nice cars, technology, clothes, and so on.  In other words, they want to, on one level, maintain the status quo, and live the modern lifestyle, and at the same time, advocate for an alternative and better way to live.  What you end up with here is a cognitive dissonance - basically two opposing ideas that can't really live together.

Understand, I'm certainly not saying I lead any example of this.  While I no longer really drive or own a car, and live in the same clothes for years and years on end, I do have a phone, an android tablet, and a small computer.  And, I watch far too much TV, as much out of boredom as anything else.  

When I look around, however, I do find heroes, but they're not the flashy kind. Today my heroes are generally unknown. My wife is my hero, if for no other reason than she's put up with me for 35 years, and totally given herself in service to her family.  My friend, Charlie is a hero, also for putting up with me, and never judging the stupid things I say.  My boys are huge heroes, for taking a stance on farming and living simply, even though it's incredibly hard work and they hardly make any money. My daughter is a hero, for having gone through some very dark places, but pulled herself out and still lives with a great sense of humor.  My father, now passed, is my hero, for having the courage to end his life gracefully, giving up food and medication to die peacefully, when he realized there really was no longer a point to continue. Daniel Suelo, though better known, is my hero for living now for over a decade without ever using money at all.  And virtually everyone I know, is one form of hero or another, if for nothing else, continuing the struggle with life. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Nature of Surrender

"The only courage that  matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next."
- Mignon McLaughlin

Surrender is often thought of as a moment of change, where, once one surrenders, somehow, everything will be different - the skies will part, one's life will become instantly blissful, and God will finally reveal Him/Herself.

But, that is not exactly the reality of the situation.  There is, on some cosmic level, I believe, a shift, but, for the most part, surrender is not something that happens in a moment. In happens in every moment, and particularly every moment must be a surrendering. 

When one surrenders, it is not that everything changes. It is that one is actually surrendering to everything staying EXACTLY the same.  You are surrendering to the will of God, as it is, Right Now, In This Moment!  You are surrendering to the fact that this is God's design, and it may change, or it may Never change. That whatever is happening right now, IS God's will, and you accept and surrender into that fully. 

Obviously, this is NOT what most people are hoping for. Most, I would guess, expect some kind of miracle, and perhaps, some get that - a sudden exhiliration, a dropping of worry and stress, like a breath of fresh air, and this is not totally uncommon. But often, it is exactly the opposite, where everything stays the same, and you realize, "This is IT". I am surrendering to what is happening right now. It may seem horrible, or painful, or boring, or whatever, but THAT is God's will in the moment.  One cannot change the will of God. One can only accept it or reject it. Rejecting it, is essentially resisting it. So when you stop resisting it, rejecting it, and willingly and openly accept it, without conditions, THAT is surrender.  "My life is Yours, Lord, and I accept that fully. Whatever You wish to do with me is perfect and divine."   

Or as Lord Chaitanya stated in His Sikshastakam:  "I know no one but Krsna as my Lord and He will remain so, even if He handles me roughly by His embrace, or makes me broken-hearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, because He is always my Lord, unconditionally."  

We are so conditioned by our radical entitlement, particularly these days, that we expect everyone and everything, including God, should bend to OUR will, when the reality is we MUST bend to His will, whether we recognize it or not. Surrendering, in large part, is simply a recognition of what is already true - we are already experiencing the will of God. Do we lovingly embrace it, or do we continue to resist it?