Originally Appeared on Huffington Post in November 2012
(Originally Appeared on Huffington Post in November 2012)
"Man's mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Finally, some good news.
Whether we celebrate the outcome of the election or mourn it, there's good news that's hard to ignore. Some comedian suggested that a win for Obama would be a victory for democracy while a win for Romney would be a victory for comedy, but what happened is really a win for spiritual progress over human stubbornness.
How so? Hundreds of millions of dollars invested in selling deception failed. TV attack ads and math-less promises made little difference. Campaign redistricting, voter suppression, threats to employees... a formidable range of intimidation tactics failed to produce. That's spiritual progress, because what prevailed was a greater awareness of truth than illusion.
The illusion came wrapped in pretty paper. Promises for tax reduction, more jobs, restoring America to its former glory. The truth? There's more work to do. And that's spiritual progress, because it acknowledges the fundamental principle underlying every aspect of our lives: the evolution of consciousness.
Now, there are two loaded words, and right in the same sentence! Evolution, the word that launched a thousand (million) arguments. And consciousness... duh? (I like the definition of semi-conscious as "the awareness of large trucks.") Readers drawn to this page are more likely than others to read past these conceptual party poopers so, for you survivors, let's forge ahead.
The universe, so "they" say, is expanding. What exactly does that mean? Does that theory paint a clear picture for you? Me neither. I mean, what exactly is expanding and what is it expanding into? Even more basic, what is the universe and is it part of something (which would be... what?) or is everything else part of it?
Brain freeze. Time out.
What makes these mysteries more accessible to me is substituting the word "consciousness" for "universe." Consciousness is expanding. Now, that's an actual experience that I have, usually every day. I buy a new phone and learn how to use voice mail. Expansion. My wife appreciates the way I rub her shoulders... "Yeah, right there." I learn something very useful! I read a novel and am surprised that this clue led to that clue led to that... realization!
Expansion. Learning. Growth. And realization.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: "Man's mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions." The universe is expanding. Consciousness is expanding. This is real, regardless of how we envision the universe, regardless of whether we subscribe to evolution or believe in creationism, worship God, a football player, a movie star, or our cat. The expansion of consciousness is an experience all of us have.
We writers strive to find words that convey the meaning we intend, navigating through the invisible mine field of readers beliefs. You'll decide whether I succeed with a word I now propose to describe spiritual progress in a way that links it to our expanding universe.
Drum roll please... "Realization."
That seems to be a fairly untainted word. It's not inherently "spiritual" like... well, "spiritual" or "God." It's not scientific like "universe" or New Agey like "energy." It's familiar; we all know what it feels like to realize something. So, I'm going to nominate this as a sensible term to describe spiritual progress. It even has the appropriate history, the concept of "self-realization." Just to connect the personal with the universal, try this: I have realizations... consciousness is realizing itself. I like that. It puts me, us, in Big Company.
There's a classic moment in the film Bridge Over the River Kwai when Alec Guinness's character has a realization. He stands amidst a hail of bullets, peels off his cap, and says something like, "Oh my God, what have I done?"
Recognize that? I don't mean the movie, I mean the realization. I know that feeling. I had it when I backed my car into a pile of cement blocks. "Oh my God, what have I done?" A rich friend of mine had it when he saw a documentary on our fraudulent financial system and said, "Oh my God, I'm in the 1 percent! I had no idea what's going on..." A relative had it when she realized a childhood friend was more than that: "Oh my God, I'm going to marry this guy."
I was blind, but now I see.
Obama won't save us. He won't destroy us. America's chilling predicament won't be solved by Democats in power. It wouldn't be solved by Republicans in power. It won't even be solved by all of them working together. Deliverance comes through hitching our wagon to something much bigger: our expanding universe.
Does this sound insanely impractical? I mean, imagine suggesting this in the White House? Well, when was the last time the planets collided? Do you expect the sun to shine tomorrow, whether you can see it or not? Do you worry about the earth being hit by a monster asteroid, unless Bruce Willis blows it up in time?
Closer to home, in fact, inside your home, will you have time today to regenerate enough cells in your body to replace the ones that die? What's your plan for digesting lunch? How about breathing? Have you locked in your shares of air options?
Billions of natural life functions coordinate together seamlessly in every millisecond, organized by something, somehow. Who or what is doing all this? My vote goes to whatever is causing the universe to expand. That's supposed to be inevitable and it's what gives me hope for us because, guess what? We're part of that!
This makes the result of the election inevitable. Likewise, when scientists assure us that the universe won't stop expanding for a few million years it means that we are unlikely to stop growing, learning... realizing, any time soon.
Realization. That's what's happening. Out there, in here, between us. It costs nothing, there's no infrastructure to maintain, and it's freely, equally available to every living form that exists within the universe, within consciousness.
I'm confident that I don't fully understand the implications of this perspective because I'm expanding as I write the words and will keep on realizing more and more. Today, tomorrow, and onward. I can feel this in my gut, in my soul, the realization that, beyond the cold stare of logic and the untamed dreams of the heart, there's a reason to believe that everything is going to be OK.
Originally Appeared on Huffington Post in November 2012