I wish you waves of grace, inspiring experiences and real advances in your spiritual development. At the same time I pray for global healing and a harmonious, sustainable and just society.
Looking forward it might be good to assess how we might achieve change and I want to focus on two particular themes.
The first theme is about how humanity as a whole has peak experiences and how as a global community we experience collective moments of inspiration. Hugely significant and transformational global events do indeed affect all of us.
The second theme is aroundÂ hope. I do not mean wishful thinking, nor do I just mean an optimistic mood. What I am looking at is that deep spiritual experience when we find ourselves in a mystical state of love, compassion and wisdom, and in the words of the 14th century Christian saint Julian of Norwich we experience:
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
Those wonderful words about hope come from a spiritual knowing that transcends time and space, that love-benevolence-compassion is the underlying substance of all existence, in the beginning and in the end; and the journey of souls through suffering and pain is ultimately about revealing and integrating this love.
Of course this statement that all shall be well may be provocative to those who see it as a naive way of denying reality. But to be in a state of hope, to experience that all shall be well, is in fact a profound balm. It radiates love into human realities.
Sometimes it is difficult for us to acknowledge the love and wonder of life. Our glasses are half empty and we only see the negative stuff. The lows, the crises, the wars and famines, the ecological stupidity, the religious conflicts, the mad cycles of the global economic system. All this can be demoralising. We may previously have had peak experiences of spirituality and fully felt that God is Love, but worn down by the grind of daily life we may lose our sense of hope.
This is when spiritual practice is so crucial. The daily rhythm of taking time to connect with spirit is essential, creating a groove of connection to see us through rough and challenging times.
Groups, communities and humanity as a whole also experience peaks of inspiration. Have you ever, for example, been to a concert where you were part of a collective high? Could you feel the collective inspiration and joy around the recent London Olympics? Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was a global blessing wasn’t it! Do you remember the first Live Aid concert when the whole world tuned into the idealism that Bob Geldorf initiated? Do you remember when the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love was broadcast globally and when John Lennon sang Imagine? These were collective experiences.
It was magic too for the whole planet when Nelson Mandela walked free and apartheid ended. Do you remember the fall of the Berlin Wall?
These are all global peak experiences. But would they be possible without the absolute wonders of modern broadcasting, media and digital technology? No wonder that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, was celebrated in the Olympics opening ceremony. For many mystics the internet is a tangible manifestation of humanity’s essential unity and connection.
There are many collective peak experiences through human history. There are also collective miracles if you choose to notice them.
Three hundred years ago, for example, the vast majority of people in the UK were uneducated and illiterate. Despite an increase in population from six million to sixty million, everyone today can receive education. Three hundred years ago life expectancy was approximately thirty-five years and two thirds of all children died before the age of four. Today life expectancy is passing eighty and children enjoy their childhood. Three hundred years ago running water in your home was a rare privilege and today it is there for everyone. Miracles! And yes, of course, they need to be spread to every corner of the globe.
The Renaissance too was sensational wasn’t it? And what about the Magna Carta? Or the founding of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation? And as students of spirituality, weren’t the lives of Jesus and Buddha global highs?
Is our glass half empty or half full? Do we see what is inspiring and wonderful? Every new-born child is a miracle. Every blade of grass, every cloud, demonstrates the magic of life.
In our personal spiritual lives we know that we have to integrate the high spiritual inspirations through a daily practice of compassion, love and mindfulness.
As a global community the inspiring highs also have to be integrated through careful, intelligent and committed daily endeavour. Education and health for everyone, harmonious societies, require work. It is ongoing daily labour that manifests the miracles in the real world. As Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, famously said, ‘Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety nine per cent perspiration.’ Inspiration and peak experiences ground and integrate through labour.
So here is my counsel:
- Give attention to inspiration, progress and miracles.
- Do practical things every day, appropriate to you and your situation, that build a better and more just society.
- Spiritually, maintain an attitude of hope deep in your very core. All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.