Who here hasn't asked, "What's next?" We're seeing our insular financial, healthcare, spiritual and political environments white-knuckling the outdated ways while newer ideas are emerging-all looking to answer "What's next?" from a worldwide, integrated view. Formerly unquestioned ideologies that only benefit the few are being challenged. Constitutional laws about healthcare are likewise being rewritten, and more people are waking up to the underlying causes of financial crises worldwide and working to recreate them as well.
Belief systems, cultures, and even nations seem to be clinging on to old paradigms and identities like an ego in its dark night(s) of the soul; the painful yet necessary emergence of the true self breaking through the walls of egocentric separation and identity. These darkest nights are inclusive of inner and outer chaos; questioning, doubt and fear and can only be eased via an awareness of what is happening and a letting go of resistance to what was. It is at this level that all things loving and positively transformative can begin.
Spiritual awakening has a completely different feel from any other kind of awakening. It's the proverbial "A-ha moment" that lets us know on a very deep level - a level way beyond ideas or beliefs - that there is much more to the world and to ourselves than what we currently typically experience. In what many have called 'enlightenment', there is a profound inner transformation. There is an inner knowing that what we think, say, and do affects more than just ourselves; they affect everyone and everything. But until we really know that and act from that awareness, it's too easy to get caught in "What about me?" That ego-driven inquiry has resulted in all of the chaos we presently experience, both inner and outer.
I do not propose a 'self-less' society by any means. More, a 'self-full' one. When we can fill ourselves from the inside-out, while knowing it's not just us who benefits, there is an energetic expansion. This expansion is an energy of service, which, according to Kabbalah, is not only the reason we're here, but also what makes us feel the best. Being in service breaks down the walls of separation and opens a new level of trust and connection to the Divine and all that exists within it.
$1 or $20?
A few years ago, after a class in Kabbalah on being in service, I entered a NYC subway and witnessed a young man dancing to make a few extra dollars, or even bits of small change. While some of the riders ignored him completely, others were enjoying his performance. I was among the latter.
My Kabbalah instructor had been talking about the energy of giving, to not do so out of pity, but only because of a genuine feeling of appreciation, respect, and heart-based compassion for the receiver. In fact, it reminded me of a time a few years prior when I was playing guitar in the Astor Street subway station and someone gave me a pity dollar. She approached me while trains were passing and there was no way she could hear what I was playing. That was a low point for me, to be on the receiving end of pity. And from that time on, I've only given from a place of compassion, generosity, and a true human spirit level, and always felt good doing so.
This time however, as I compassionately opened my wallet to take out a dollar bill, I was greeted with only twenties. I'm not complaining; twenties are nicer to see in my wallet than singles, but it meant I'd either have to pass on giving this young dancer anything or giving him a twenty. My mind raced, "What? $20? For three minutes of dance? At that rate, he'd make..." and, "You can't not give something if you watched the performance." (Kind of an unwritten rule in my head says that if I'm not going to give anything, to then act like most of the other NYers and ignore the performer.) But my heart, perhaps reminded of itself from the subject discussed in class, overrode the random, jocular mind ramblings and I handed him a twenty dollar bill!
"But that's the equivalent of making $400 an Hour!"
This dancer touched his own heart, indicating he was emotionally affected, looked me in the eye and thanked me sincerely with more emotion than words. I felt expansive and filled with love and gratitude. And it was because I was giving from the heart from a place of service, and not from the more typical, "What about me?" And, ironically, I got just as much out of it as he did.
Ripples in a Pond
Like the pond's ripples that seem to forever go outward that began from a single point, this, too is how outer transformation of even global issues can change for the better. I could have given in to "me-only" thinking and not given that performer anything, but instead I did give and in turn I did receive. I was flying high for several hours after that, almost wondering when I could get a chance to do it again. I also knew that my sharing from that place affected others on the subway car. As I beamed with loving energy, those who did look my way seemed more open and relaxed. I felt that the people I did connect with - even for a brief moment - could feel some degree of what I was feeling.
I believe that many of our societal ills will be healed when we come from a place of connected service. This does not mean that we have to give $20 to everyone we see, or anyone who asks for a handout. I've heard former homeless people say their extreme despair was worsened more by the feeling of aloneness than the feeling of being financially impoverished. Sometimes a look and a brief smile can do as much for someone as giving them money. To really be in service, I think it's best to either intuit what's needed, or even to ask someone, "How can I be of service to you?" We can then honour the request or not, but at least we've inquired and now have the opportunity. At least we've made human contact in a world of more and more electronic contact that ironically can bring people together as well as make them feel more alone.
We may not know what's next, or if we do, we may not know when it'll happen when looking at bigger-picture problems - some of which need to be addressed much sooner than others. Some seem too big, but only by coming from a connected place - a less egocentric perspective - can anything change positively and with permanence. When we are looking to change others or other paradigms from a weakened, "me-only" place, it is felt negatively by other people. When we look to impose rather than propose meaningful solutions, we're not seen and heard by the heart, but more by other egos. And when egos meet egos, nothing good can arise.
I find it's better to rest in the uncertainty while actively participating in a certain creation.
What's Next in Healthcare?
It's rare to find someone without an opinion on how to change things. The only thing we do agree on is that things have to change; but while some are adhering to rules written hundreds if not thousands of years ago, others are opening up to a new way of being - a connected place with Spirit, rather than the disconnected place of the ego-driven mind. A beingness from compassion and love rather than profit-driven incentives. Bear in mind, I'm not against money at all, I am however, against its misuse and against having money taught to us as the end-all-misery prescription.
Prescriptions of heart-centred living will affect all systems in a more positive manner over the long term. As someone who has been providing what some might call alternative health care services for the last two decades, I can attest to the fact that both I and my client feel better when I'm coming from this heart-centred way of being. I feel I can do more for a client by truly listening and sending loving energy than by me rambling on about my own belief systems from a list of 'should-be' and 'shouldn't-be' that I've learned from other people's paradigms. Similar to helping out the impoverished as stated above, I now either intuit what's needed or ask how I can best be of service. 'Should-be' is replaced with acceptance of what is, and opening to what 'could-be'. From that open place, we can both know on a very deep level what's best done, and best not done. The spiritual connection we form affects our state of mind, and because what happens in the mind then happens in the body, both of us feel great afterward.
This spiritual transformation of connection and inner knowing affects all things. We don't have to be enlightened in the traditional sense to act in an enlightened manner. We don't need that gigantic 'A-ha' moment to expand our consciousness and know that all things are connected. Smaller moments of bliss are all we need. Like the joy in having given a subway performer what was likely his largest tip of the day, or connecting with someone who is emotionally impoverished - perhaps lost in a sea of aloneness - it's the smaller, minute fractions of heart-centred living that when accumulated over time transform the larger picture in a more holistic, long-term manner.