Chapters in the Story of Consciousness – Lecture Series, Vol 32 . read
Living and thriving in a Sick Society

Philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” So, if you don’t feel well adjusted, take heart! It probably means you’re exactly as you should be, and that you have a lot to offer this crazy world.

The focus of our exploration here is searching for a way to deal with a sick society in our everyday lives. We will explore how to reconcile our free will with the greater unity consciousness of our society and to a lesser degree the world. 

I will create a portrait of America as a sick society, but it is by no means all-inclusive of its faults, nor does it explore its many good features and virtues. 

Many other countries may be considered more insane or sicker, but we will keep the focus on the US. The point is no matter where one lives we need to see how we fit in, how we can contribute to society, and not lose our minds over the blunders, stupidity, greed, corruption, malice, and unfairness that happens all around us in society.

 We have partisan division in this country that could lead to a civil war according to some. We are losing faith in our institutions to solve our problems. Untruths, lies, and misinformation abound in a wild west show called the internet. It appears the former president committed criminals acts assaulting our capitol and lying about the results of the last presidential election. We have frequent mass shootings killing school children and other innocent people on a regular basis. Respect for the rule of law has diminished greatly.

 Our elected officials have been given a mandate to legislate common sense laws to protect us and improve the quality of our lives but that often does not happen. If we are the same religion, same color and hold the same beliefs as those in power than life appears less sick, disruptive, or insane. However even those who share the same qualities of either party that is in power are exhausted, stressed out and anxious about our quality of life as citizens in a seemingly dysfunctional culture. 

Our free will gets mashed up into the unity consciousness of a society we do not control directly but we are a party too. Unity consciousness or the will of all of us in a society decides its rules, laws, and morality. 

Individual units of consciousness (human beings) naturally gravitate to a model that allows for independent liberties and freedoms. We thrive in a world that offers creativity, spiritual and loving experiences through free will choices.

Human beings evolve consciousness over the course of a life by making good choices. Unity consciousness often seems at odds with the way we believe the world should work because others see things differently than ourselves. They may have more or less experiences that guide their choices than we do but we are obliged to accommodate or compromise on how we govern ourselves. In other words, our choices often seem reduced to something between bad, terrible and none. 

When it comes to choosing the outcome, we want in an election or a law we want passed, the minority seems as likely to prevail in stopping something the majority and common sense indicates is in the best interest of everyone.

A profoundly sick society can still be a beautiful place to be if we can develop the skills Krishnamurti was talking about, essentially to be our authentic self and still fit in.

 If you are sensitive or have just one artistic bone in your body a sick society can provide all the love and the colors of the rainbow for your paint brush one moment and the next it will break your heart or smear your painting. The question is how do we maintain balance so that we can live a life of love and rainbows and minimize the societal stress in our lives .

Some people respond to a sick society through activism. Activists will tell others that their lack of action is part of the problem. But everyone responds differently to the sickness we should label as insanity. Most people’s response largely depends on  how much energy and time they have and what they believe about their ability to effect real, lasting change. Most people simply don’t believe that they can make a meaningful difference in the sick world.

Despite technology’s promises to save us time, it’s actually made us busier, more scattered, and less comfortable with slowing down. In a way it prevents us from recuperating from all the busy-ness and being deeply thoughtful about the more important things needed to live a higher quality life.

We are constantly bombarded with messages from advertisers about how we can be or look better, become rich or some other temporary thing to fixate on to relieve our stress. We are members of a society where everyone seems wrapped up with trying to physically change themselves or get  enough money to acquire some more stuff. We have been sold the dream that more stuff, a better job, and life on the treadmill both literally and figuratively is happiness waiting to happen.  

Historically we have had great leaders who do what we elected them to do. The world seems more complex now, add to that the more profound question, can any leader move a society whose citizens have lost faith in themselves and one another and their system of government?

Whenever you feel insecure, demoralized, depressed, irritable, or some version of “there’s something wrong here,” remember that everything sweet and wise inside of you is probably, on some level responding to the insanity in a sick society. In trying to survive — let alone thrive — in a sick society, you’re attempting something that’s incredibly difficult, to be your authentic self and create a space in which you can do that. 

In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says that we have three options for dealing with a given situation. We can accept it, attempt to change it, or attempt to get out of it altogether. Any other response is just resistance, and resisting what is, according to Tolle, is simply insane. So now we have a working definition of insanity, resistance. 

Accept it, change it, or get out of it. I think Tolle gives us a fundamental place to start but it is too simple for the complexity of our world today. I suggest that living life in a sick world is just another ongoing dimension of experiences designed to evolve our consciousness. If we take that worldview it gives us purpose in the game. Back to Tolle, we must be prepared to choose one or all of the options to cope with any one issue that arises today. 

While resistance is a form of insanity and I completely support non-resistance as a spiritual solution called surrender, it is not a realistic choice when a society requires change. Tolle’s alternative might be to get out of it by finding a new country, not something the vast majority of us can legitimately consider. Society is an ever-evolving activity in consciousness, and it can and must change to survive. Any system that does not evolve will perish through entropy or chaos.

 Democracy theoretically allows us to resist and still win through compromise and knowing the election may empower an agenda that gives one hope. It is a good system when it is fairly and honorably governed.

Engaging with the emotions a sick society inflicts on its citizens to maintain some kind of status quo will require ever greater numbers of people who can maintain their equilibrium while those about them are losing theirs. The best thing we can each do is to take responsibility for ourselves, know who we are and what we truly want from life. 

The best path to discovering who we are and what we want is a vigilant meditation practice. Once you come to know yourself well enough to fully understand society’s sickness is not our sickness, you will be in the eye of the storm. Most likely you will employ tolerance, forgiveness, surrender or any combination of those things in your journey. All aspects of Tolle’s accept it, change it, or get out of it perspective.  

Engage in self-inquiry, blessings and prayers in your meditations and you will discover what  you can or should do to maintain and thrive in a sick society. It is all within you and you have access to this path, but you must do the work. Commit to learning these techniques and you will have dug your well before you need the water.

The serenity prayer summarizes spiritual wisdom that we can come to know how to employ through self-inquiry and will provide direction on things to get us centered again. It is a good opening to self-inquiry in your meditation when the insanity of the world overtakes you. You most likely have heard this before:  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Over a lifetime there will be an ebb and flow of issues and solutions, leaders who will succeed and those who will fail, technologies that will save us and others that will create greater problems, a unity conscious of oneness and other times of division, a time of greater personal freedom and time of fear based contraction of liberties, times of peace and times of war, a time for making new found allies and enemies, times of expanded love and creativity and times of division and otherness, times of prosperity and times of impoverishment. 

There will always be those with great wealth and those with great wisdom. Do not be misled into thinking that people of great wealth must be wise, be discerning in your judgement of what represents a role model for societies best interests.

Here is a fact to consider, civilization has always been sick. Since tribes became city states, there has always been some level of insanity for some part of the community. There is no reason believe that will ever change but there is every reason to believe we can adapt to be at peace in a sick society. It has been done over the course of millennia by many and you can find this path for yourself. 

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