Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of October 22, 2018

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Climate Change

(Change and the Changeless: 4)

Most of us have so far experienced little impact from climate change. To the extent, however, that climate change is causing more frequent and more ferocious storms, millions of people have already suffered devastating impacts. Numerous, ongoing other destructive effects proceed apace.

To look for the cause of climate change, we need look no further than the mirror. We cannot legitimately shunt the blame onto climate change-denying politicians. To adopt a truly carbon-neutral lifestyle remains out of reach for most of us. To diminish our personal contribution to carbon emissions is within our reach, and need not wait for laws and regulations to drive it. Science, conscience, and awareness can guide us in that endeavor.

What is my responsibility with regard to the growing threat of climate change on this beautiful planet, which so graciously supports me, which gives its splendor as a backdrop for my life, and to which I have obligations? The answer is not the same for all of us, but its origin is: our individual conscience, our personal inner source of truth. If we let it, our conscience can show us the path of responsibility.

That responsibility also extends to inner climate change. This is not only our personal inner climate: what it's like to be us, to be in us, how our thoughts go, how much peace we have, whether we are inwardly respectful of others or critical and rejecting, and so on. Our own inner climate affects the inner climate of our family, our community, our nation and our planet. In the same way that we are responsible for our own small piece of the outer environment, we are also responsible for the inner environment, our own, and how we affect the wider inner environment.

Do we inwardly reject other people? It's one thing to disagree with people about how our country should be managed and how the future we envision should be built. It's an entirely different matter to reject the people we disagree with, to put them out of our heart. So in the face of our political divisions, we need to take great care not to contribute to an atmosphere of hatred. We all share the same planet. We share our nation with all our fellow citizens. While we may disagree on how our country should be managed, can we nevertheless respect all our fellow citizens? Can we keep the polarization of our politics from invading and infecting our inner world?

In the same way that the atmosphere and the oceans are heating up, our politics, driven by deep divisions, is heating up our inner climate. This political heat can be just as dangerous and destructive as the atmospheric and oceanic heat. Perhaps we take vigorous political action to push the agenda we believe is right for our collective future. If so, can we do it in a way that respects and recognizes the humanity of all, including those who disagree with us? After all, they are human beings, like we are.

What is changeless in that inner climate is that what it's like to be a person, what it's like to be you, what it's like to be me, is the same for all of us. We all have the same equipment. We look out through these eyes. We listen through these ears. We eat. We sleep. We live in this body. We live in our inner awareness. All that and more is common to all of us. Though the details vary, they do not fundamentally change from person to person.

In America, this became clear in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. We knew we were all in the same boat and the feeling of fellowship rose across the country. That fellowship still awaits us below the surface of our hearts and minds. Can we find it again, even without a national calamity?

Beyond the fact that we most assuredly need each other, why do this? Why concern ourselves with respect for and fellowship with all? If we wish to serve the deepest purpose of our life, then we need to move from separation toward unity. Every spiritual and religious tradition points in that direction, the direction of oneness. Our own sense of what is true shows us the rightness of that.

For this week, please review your own approach to climate change, inner and outer.


        

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