Expanding in the Midst of Contraction, by Gary Stamper


Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, writer and lecturer, and whose philosophy is often summarized by his phrase, “follow your bliss,” once said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”

That’s what we’re doing; Shedding the skin of the old paradigms so the new paradigms can emerge. But, there’s no guarantee that we’ll succeed, or that things won’t get so bad that we regress in consciousness, maybe all the way down to survival…or worse.

Even the most dedicated collapse-deniers are beginning to question their flagging faith, and are starting to wonder, “how bad will it get?” This group includes those who adamantly believe that we’ll somehow pull through, that technology will save us, that we’ll suddenly shift the planetary mass consciousness to new never-seen-before heights or  – my personal favorite – the aliens who have been watching will not let humanity fall that far. It looks as if the only ones who aren’t getting nervous are the sociopaths and those who have their shadows locked down so tight they dare not bring them to light.

I know you’ve heard it all before: Energy, economics, environment, government, politics, religion, education, and on and on and on…name a system that literally isn’t in free fall. Oh, there’s the occasional exception that proves the rule: The new housing bubble, the indomitable stock market, the dollar, US empire…and if you believe that path is going to continue, that infinite growth on a finite planet can last much longer, or even that your pension is safe, then I feel really bad for you, all cocooned up in what you think is your safe place. I feel bad for you, but not as bad as you’re going to feel when the Great Contraction rips it all from your unsuspecting and frail grasp.

I feel bad for you, but I can’t talk to you anymore, and I’m no longer trying to wake you up or convince you that we’re in serious trouble on so many fronts. You’re not the person this essay is geared toward. You’re either in denial that there even is a contraction, or worse, you’re one of the blind or greedy causes of the contraction.

If you’re the person this essay is aimed at, you know the only person you can change is you. Those of you who see what’s going on all around you are the ones I’m writing this for; the ones who want everything to work out, and hope that they will, but just don’t see how that’s going to happen short of some kind of a miracle.

Well, I believe in miracles. I see them happen all the time. I see men and women who are working hard, hard – and digging deep – to transform their lives into something new, but it’s not on the outside that these miracle occur: It’s not about a bigger car or a bigger house, a better income, or a killer 401k, material possessions or a comfortable lifestyle. It’s on the inside, it’s authentic. It’s the crux of who they were, leaving all that behind; it’s who they’ve become having broken out of the illusion of everything that was only temporary and false.

Joseph Campbell also said:

“We have not even to risk the journey alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

What is the labyrinth that is thoroughly known, and what is the thread of the hero-path? Besides being physically prepared by beginning your collapse before it happens, it is preparing for the emotional and spiritual needs of ourselves and others that will pay off, regardless of the outcome. It is the path of the Spiritual Warrior.

Reclaiming Your Inner Territory

Wisdom traditions, the great philosophies, and almost all religions beginning with Shamanism – going back tens of thousands of years – taught these paths before they were twisted into convincing us that we’re separate, not connected, different, that we are the masters of the planet and that we can do whatever we want to do because we’re at the top of the food chain and we deserve it; that we don’t need each other and it’s okay to take whatever we want whenever we want it and from whomever we want. These false and limiting belief structures and our emotional addictions to them continually undermine us, because deep down we fear that we’ll be alone and abandoned, and that we will lose control of reality, not realizing that we already have.

We have a self-fulfilling limited belief structure that is in the process of taking humanity down because we can’t see the big picture. We’re incapable of doing the emotional work of reclaiming our inner territory; we can’t surrender control.

More and more of us have to be willing to go into the dark parts of ourselves – and others – and learn to love them both. We must learn to accept the enemy within, individually and collectively, and stand up and acknowledge that it is part of who we are. By owning and loving our darkest parts, we can learn how to reach a state of contentment, and relax into that contentment, understanding that we are a subset of a larger ecology. The acclaimed Buddhist Monk, poet, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“The solution is to learn how to touch eternity in the present moment. We have been talking about the environment as if it is something different from us, but we are the environment. The non-human elements are our environment, but we are the environment of non-human elements, so we are one with the environment. We are the environment. We are the earth and the earth has the capacity to restore balance and sometimes many species have to disappear for the balance restored. Maybe the flood, maybe the heat, maybe the air.”

All of us have a petty tyrant within us, someone who just judges and bugs us with impunity. But petty tyrants – once they come into the light – can show us how we can change and make things work better, including our relationships, our communities, and who we are the core of our being: an eternal being who is capable of coming into alignment with it all.

Becoming a Spiritual Warrior

Inside us,
who we are as an eternal being
meets the person who is here temporarily.
This is where the Spirit,
the emanation from God,
meets us.
It is called our point of convergence
or, variously,
a point of concentration or attention.

– from the book “Spiritual Warrior” by John Roger

It would be folly to posit that the problems we face today began with the industrial revolution and the discovery of oil as an energy source. While our problems have grown more complex, ancient mythology informs us that the destruction of worlds is accompanied by catastrophic circumstances. Wherever we look today we see evidence of impending catastrophe. Would it be wise to deduce quickly then that our world is coming to an end? Well, maybe, maybe not, but never in our history have we faced the multitude of problems all converging on us at the same time: problems, anyone of which would be a serious problem by itself.

It is time to come into alignment with whatever spiritual belief we hold, and do so at the highest value of it, the “point of convergence,” where spirit, the emanation of God, in whatever form, meets us and where we meet it/him/her/that, whatever we call it: It is time to manifest your spirit.

By defining “manifestation” as “appearing physically,” we are only taking into account the physical form. Successful manifestation is only complete if it results in a change of consciousness. The change in consciousness, in turn, is the realization that what you sought in a physical form and is the very essence of what is already inside you. “Having” doesn’t mean possessing in a physical form. It means no longer experiencing the need.

There are people who object to the concept of the Spiritual Warrior. While the word “warrior” my bring to mind images of armed conflict, becoming a spiritual warrior has nothing to do with violence. People may say. “We’ve had too much warrior energy on the planet and look where it’s gotten us.”

The warrior energy those people are referring to is that of the old warrior—the unquestioning soldier. The new warrior, the one who stays awake and alert, who questions authority, is exactly what we need today if we are to survive as a species and shift to the awakening that has been prophesied for ages—sometimes called “the great shift,” “the planetary ascension,” “the quickening,” “an evolutionary leap,” and more recently, “The Great Turning.” Today’s new warrior fights the battle within, fighting him or herself. A spiritual warrior’s principles are inner peace, tranquility, love, power, strength, honor, majesty, and respect—and we have to fight for these principles, for no freedom is free. But the fight is within, and it it belongs to each of us.

The problems we face today require the decisive action and internal discipline of the warrior, who at their innermost center moves fearlessly into the void, tempered by the Lover’s heart, the Magician’s skill, and the King’s big-picture consciousness. If we repress the warrior, it goes into shadow and will eventually reemerge in unhealthy and even sociopathic ways. It happens all the time.

The Five Characteristics of the Spiritual Warrior

As long as we are hampered by our old mindsets, even formulating our highest intention will be a daunting task. More importantly, we need to practice being in spirit, being in alignment with our spiritual intention so that it becomes our habitual state. Ultimately, we are going to upgrade our addictions. Our habits are the things that trap us, so that we keep moving toward our intention. Incorporating these five characteristics into everything we do will bring us closer to our inner spirit each day:

1. The spiritual warrior accepts all things. This means no judgment and no resistance. (No one ever said that these practices were easy!)
2. The spiritual warrior cooperates with all things. You know you are not a control, but it looks as if you are.
3. The spiritual warrior understands all things. This doesn’t mean you can explain everything that is going on within you; you just have to awaken to your experience of it. Then understanding appears.
4. The spiritual warrior has enthusiasm for all things. When you open to the Spirit, its energy pours through you, and you regain the wonder and awe of life.
5. The spiritual warrior has empathy for all things. Others are going through the same trials as you, so there is no need to feel superior or inferior.

All that is needed is that we just do the best we can do.

The only thing you can do on the planet
is the best you can.
The people on the Earth
do it the best they can,
and then they say it wasn’t the best they could.
And then they worry about that,
because they could have done better.
And if they are given another chance
they will do it the same way the second time too.
And a third, and a fourth, and fifth, and sixth.
What you might say to them is,
“If you could have done better,
you would have done better,
and you did the best you could.”

– from the book “Spiritual Warrior” by John-Roger


Author’s note: Many of the concepts in this article were adapted from
“Spiritual Warrior: The Art of Spiritual Living” by John-Roger, Mandeville Press (April 1, 2009)

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One Response to “Expanding in the Midst of Contraction, by Gary Stamper”

  1. Don Says:

    Gary:

    Very interesting and as usual, impassioned article.

    Let me ask you a question (or a series of questions)

    Most of the people I spent time with in New York’s East Village in the 1970s saw that virtually all of the institutions you speak of – education, medicine, government etc were collapsing. I dont’ recall anyone feeling anything but hopeful, optimistic enthusiasm.

    I don’t understand why someone would be concerned about this collapse, since it means the ending of all this dysfunctional institutions.

    But what about all the things we’re attached to? Well, many of the people I know who have lived in monastic or monastic like communities felt great joy in living in a 10-10 room with little or no possessions, spending most of their time doing simple manual work, enjoying the company of others and meditating.

    One of the happiest times of my life was 12 days I spent in the Maryland State forest. I had a few pounds of rice and lentils to cook in an outdoor wood fire, and alternated 1 hour of sitting with 1 hour of walking for 10 hours a day.

    What is going to happen in the next 20-30 years that will prevent people from gathering food (roots, nuts, herbs, etc) in a forest and living in an improvised tent-like shelter? I don’t see it (except for the marauding hordes who will – what? steal the tent? then you make another one) so why not focus on inner change, the kind that one needs in the present just as much as in any dystopian future?

    With God all things can be done – how’s that for a New Yorker who has spent hte last 10 years living below the Mason Dixon line?

    Or if you prefer, “let go and let Buddha”:>))

    Or, to follow Ramana Maharshi,”WHO” is concerned about what will happen in the future?”

    I know, evolutionary spirituality goes beyond the old nondual paradigm, but I don’t think it supplants it. If we have developed true equanimity in the present, then our only concern as the old civilization and old order comes crashing down is, “How can I help facilitate the emergence of the new, interconnected consciousness, a consciousness which will manifest harmony not conflict and confusion.

    Very best,
    Don

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