Watch Cynthia Bourgeault’s response to the United States’ presidential election and read her full reflection below.
As of November 9, we are all in a new ball field: there is great grief, fear, consternation, lack of understanding, and heartbreak. In many ways it feels like the “back of the hand” to all the things that we as growing spiritual seekers look for, such as love, charity, compassion, and respect for the otherness of others. Now that the shake-up has occurred, it is our calling to use our heads and hearts in a broader, Teilhardian sort of way, to look at what is needed now and how we might collaborate with it to creating new possibilities in our world.
From Teilhard we have the reassurance that evolutionary change flows over deep time. Events which, viewed at the wrong scale (i.e., too close up), look like devastating upheavals may actually prove to be relatively minor systemic adjustments. Beneath the surface ripples and rapids, the river itself is still flowing smoothly in its channel.
The vision of a single, unified humanity burns as strongly as ever as these tectonic plates of consciousness and culture grind up against each other. I sense very clearly that my own work calls me strongly to continue with the task of strengthening and deepening the international and interspiritual aspects of my teaching. It was very meaningful to be in the UK on election night, to meditate with a group of nearly 300 seekers in Bristol, and to reaffirm palpably the power and presence of that quietly unstoppable Christ-Omega, drawing us along to that fullness of love that has been the trajectory—the sole trajectory—throughout these fourteen billion years. That is the corner of this vineyard in which I feel personally the most impelled to work.
Back on our home turf, am I totally off base in my intuition that the missing, underlying third force has something to do with safety? Viewed from a slightly longer range and slightly out-of-left field perspective, I keep seeing that this election of Donald Trump in a way completes an octave that began on September 11, 2001. In the last fifteen years our country has struggled under a pervasive and growing sense of vulnerability, impotence, helplessness, of having been subjected to a collective rape which still paralyzes the resolve, the gout de vivre, as Teilhard calls it. It expresses itself across the board: in the obsession with guns and gun violence, the very real threats to life and wellbeing in marginalized communities, and in the more privileged classes with the almost hysteria around food, security, and child safety. I really believe that at a subliminal level, Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” speaks to that sense of releasing the paralyzed, hang-dog fear which is the only America we have come to know. It’s not really about economics. It’s about something way deeper. . . .
At least a basis on which to begin: If we could quit calling each other idiots and “deplorables” and begin to deal with the deep terror, the desperation and helplessness which is felt across the board, we might begin to sense the ways to draw together.
What will be required of us all working in this particular wisdom bandwidth, I believe, is that old quality metis, which Peter Kingsley described so well in his book Reality. It really means an alert, supple shrewdness—like Jesus, when cornered by the question, “Must we pay taxes to Caesar?” It’s an ability to be present in our bodies in our hearts, to live beyond fear and judgment, and because of this non-identification, to be able to use the materials immediately at hand in the moment to see what must be done—again, immediately in the moment.
If anything has been the victim of this election, it’s pluralistic consciousness: the sense of sanctimony, moral rectitude, urgency, and judgmentalism that has infected so much of the liberal progressive culture where so many of us have tried, with the very best of intentions, to do our work. Weighed in the balance, alas, and found wanting. We have to learn to work from a more skillful place, reading the signs of the times, trust love, find our voices once again to “speak truth to power.”
Yes, a lot of sacred cows are about to be slaughtered, I fear. We will see social and environmental benchmarks we have worked for decades summarily undone. (I don’t need to enumerate; way too depressing.) We must understand this in advance and not let every defeat become an armageddon, a reason for falling on our swords. The earth has a will, and the one body of humanity has coalesced too far to be deconstructed. They will be our partners. They have intelligence and resilience we can draw on, if we can only not lose the way in fear and despair.
And so, Contemplatives, “Allons!” Let us go forward. There is work to be done; prayer, joy, courage, and strength are deeply needed. And we do know the way there. This is Wisdom’s hour.
Thomas Kelly, Holy Obedience
Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart