The reading of two articles, The Coronation, by Charles Eisenstein, The Pandemic is a Portal, by Arundhati Roy, a book, How Shall I Live My Life? On Liberating the Earth from Civilization, by Derrick Jensen, inspired this essay.
Few would deny that an interesting experience is passing through us. Our responses to it are as diverse as we are. According to some what we are witnessing is of Biblical proportions, the promise of Armageddon, the disintegration of Babylon, the long-awaited for Last Judgment. For some it is the collapse of an economic system that we hold responsible for our problems and suffering. Some reckon that it is no more than a reconfiguration of the existing economic hegemony, same players, more greed; or it’s Bill Gates fulfilling his desire to depopulate the planet.
Some of us are calling it the healing of the earth as we witness the clearing of canals and lakes, skies free of toxic emissions, and expressways relieved of the noise of honking horns and the traffic of weekday commutes. Siting evidence of pumas roaming freely in Santiago and wild turkeys strutting the streets of Oakland, some have arrived at the conclusion that, yes, this is it. The finale, the collapse of civilization. And it is the opportune time to begin the creation of the New Narrative.
As a Sufi, a student of ACIM (A Course in Miracles) and ACOL (A Course of Love), my response is that we’re receiving another call, a rather strong one I might add, to awaken or to shift consciousness. But before I elaborate, let me clarify something prior to any conclusions that might be drawn about what, in part, motivates my response to the pandemic, which is my engagement with ACIM and ACOL—a conclusion that might suggest that both courses are exclusive and New Agey.
“It’s not up to you what you learn, but only whether you learn through joy or through pain.” – A Course in Miracles
The Earth is known in the Universe as the planet where spirits come to awaken to the realization of our true identity. This awakening is achieved through learning, and we know this, instinctively, if not consciously. We all express knowledge of, for lack of a better word or for sounding too Matrixy, a learning program. It is reflected in our speech, in all languages. How many times have we said, “I learned my lesson.”? Many of us can recall memories of our mothers, or fathers, saying to us, “You like learning your lessons the hard way.”
My mother used to say to me, “You’re going to learn a good lesson from going out in this cold weather with that short skirt on,” or “sooner or later, you’re going to learn that lesson,” about something or another.
How often do we hear, “We’re here to learn,” and, “Life is a learning experience.”
Then in respect to the current pandemic, “This is a lesson for the whole world.” In a conversation about the pandemic (because few are talking about anything else) my friend commented, “I can’t wait until this is over so we can see what we’ve learned from it.”
I am personally looking forward to seeing people’s lips moving when they’re talking.
The experience of life on this planet “is” the curriculum, or learning program, the goal of which is to awaken us to our true identity, to awaken us to what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and so many before and after him, stated so succinctly:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Whether or not the awakening comes through the experience of courses with awakening as the stated goal, such as ACIM or ACOL matters little, because everyone is engaged in the curriculum. Everyone is on track for awakening. Living on this planet is engagement with the curriculum. All experiences, the totality of life, are lessons contained in Earth’s Awakening curriculum, uniquely tailored for each of us, all 8 billion, or less if Bill Gates gets his wish.
Awakening is why we are here. The curriculum is mandatory, and it’s inescapable. The curriculum has a beginning, and when its goal is accomplished, with the return to our true identity, it comes to an end. There is exclusivity built into the curriculum, naturally. It’s obvious that a course such as ACIM may not appeal to an environmental activist who chooses mainly to engage the curriculum through her relationship with the planet. A doctor may learn the lessons of awakening mainly through the art of healing, a chef through her love of food, and all the while, lessons are taking places in the other avenues of our lives, taking care of our homes, families, work, hobbies, traveling.
This is all to say that ACIM and ACOL are simply courses under the umbrella of Earth’s Awakening curriculum; they’re for some, not for all.
“Know within your heart that your life is tailor-made for awakening.” Mooji
The curriculum, or life on this planet, irrespective of the unique choices that we make for how we want to engage in it, leads to awakening and the dawning of the New Age. Of late, we have moved away from the words “New Age” to the words New Earth and/or New Narrative.
The pandemic that has impacted almost all lives on the planet is included in the curriculum. What we learn from the pandemic-lesson is in alignment with the goal of the curriculum: awakening. What each of us learns from the lesson will, of course, be varied, but the learning will be optimal for what each of us is able to accept in this moment.
Simply put, irrespective of the appearance of the unique responses to “a” lesson, the response “is” the sign that learning has been achieved, and according to the goal of the curriculum, movement towards awakening has occurred. Again, let’s not lose sight, like many of us have, that the pandemic-lesson is not the only lesson we are engaged in. It is simply the lesson that is garnering most of our attention.
Now for the responses: there will be a lot of babies born 9 months from now. Our families will be mourning the loss of our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. Separations and divorces will be on the dockets, while intimate relationships will have been forged. Having experienced days of uninterrupted peace, some of us will not go back to the workplace. We’ll opt for continuing to work from home, if possible, or look for other ways to pay the rent and put food on the table. Some of us are seeing the precariousness of our economic lives, whereby missing one paycheck plunges us into poverty. There will be those who will take advantage of this near global mandatory quarantine by turning the gaze inward, making connections between what is going on within and what is going on without. These are simply a few of the staggering number of responses to the pandemic-lesson in the curriculum whose goal is to return us to our true identity. There are no right or wrong responses. All lead to the awakening.
But be assured that this is a call to “awaken,” not a call to create a New Narrative for which awakening is the prerequisite.
“Anybody that lives in Presence predominantly contributes to a change in the world or what I call the New Earth.” Eckhart Tolle
Reflect for a moment, for there is nothing hidden here if we have a willingness to see. Life lived in the awareness of our true identity or in the awareness of a false identity yields two distinctively different experiences. Consciousness, or awareness, colors our total life experience. It is reflected in all of life’s transactions, in all our relationships, with people, the planet, and with non-human communities. What we create, what we do with our energy, as we move throughout our days, reflects our consciousness and can be used to gauge our progress through the curriculum.
Consciousness is reflected in how we eat, how we dress, how we care for our dwellings, our bodies. Our interactions with neighbors, family members, friends, and colleagues reflect our consciousness. The global response to a pandemic that has a less than 3.2% mortality rate reflects our collective consciousness. The global response to nearly 250,000 deaths monthly (80% children) caused by malnutrition and hunger reflects our collective consciousness.
How could this be the call to create the New Narrative when we are getting our first glimpses of the fear that is the foundation of the old narrative, a fear that has been hidden and now made observable as it paralyzes nearly all of the global human community? Fear is not an emotion that can generate a New Narrative and is inconsistent with our true identity. In its grip, we are and have been targets of its manipulation.
Fear, being degenerative, compromises the immune system. It is the cornerstone of anger, insecurity, judgment, greed and resentment. Those emotions, when expressed through a human physical form, can be seen terrorizing the planet, destroying human and non-human communities, rendering the air unbreathable and water undrinkable. Anything that we construct, at the post-pandemic, pre-awakening stage, will be nothing more than a restructuring of the old fear-based narrative, with us, again, as its willing host. We offer little resistance to fear’s pull because we have not, as of yet, established an intolerance for conflict, strife and suffering. We have not, as of this moment, as a global community, totally abandoned the old narrative and the false identity that carries out its directives.
“The purpose of this course is to return you to your true Self. This one change completely changes your life and the world.” Mari Perron, on A Course of Love
Finally, there is no doubt that the awareness of the effects that this pandemic is having on the human community serves to erode or, for some, further erode our faith in the old narrative: The revelations of the unequal attention or lack of concern with testing Black and Brown bodies for the presence of the virus produces anger and disappointment. It justifies previous accusations of rampant racism within the old story. The now heightened suspicions and widespread fears of germ warfare, mandatory vaccines, and, yes, the plot to depopulate the planet of people of color, all serve as evidence for our growing reluctance to continue to place faith in the old narrative. It is a reluctance that may spur many of us to examine the beliefs that hold the old story together.
But while accusations, judgments, blame, guilt, hatred, vengeance, anger, and rage are justified, welcomed, even encouraged by the old story, these toxic emotions place us in no position to create the New Narrative which requires a “sustained” awakened consciousness and an unquenchable thirst for peace, joy, and well-being.
There remains much to be done here. The Universe loves us as it does all of creation and is gifting us abundantly with some fertile lessons. Now is the time to remain steadfast in Presence, to receive and take heed of our lessons. We can continue to shelter in place, practice safe distance, and wash our hands. Maybe we can look forward to a drastically altered old narrative. But let’s hold off on those ideas to create a New Narrative. We’re not there yet.
Akilah – April 13, 2020, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Laurie Thompson, editor