For the first time in 20 years, tears poured out of me on the yoga mat this morning. It was a mixture of emotions post-election night. I cried for the children who went to school in fear today; fear of being bullied, sexually-harassed, or deported, and for their parents who have fear in their hearts too. I cried for the Earth, the water protectors at Standing Rock, and all of those who have dedicated their lives to caring for this planet. I cried for the millions of people who will lose health care. I cried for women and for girls as we face a conservative Supreme Court, the glass ceiling still intact. I cried for people of color who are feeling even more threatened by police and the “whitelash.” I cried for the LGBTQ community. The list goes on and spirals in on itself and back out and around again.
Yet, during all of this, a few other thoughts emerged. Earlier this morning, my sister and I were talking about how this may be all in Divine Order. Maybe the people who have been holding such fear, and hate and animosity over the last eight years could not take anymore. Maybe the universe is asking us to hold their grief and worry, and trusting that we will know how to transmute that fear into love. Not just for all the people I mentioned above, but for ALL the people, Trump supporters included. Maybe progressives will be motivated to stop accepting half-measures and tell the Democratic Party that drone strikes, preemptive war, watered-down health care, destructive trade agreements, continued investments in fossil fuels, agribusiness, and Corporatocracy rule is not acceptable. Maybe there has to be a breakdown to have a breakthrough.
And then I remembered a Tibetan Legend that my great teacher, Joanna Macy, passed on. It is called The Shambhala Warrior.
There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have arisen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always they move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.
Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors know they can do this because the weapons are “manomaya,” mind-made. This is very important to remember, Joanna. These weapons are made by the human mind. So they can be unmade by the human mind! The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on Earth do not come from evil deities or extraterrestrial powers. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now, the Shambhala warriors must go into training.
“How do they train?” I asked.
“They train in the use of two weapons.”
“The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary. We need this first one,” he said, lifting his right hand, “because it provides us the fuel, it moves us out to act on behalf of other beings. But by itself it can burn us out. So we need the second as well, which is insight into the dependent co-arising of all things. It lets us see that the battle is not between good people and bad people, for the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. We realize that we are interconnected, as in a web, and that each act with pure motivation affects the entire web, bringing consequences we cannot measure or even see.
“But insight alone,” he said, “can seem too cool to keep us going. So we need as well the heat of compassion, our openness to the world’s pain. Both weapons or tools are necessary to the Shambhala warrior.”
So let us walk into these uncertain times, armed with compassion and the insight into the radical interdependence of all life. We are still the ones we have been waiting for and we are needed now more than ever.