Einstein may or may not have really said this but the meaning is clear. Unfortunately, we are stubborn creatures and the one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.
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What does it take to wake up to an important truth we’ve been ignoring?
During the climactic scene in the 1957 war film, Bridge on the River Kwai, Alex Guinness’s character has an epiphany. He stands in the middle of a firefight, takes off his hat, and says something like, “My God, what have I done?”
He awakens to the insanity of his own blinding arrogance. But it takes bullets and bombs to do it and he dies moments later (sorry for the spoiler, the film is still well worth seeing).
What will it take for humanity to awaken to the damage we’re causing with our stubborn refusal to align with universal consciousness and become agents for compassionate action on the planet? That’s impossible to answer. What we can answer is this: what will it take for you and me to awaken? It must get personal.
Sometimes it takes a baseball bat to the side of the head. Your doctor gives you bad news… so you finally change your lifestyle and diet. A spouse issues an ultimatum; a boss warns you’re close to the firing line. Sometimes it’s subtle but most often it’s dramatic, because we’ve lingered too long in our comfort zones—like that legendary frog who bathes in a pot of warm water as he gradually heats to the boiling point and dies. He could have leapt out at any time and saved himself. So can we; it’s a choice.
A friend told me a story the other day about two construction workers having lunch at the work site. One man opened his lunch bucket and said, “Cheese sandwiches. Always cheese sandwiches. I hate cheese sandwiches!
After this happened three days in a row, his buddy couldn’t restrain himself any longer and said, “If you don’t like cheese sandwiches, why don’t you ask your wife to make you something different for lunch?”
“Wife,” the other exclaimed, “what wife? I’m not married. I make my own sandwiches.”
We’re all making our own sandwiches, perpetuating results in our lives that originate in habits of thinking and behaving. We can complain about those results or we can choose to create different ones.
This applies particularly to our lust for retribution. We insist on punishing those who hurt us, as if that was a sane solution. But vengeance is never sane and it never accomplishes what is hoped for. Hate breeds more hate, just as love breeds more love.
The Buddha instructed, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
We can create resistance and suffering and conflict and then complain about it, or we can wake up and flow with what is truthfully happening in consciousness, to transform our experience and make a contribution to the world.
Consciousness doesn’t hold grudges. Consciousness is ever evolving, always expanding from a place of acceptance, with nothing excluded. That’s an amazing realization because we tend to exclude so much, like respect for an individual because of their political or religious beliefs. What would it take to be inclusive? Do we need a rude wake up call or are we open to a more gentle invitation?
When in doubt… meditate! Closing your eyes, going within, connecting with Source, listening to the still small voice inside… this is a strategy for survival in the modern world and a remedy to this problem. Tech advisors sometimes ask “Is the unit plugged in?” How about it; are you plugged in? Machines don’t work when they are not and neither do we.
Any moment can be the moment we wake up to our responsibility for being the causative force in our own lives, choosing in each moment to express love rather than hate, to bring what’s necessary rather than complain about what’s missing.
And, as I wrote in an earlier blog in this series, we awaken from seriousness. Consciousness is not serious. If we are, we can immediately know that we’re out of alignment. Does this suggest being indifferent to suffering? Not at all. But it does mean that we understand the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No. Something different is called for and each of us is in the perfect position, at the perfect moment in our lives, to provide it.
My favorite Einstein quote? “I didn’t say half the things people think I said.”
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