Transiting from Anxiety to Balance
The Power of Discrimination
(From a lecture at Brahma Kumaris, Buenos Aires, July 4, 2018)
Anxiety arises from a lifestyle where there is anguish and it is difficult to handle stress. Anxiety is connected with imbalance and occurs in environments that do not correspond to who and what you are in your essence. It arises in different ways for different people.
Children experience anxiety when there is violence in the home, and when their parents divorce. They experience anxiety when there is violence at their school. Students experience anxiety when graded in a way that makes them look bad. Many educators believe the system of exams is flawed because it neither proves nor disproves whether a student is intelligent or competent. Exams simply indicate whether or not a young person has been prepared to handle exams. This system of socialisation reveals that children are routinely trained and prepared to anticipate a life of pressure and varying degrees of violence. It also predisposes young people to rely on psychotropic drugs whether provided by the pharmaceutical industry through the health care system, or on the streets through illicit drug dealers. We have created a global social environment where most people are anxious most of the time. Anxiety is embedded in modern cultures and the levels are increasing as time goes by.
Anxiety is connected with over-population, the great problem of the modern world. Overpopulation has contributed to human driven climate change issues. The global economic system creates anxiety because it is antagonistic to human happiness. It is biased to benefit a few privileged ones and harm the many who are under privileged. People in general are progressively diminished in their personal spiritual power. Anxiety occurs within the human spirit as a response to what is occurring in the social and physical environment, and to being internally disempowered.
It is neither humanitarian nor realistic to euthanise half the population. Situations where large numbers of people die, have not resulted in a reduction of the population. For example, in the Second World War 80 million people were killed in six years. This is almost double the current population of Argentina, yet human population continues to increase exponentially. Ethnic cleansing and other efforts to remove or displace populations do not reduce the population.
Self-Empowerment in the face of Violations
Spiritual knowledge says that every person who dies also reincarnates. Following a violent death, the spirit reincarnates in a state of anxiety, because the soul carries the imprint of the experience. Individually, we can rarely influence external situations, but we can reinforce and empower the spirit within.
Anxiety is connected with how we think and feel. Confusion arises when we fail to use precise vocabulary to describe what we are feeling. Anxiety also depends on how we interpret external situations. We can strengthen the soul through meditation and cultivate various spiritual powers. A situation that triggers anxiety requires us to discern the subtle and hidden details and determine how and why the situation is causing anxiety. It could be a life situation of extreme change.
According to psychologists, the most stressful situation is to get married and the second most stressful is to get divorced. Getting forcibly displaced through war or climate change is even more stressful. These events change your circumstances dramatically, impacting financial and social responsibilities, and your sense of identity. They catapult you into unknown territory. This also happens when fired from your job, or you experience a sudden illness or accident. You had set up your life with the expectation of a certain income, then all of a sudden there is nothing. You suddenly find yourself with a debt that you cannot pay. Suddenly you are no longer in a high position, you are in no position. Your social identity is connected with your professional position.
Serious accidents can result in inability to return to work even after a long rehabilitation. It can take several months to recover from the injuries and, even if you can move around normally, you are no longer able to do that job. Your entire identity is affected, you no longer know who you are. You may think: I am the same person, yet the other people treat you differently. You may be a highly educated and competent person, yet suddenly you are in a situation where the people think you just imagined it and you are not really that. There are artists and intellectuals who are suddenly marginalised when the regime in their country changes. All of a sudden, your position is very ordinary or very low. This usually creates an internal reaction of anxiety.
You could be targeted by an enemy or competitor who is jealous of your competence and talent, and injures you physically or destroys your reputation through character assassination. You can do nothing to restore your reputation. You made no mistake, yet you have to deal with the resulting anxiety.
What spiritual powers are used to handle the situation? First evaluate the situation with precision. Experientially you would say: I am being ill-treated, and unjustly discriminated against. Look more deeply. OK, you are being mistreated, but why? Some wonder, what did I do to deserve this? Some think that such situations could not occur unless they did something bad to merit such punishment.
Detecting Devious Behaviour
Our culture declares that if you are good, then nothing bad can happen to you. It implies that if something bad is happening to you, then that must be correct. However, it may not be. It is possible that something bad happens to you that is not due to you having done something bad. If you discern the situation incorrectly you will also respond to it incorrectly. If something happens to you and you believe you deserve it, but you don’t deserve it, this will create anxiety and confusion. In that case the situation is not a karmic return but a test.
Discerning a violation where the perpetrator disguises it well, is subtle detective work. Those who attack you do it secretly because they do not want to get caught or exposed, and they wish to gain an unfair advantage. If they get caught they lose their advantage. You have to discern that their strategy is to avoid discovery and benefit from an unfair advantage, as well as by disadvantaging you. This is very common human behaviour. But our culture discourages analysis of such things, claiming this does not exist. Human behaviour is defined as simplistic. In reality, it is devious rather than simplistic. Many are clever at hiding unclean motivations and become expert in the art of intrigue. Do not expect the behaviour of competitors to be clean or according to your moral logic. Expecting people to be honest and clean is naïve. The social system is set up for victims and perpetrators. Perpetrators need victims. Victims experience anxiety. It is not necessary to be a victim. You must discern whether someone wants to victimise you and cut you down. First think, “I am OK. This is a subtle or disguised attack. The violation does not make me not OK.” Anxiety and confusion are greatly reduced when you change your thinking in this way.
In a situation of competition, anxiety is only one of your options. If someone is attacking you, create your defence. You need to discern all the many aspects of the situation so that you can see the exact nature of the field. You also need to discern many invisible aspects about yourself. First discern that the attack is not because you are weak or bad, but because you are very good and someone is jealous. Maybe everyone looks at you as bad, but you know inside that the reality is: I am good. It strengthens you to think: I am good. A person who is connected to God would also think that God can see that I am OK.
A culture where people believe that nothing bad can happen to you unless you first did something bad, would also believe that God is also part of that equation. In spiritual practice, the relationship with God is not like that of people in conventional religions. You make God your ally. God is capable, intelligent and strong. You are not alone.
The feeling of isolation creates a state of anxiety. Someone who targets you will also isolate you. They destroy your reputation so that the people around you dislike you and withdraw their support from you. This weakens you and increases your anxiety. Then you can say to yourself: OK everyone dislikes me, but God likes me, so I am OK. You need strong faith in yourself. The basis of your faith in yourself is that you know yourself and what kind of person you are. You do no action against your principles.
The people who target you want to break your spirit. It is up to you whether you allow it or not. If you are strong in your spirit, you will understand that no one can break your spirit unless you give them permission. They also try to corrupt you. They come along and say: Aha, I can help you. This is a traitor, and you must also discern treachery. Say: Thanks very much, but no thanks. Have a good day. God plus one, is a lot more powerful than another person minus God.
When you orient yourself this way and position your opponent with precision, you prevent anxiety from arising. Anxiety is a position you adopt in your mind. It depends on your thinking. This is subtle and can neither be proven nor disproven. If you know and believe in yourself and you have a connection with God, it changes the game.
In a state of anxiety, confusion gives way to the emotion of fear and mitigates against making good decisions. In a state of fear and anxiety you are less likely to make a decision that is favourable for you. Positioning yourself as good, with pure intention and supported by God, gives you distance from the situation, a broader overview, and more options are available for you. With courage, you can discern what action or strategy to adopt for the most favourable outcome.
You have to take a risk. When anxious, it is hard to take a risk. Create an attitude in your mind where you are ready to take a risk, you feel good about yourself and you take that step. You may succeed or fail, but if you are anxious you will not even try. If you are courageous and you try, and it succeeds that is good. If it fails, then you try something else. If you fail, you can analyse the details of what happened. Play it like a game of football or tennis. It is a competition that requires good strategy.
People in positions of power declare that competition is bad and discourage you from being competitive. This mentality is taught to people in weak positions to prevent them from asserting their rights. It is propaganda. Do not be deceived. Be competitive, there is nothing wrong or unspiritual about it. It would be unspiritual to cheat at the competition, but expect your opponents to cheat. Obviously, other people will cheat, but don’t be afraid of them cheating, otherwise you will get anxious. It does not matter if someone lies to you. It matters that you discern that they are lying. Then you are not deceived. Much depends on how you feel about yourself – be creative, and take courageous steps.
You can replace the word competition with competence. If you say competence that is considered very good. If you are competent you can cooperate, you have no issues.
In a marriage, if one is dominant and the other is dominated, the partnership will not endure. You need to be collaborative. The relationship must be made equal. For that you must achieve competence in maintaining the balance of both collaboration and competition. Our culture tries to make one party dominant and the other subservient. It is a power struggle that involves weakening and controlling the other party. Another way is to maintain a balance of power and thus live together effectively. It is political. You keep your self-respect, you command the respect of the other one. You respect the other one, and you can live together for a long time. Otherwise your life resembles a Tom and Jerry cartoon. It’s amusing but that is not how you want to live. It is very important to be competent to live well.
What arises in your mind depends on your perception, and on how you interpret what you perceive. You have more jurisdiction over what happens in your mind than you may believe. Your mind is fed by your sense perceptions, also by your subconscious. How you feel is dictated by the thoughts that arise. Within your consciousness you have the intellectual capacity to evaluate your thoughts and select which ones to act on. Most people have a certain amount of trauma, and this trauma resides in your subconscious. It engenders thoughts and drives how you feel. Because the origins are subconscious, you can neither identify why you feel or think this way, nor recognise where it comes from. In addition, your personality and character are created by acting in particular ways in certain situations over a long period of time. These patterns of character influence your thoughts.
Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is useful to know where you are weak. Your enemies will find out where you are weak and strike you there. They are unlikely to vanquish you if they strike you where you are strong. They will plan to win by striking you where you are weak. Have you thought about your relationship with your weaknesses? Some deceive themselves, thinking that by hiding their weaknesses, no one will notice them.
You frequently encounter people with ego problems, and have to deal with them. False ego is a mask that covers character weakness. They present their ego mask as something very strong, but it is just plastic. You can break it easily, but then they get angry. Weakness and violence are connected. People use violence because it is effective to control other people. We must not be afraid of their violence because behind it is weakness. If they threaten you and you don’t feel threatened, they are ineffective. This puts you in a more powerful position. If you don’t know your weaknesses and they do, then you are vulnerable.
Through spiritual practice, you learn that your relationship with your weaknesses needs to be neutral. If you think your weaknesses are bad, you will become anxious and even weaker. Any weakness you have is due to some valid cause, or injury to your psyche. When you go deeply into your weakness you can transform it into a strength. The process of transforming your weakness into a strength is part of spiritual practice. If you understand your weakness and reinforce yourself in that area, then your overall position is not bad. Your conclusion about yourself is positive and respectful to the self. When you face a situation of conflict, you enter into it strong, not weak. You feel good about yourself and you can take risks. If you face the risk of death it does not phase you because you consider yourself, your spirit, to be immortal. When you think you are a spirit you are not afraid of death. This changes your response and your attitude. If someone threatens to kill you, you can think: “Watch out because I will come and haunt you.” You play the game with a positive attitude of courage. You do not perceive your condition as a weakness. Your position may be weak, but you are strong. You have greater self-respect and you command the respect of others.
The Laws of Nature
People speak of the law of the jungle. Nature has its laws. There is a natural balance, and it includes violence. Animals must be vigilant always. Just recently we were in Paraiso, our retreat place near Buenos Aires. There are many owls. This is the season when they get their young. The owl can rotate its head all round. Very few creatures can do that. In nature, there is always someone looking at you as lunch. You have to watch out for predators. It is normal for there to be predators.
Humans have propagated the idea that there should not be any predators. To deal with the reality that there are human predators, some are criminalised and others are legitimised. Usually the weaker ones are criminalised and the stronger ones are legitimised. This is an incoherent way to handle society. We are in trouble because we do not understand the natural laws. Violence in modern humans is often gratuitous, which puts us outside the law of the jungle.
They look at it differently in traditional societies. For example, I spent a little time with the people of the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. They live with lions and other dangerous creatures. A lioness is a strong, fast predator with big teeth and big claws.
Humans are traditionally considered the stewards of the earth. In primitive societies, to assert their superiority, they must be knowledgeable and skilful. The environment is hostile and you will only survive if you truly understand, love and respect the environment. You must understand the law of the jungle, which is merciless. I have a friend who is initiated as an aboriginal in Australia. He knows how to swim through a river full of crocodiles and not get eaten, but there is a risk at every second. He described his training to me. It is a very good training for any kind of human situation. In conventional modern cultures, you get no training on how to handle human crocodiles.
Flawed moral philosophy
By declaring that modern humans are by nature non-predatory, and disguising the reality by legitimising the big predators and criminalising the small ones, the dominant culture of the modern world has created a flawed moral and legal philosophy. This is because the concept and definition of a human being is erroneous.
The social rules we have created have led us to our social problems. The root causes of anxiety lie in our definitions of what a human being is and the consequent social rules. We need to re-think our moral and legal philosophy. This is a big challenge and a lot of work. In the face of such a huge problem when people ask what is the answer, generally we will say, “well, God knows.” When we say God knows, we mean no one knows. And we do not expect to find a solution.
If God knows then perhaps we would also want to know what God knows. Knowing that information would be very convenient. At least we could evaluate it and experiment with it. We could evaluate what happens when it is applied, and if it looks effective then we could use it. Compare two definitions of a human being. Consider us as spiritual beings functioning through physical forms governed by the laws of spirituality on one hand. On the other hand, consider us as physical forms operating according to the laws of physics. Human generated moral laws were devised to address social problems; however, these have ultimately failed us. The implications and consequences of the second option are the intractable problems we face in the world today.