Be in the world, but not of the world.

Apr 09, 2020

Be in the world, but not of the world.

I’ve always appreciated the phrase - “Be in the world, but not of the world.” These times seem made for this instruction.  Let me share how I see it operating now. 

If you’re like me, your weeks are a mixed bag of emotional states.  Often, I feel quite good - happy, energized, and truly curious about it all. I’m most curious about the fact that everywhere in the world is going through this same crisis, this same experience, at the same time!  What a creation! 

I think there’s an expectation that I shouldn’t feel as good as I often do – “There’s a pandemic going on, for God’s sake!  There’s no reason to feel good” - but oddly, I often do. There’s so much to be grateful for, so much goodness happening, even in the midst of it all!

Being In the World

I also have times of anxiety, dread - all related to the future - what’s going to happen? How long will this last?  What will the world be like when it’s over?  When I reign that anxious energy in, because there are no solid, reliable answers, I land back in the present moment.  The present moment is almost always okay or even better than okay – it’s good!

And everyday life is peppered with the usual minor blips of problem-solving – Zoom links that don’t work, an e-mail account that momentarily goes on the fritz, figuring out how I’ll get what I need to start the garden. 

That’s my daily, very human dance. That’s the “being in the world” part!

But Not of the World

But where do I find my deeper ground?  For this, I need the “but not of the world.”  When I tune into a higher consciousness, I know this pandemic is happening for a reason - we don’t like it, but, and I don’t exactly know for what reason - that’s to be revealed.  But I know it holds the potential for more goodness and positive change.

Crisis is meant to shake loose what no longer serves us; to disrupt old patterns that we’ve clung to, but are no longer life-affirming.  I already see some of that shift happening in me and around me.  I know we often only grow and change through times of crisis - sadly, that’s still our human default way, and it does work if we choose to open to a crisis in this way. 

Even the loss that has already happened and the greater loss that is to come will bring new life.  Here we are in the season of spring - the plants and trees beginning to send out buds.  We are in a prime crucible of the life, death, rebirth cycle.

There are things we can and need to do to “be in the world” right now.  But the ego-self is not ultimately in charge here.  We pause, we accept the imposed restrictions, we accept the losses. From a higher, wider awareness, this disruption is bringing into being a new world.  We have influence in that, but what will come is not “of this world.” 

Recently a friend shared a wisdom teaching that offers a powerful visual:

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. 

We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”  Susanna Arundhati Roy


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