– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.21 –
Developing The State Of Mind Needed To Become An Effective Elder
Ethics demands that humanity develop a state of consciousness that is energetically higher than ordinary and, therefore, enables the people of the world to perceive and respond to the plight of the planet. We need, for example, to be able to do what Thick Nhat Hanh says we ought to do: “to hear within ourselves the sounds of the earth crying” (George, 1995, p.16). We also need to reverse, in the words of the Dalai Lama, “the gradual breakdown of the fragile ecosystems that support us” (George, 1995, p.16).
Without such a collective purpose to deepen our consciousness, humanity will end up “tinkering with symptoms endlessly” (George, 1995, p.21). Unless we develop a higher collective consciousness, humanity will focus too much on technological solutions because it will not be able perceive that technology is part of the problem. We need a spawning of a wide and deep interest in inner personal work because it is within the inner world of humans––the birthplace of greed, addiction, and confusion––that our outer planetary problems begin.
Writes George: “If the earth is as it is because we are as we are, then nothing less than the transformation of human beings on this planet will begin to correct (the ecological problem)” (George, 1995, p.21). “Until this distorted dream of a technological paradise,” writes George, “is replaced by a more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an integral Earth Community, no effective healing will take place, for the dream drives the action. In the larger cultural context the dream becomes the myth that both guides and drives the action” (1995, p.160).
Important as a viable dream is, equally important is a rarely used but well known and respected approach to the seeking of higher consciousness. That important technique is living often in the present. Being in the present is sometimes referred to as experiencing “flow” –– a psychological state that allows one to ignore hunger, discomfort, and fatigue as one seems to flow along in an engrossing experience. This “complete absorption in what one does” as Mihaly Csikszentmilhali is quoted to say (Lyubomirsky, 2007, p. 181), is fulfilling, pleasurable, and “provides a natural high that, unlike artificial highs or pure hedonistic pleasures, is a positive, productive, and controllable experience that does not cause guilt, shame, or other damage to self or the society at large” (2007, p. 182).
Given the benefits of experiencing flow, it is acceptable to set your goals high, as long as you enjoy the struggle of achieving them. The next activity will help you enter into this beneficial state of “flow.” Keep the techniques in mind as you read about the origin of the Heartwood Path. I unwittingly entered into this state of flow frequently during years I spent researching, writing, and experiencing the activities presented here.
The Heartwood Path stands as a testament to the benefits of flow. Here’s how to increase some for yourself: