Mindful Musings

Our Collective Moment of Awakening Has Arrived

By: Forrest Rivers

(Originally published on the mindfulword.org)

Amid all the fearful media coverage and chaos surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic lies a hidden truth that is just beginning to come to light: from a spiritual perspective, the current health crisis is something of a collective blessing in disguise.

Let me explain. While the world has been hit hard with both existential and economic catastrophes, something beautiful beneath the surface has emerged… unity and compassion.

Exposing societal injustice


Statue head covered in bandages

On the surface, it might appear that mounting death tolls (particularly, among the elderly and those with per-existing conditions) and runaway unemployment have, so far, defined the narrative of this virus’s fallout.

However, what has not been adequately accounted for by the media is the fact that this ordeal has pulled us all closer together. For the first time since possibly the Second World War, the whole of humanity has been forced to confront the painful truth that ignorance, intolerance, hate and greed wind up producing terrible effects for all inhabitants of this glorious planet.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed societal injustices that have many re-questioning the values that are guiding humanity. For example, in countries like America, the health crisis has made it crystal-clear that the needs of living, breathing people should be placed before the profit of a wealthy few.

Basic social benefits that most industrialized nations enjoy, like comprehensive paid sick leave and universal health care, have long been absent in the United States. This is due to the fact that the U.S. government has long prioritized the political and economic interests of corporations over the well-being of its own citizens.

Gratefully, all of this is starting to change. In only one month (since the outbreak of the virus in North America), the number of ordinary Americans and politicians demanding the implementation of both programs has increased.

It now seems more likely than ever that paid sick leave and universal health care will become permanent fixtures in the U.S. system, long after the crisis ends. This is a positive move in the direction of a kinder and gentler society.

Caring for others


penguin feeding chick

There is further evidence of our globe’s growing unity and compassion in response to the crisis

It has been widely reported that numerous retired doctors and nurses in the United States, Canada and Europe have been coming out of retirement to courageously put their lives at risk in service of their fellow brethren. Clearly, many medical professionals are taking their Hippocratic Oath seriously. Thank you to those brave souls.

In several U.S. and Canadian cities, such as Vancouver, B.C. and Portland, Oregon, groups of private citizens have even begun organizing to provide health care and shelter to the homeless in response to the pandemic.

Portland’s Jupiter Hotel has gotten in on the act of caring for this highly marginalized group by donating several of its rooms for the homeless to self-quarantine in. Numerous reports have also begun to surface, in both the mainstream and alternative presses, that donations to local food banks and pantries have seen substantial increases since the start of government-mandated shutdowns of businesses.

This is encouraging news that sparks the hope that we may soon shift from a mindset of ‘consumer hoarding’ of essential foodstuffs and supplies to that of giving what we don’t need in this time of mass suffering. As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is inevitable that further inspiring acts of love and kindness will be on display for us all to point to and say, “See, there are signs that we are growing in our loving awareness.”

The Hindus have long believed that the entire Cosmos moves in a perpetual cycle between dark ages (those defined by ego, discord, quarrel and contention) and ages of enlightenment in which spirit, unity, compassion and faith in our divine nature prevail.

It is entirely possible that we are in the initial stages of a planetary shift in consciousness, from such a dark age to one of enlightenment. (The Hindus believe we are still in a dark age that they call the Kali Yuga, although the approximate start and end date of this era are debated by Hindu scholars.) If this is so, the current health crisis is not some cruel twist of fate or a cosmic ‘hiccup,’ but it has karmically appeared to jolt us out of our egotism and heartless complacency.

Despite the huge and tragic loss of life left in its wake, COVID-19 may well become regarded as one of our light posts on the path of a collective awakening. Perhaps, the age of enlightenment that Hindus allude to is just around the corner. All we have to do is awaken enough to recognize the signs.

 

 

Mindful Musings

THE POWER OF THE MANTRA

For 13 years, a great monk prayed, meditated and fasted in the mountains in order to see more clearly into the nature of things. One morning, this wise man decided to climb a high peak, where it was believed that great spiritual power dwelled. The monk filled his canteen full of water and ascended the five labourious miles (about eight kilometres), barefoot, to the mountaintop’s 13,000-foot (or approximately 3962-metre) summit.Upon arrival, he soaked in the transcendent beauty of the streams and valleys below. Tears rolled down his face as he felt the spirit of the mountain rush through him. Overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude, the monk dropped to his knees in exaltation and paid reverence to the Earth.After a few moments of deep contemplation upon the wonder of it all, the monk jumped to his feet and was immediately struck by what he saw. Standing there before him was the most beautiful, radiant woman he’d ever seen. She was tall and slender, with skin that seemed to glow in the afternoon’s high-altitude sun.The woman smiled warmly, and then seductively motioned for the monk to walk the 10 paces to where she stood, running her fingers through her long, flowing dark hair. The entranced monk stared at the woman for a long moment, and felt the desires of years past pulsate through his being with the intensity of deep ocean currents.To still his mind, the monk began reciting the vows that he’d made when he joined the monastic order. Of course, celibacy was one of those vows. He then began repeating the following mantra in his head:

“Desire breeds attachment
Attachment breeds suffering
Suffering breeds delusion
of who we truly are.”

As the monk continued to repeat his mantra, he felt the torrent of desire gradually fall away. The deluge of deep ocean currents was being transformed into nothing more than passing waves on a sea of change.

With an even more inviting smile, the mysterious woman motioned once more for the monk to approach her. The holy sage took two steps forward in her direction, and then bowed and said:

“My fellow soul traveller, it’s a great honour to be in your presence upon this mountaintop of bliss and wonder. It’s twice the honour that you’ve welcomed me with such a warm smile and kind spirit. But it’s spiritual wealth, nothing of the physical, that I seek upon this rarefied peak of truth.

“The Indwelling One commands that my mind surrender to IT’s pursuit of the highest kind of knowledge. Now, I must wish you farewell and much fortune on your journey.”

The monk then bowed to the woman one last time, and turned to walk back down the mountain. However, just before he took his first descending steps, the mysterious woman transformed into the brilliant colours of a rainbow and then vanished into the heavens.

In awe, the monk looked up at the sky, and saw a glorious double rainbow form out of the mist above the dazzling blue mountains.

The noble monk attained his spiritual power and went on to inspire and teach many disciples for 50 years, until he dropped his body to complete his cycle of birth and death.

****Originally published on the mindfulword.org

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings. He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com.

An Ode to One

An Ode to One

One day, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Turned to IT’s beloved disciple, the Great Seer, and asked:
“Is it clear not to all who meditate upon me
That I am called by many different names?”
To which the Great Seer replied:
“Why, of course, Noble One!
To some, you are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Yet, others would know you as the Supreme Controller,
The Sublime Originator and the Eternal One—
Still, others would say you are the Divine Mother
Or the Wise Knower….”
Satisfied with the Great Seer’s response
The Cosmic Godhead inquired of IT’s loyal disciple once more:
“And is it clear not, dear seeker of Incomparable faith and devotion
That I, too, assume many different forms and appearances
For those tuned in to my form transcending essence?”
“That is indeed so, Oh Master Sculptor and Grand Architect
Of ALL planes of luminous awareness,
You are the sunrise at dawn and the sunset at dusk
The rain and lightning of an afternoon storm
And the majestic rainbow that appears to awe all those blessed
To view your breathtaking beauty….
You are the lush green forests teeming with life drawn
From the eternal fountainhead of divine knowledge.”
Beaming with delight
The Omnipresent Source transformed IT’s body
Of radiant orange light
Into wondrous Blue Mountains and replied:
“Great Seer, Noble Companion and Inner Voice of Timeless Odes to Love
Join me as the dirt-laden trails that guide aspiring seekers in pilgrimage
To my hallowed peaks of awakening.”
The Great Seer bowed before the enormous blue altars
And was instantly transformed
Into the rich soiled paths for all beings to travel
In their quests to achieve
Enlightenment upon the mountaintop!

Originally published on the Mindfulword.org

                    Mountain Heaven

By: Forrest Rivers (originally published by the themindfulword.org)


Sunset at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It was a beautiful day outside. The birds were singing, the sun was shining brightly and a cool autumn breeze swept across the countryside

I was hiking with my dear friend Jamie, back down the forested service road 316, a gorgeous trail in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’d walked about six miles (about 9.6 kilometres) and were 20 minutes from my car when the Divine fully presented itself.

We’d stopped to smoke a bit of herb and to reflect on our inspiring journey. To commemorate the moment, I expressed to Jamie that I wished to recite a few prayers I’d compiled over the past week.

The collection included sacred Buddhist, Sioux Indian, Hindu, Sufi and Christian invocations to the Absolute. I opened my journal and began to read the first lines from the Buddhist-Loving Kindness selection:

“May all beings be free from danger
May all beings be free from mental suffering…”

At the exact moment I recited these lines, a pack of wolves began howling in unison with the prayer. The tone of their soulful expressions was both haunting and awesome. The hairs on our necks stood at full attention. It felt as though the wolves were inside our souls, playing their heart-stringed instruments.

Because it was nearing sunset, I immediately placed my beloved canine companion, Abbie, on leash and finished reciting the Buddhist prayer. I then listened … mesmerized. After a minute or two, the primal sounds of howling stopped.

Jamie and I glanced at one another in silent recognition of this divine moment. Chills went down our spines, as it became evident to us that the Infinite was speaking through the wolves.

What were these loyal beings trying to convey? Oneness. Unity. Stillness. Sacred Earth Connection.

As we continued our walk back down to the car, the energy of the forest felt particularly heightened and pure. Soon, the glorious sun began to set over majestic blue mountains and I knew deep within that my home was heaven on Earth.