THE BLOG
10/21/2011 04:17 pm ET Updated Dec 21, 2011

Lessons to Learn From the Occupy Wall Street Movement

This past weekend, I was moved to tears of joy as I drove by and watched about 150 people with placards and signs in front of the library in the small town of Flagstaff, Ariz., just north of where I live. As a baby boomer, who participated in anti-war marches in Washington, D.C. in the '60s, I felt an instant kinship with the demonstrators and beeped my horn enthusiastically in support of the protest.

This crowd of all ages had come out to voice its anger at our society's tacit endorsement of greed. They were angry that big financial institutions had received billions and were now making billions more in profit, while we, the ordinary folk, were losing our jobs, homes and even our hope for a better future.

This outpouring was part of a movement gone global, in just a month, thanks to the power of the Internet. Yet, in this demonstration, I could also see some lessons we all need to learn for it to have any lasting impact -- lessons that not only shape this movement, but also each of us individually and as citizens of planet earth.

Be for What You Want as Opposed to Against What You Don't

The first lesson is that unless this movement finds something it is for it will probably tear itself apart from the inside or simply fade away. When we are anti anything in the world or in our lives, without realizing it, we are feeding life into the very thing we are trying to get rid of or are against. "What we resist persists" is not just a platitude; it is what happens in life. The anti-war movement of the '60s did not stop the war. The war went on much longer then it should have, resulting in our eventual rout and the loss of life for over 50,000 American soldiers.

If you look at your own experiences, you will probably see many examples of things that you fought against, both in your life and in your mind, that only persisted and very often became magnified.

The bottom line for the OWS movement and for each of us is to find what we can be for as opposed to just resisting and fighting against what we do not want. This takes conscious contrastive action towards achieving that goal.

It's Not Just About "Me"

The second lesson is a deeper one. We, as a planet and individually, have the unique opportunity to either find ways to evolve out of "it is all about me" and into more of a feeling of "we," or continue to fight and squander our dwindling resources until there is nothing left for any of us. Stretching past our feeling of "me against the world" may seem counter intuitive. This is because most of us are lost in identifying with feelings of being a limited, separate individual in a hostile world. However, if we can stretch, even a little, outside the box from which most of us live, we will discover that we can be free to have a super abundance. And there is more than enough for everyone.

When we stretch past the box of "me," we discover that there is a whole new world of possibilities that we do not even see when we are lost in the story of separation. This world is also remarkably free of personal suffering.

If you look at the world, especially at nature, you will see that there is an obvious underlying unity and interdependence that only we, humans, have chosen to ignore. Without noticing that there are consequences, we treat nature as if it were ours to dominate and exploit.

It Does Not Have to Be This Way!

No one is born feeling separate. If you have ever been around a very young child, you know what I mean. Through indoctrination by our parents and society, we learn to believe we are separate. This process takes about two years for most of us. The transition between this greater sense of unity at birth and believing in the separate "me" is so intense for both the child and the parent that it even has a name. It is called the "Terrible Two's." Once we buy into being separate most of us spend the rest of our lives building, defending and maintaining this illusion without ever checking to see if it is true.

Here are a couple of simple exercises you can do right now to rediscover the underlying unity:

Allow yourself to go out into nature, find a park, a tree -- even a house plant, if you live in an area more that appears more distant from nature. Then allow yourself to notice that your body appears to be separate from nature. Obviously, your skin appears to be where you end and outside your skin somewhere is where nature appears to begin.

Now let's stretch past the obvious. Instead of just trusting the concepts that we have assumed to be true, allow yourself to go a little deeper. With eyes open or closed, allowing your heart to lead (as opposed to your head) as best you can, ask yourself, "Where does nature end and I begin?" and "Where does I end and nature begin?" Go back and forth a few times, and you will begin to feel and possibly even see the absence of boundaries between you and nature. A whole new world will open up to you as you feel this underlying unity.

Another simple yet profound exercise is to check to see if you can even find the separate "me" that you assume you are. Most of us believe in our separate identity without ever checking to see if it is actually true.

You can use this simple question to explore this illusion of separation: "In this moment, if I do not go into memory, can I actually find a 'me'?" You may find thoughts, feelings and memories, however are they who you are or are you that which is aware of all of these, including the thought called "me"?

I have yet to have anyone who can actually find a "me" in this moment.

This may bring your mind to a complete stop, and you may discover that you are then resting as the presence of awareness that has always been right here and now. Or it may generate lots of thoughts and feelings. If this happens, simply repeat the question in this way: "In this moment, if I do not go into memory, can I actually find a 'me' that (is feeling or thinking ______ )?" You can also ask yourself, "Am I that, or am I that which is aware?"

If you answer these questions with your heart as opposed to your mind as best you can, it will help lead you into recognizing the underlying unity that you are.

Picture a world where more and more of us are working towards what we want as opposed to fighting against what we do not want. Imagine a world, too, where we love each other as ourselves and care for each other and nature as friends and family or even as our own reflection. This world is not only possible it is already being born into open hearts and minds across the planet. Are you ready to awaken to this next step in our evolution? If you are reading this, then I am sure you are.

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