"We have art lest we perish of the truth." -- Nietzsche
A few months ago my dear friend Agapi Stassinopoulos invited me to a screening of Decoding Deepak, and during the Q&A Deepak Chopra humbly announced the manner in which he sees his vocation. "I'm part of the transition team," he said.
If you are reading blogs on The Huffington Post, then you are probably part of Team Transition too.
As part of Team Transition, my calling, as I see it, is analogous to helping fish try to see the ocean. I help people get their minds to observe their minds, help people spontaneously update their mental software, help people see light as a particle and a wave, guide people to unite their bodies with their minds and spirits, help people see that their ways of being in the world and their perspectives may have unintended ramifications, namely negative mental states that could lead to depression and anxiety. In argot, we say, "If you always did what you've always done you'll always get what you've always gotten." But Einstein put it more eloquently when he stated that, "The consciousness that created the problem will be unable to solve it."
Want some reframing? Want a fresh perspective? Want to debug your mental software?
My office is down the hall.
Abraham Maslow said, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem resembles a nail." Many clients walk into my office for the first time carrying sledge hammers and jack hammers; they don't even know what screwdrivers or pliers look like.
After a new client explains what brought him or her to me, here is how I often begin my side of the conversation: As sentient beings we yearn to be loved unconditionally, and we grew up in a society that gave us tools to impress people -- Ivy League! Three graduate degrees! Awesome zip code! Christmas in St. Barthes! Academy Award! Massive net worth! Very impressive! -- and gain love conditionally. Psychologically, our society is akin to a giant resentment factory. It produces resentment because we are (unwittingly) continuously tricking people into loving us and then resenting them for not loving the authentic yet sometimes unseemly selves that we conveniently choose not to reveal out of fear of being vulnerable or fear of being judged, which often manifests as a fear of intimacy but ultimately resolves to a fear of abandonment.
I refer you to Alice Miller's Drama of the Gifted Child if you want to learn more about how the very defense mechanisms and compensations that we assimilated to emotionally survive our childhoods later in life can contribute to unhappiness and a lack of a sense of meaning, purpose.
The Buddha's mandate was to try to end suffering. My goal as part of Team Transition is much less lofty: to share tools that help people cultivate ease, harmony, peace, love and understanding.
I love the Zen koan "If you meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him," which to me means that we all have to find our own truths, follow our own paths, and that we have to stop looking outside of ourselves for any reprieve from the madness. Happiness, it turns out, is an inside job.
If you are part of Team Transition, then you are probably already doing your share to cut your own path while also helping make the shift toward a planet without colonialism, oligarchy, oppression, corruption, war, racism, sexism, homophobia, scarcity, and many other obnoxious traits of humanity that will clearly fall on the wrong side of history as we evolve as a species -- maybe with some bangs, but hopefully with just a few whimpers.
And if you have no idea what I mean by Team Transition but want to learn, I'm facilitating a retreat called Cultivating Meaning and Happiness through Mindfulness and Yoga at the Esalen Institute in a few weeks and would love for you to join us.