The Way Out Is In

The Guest House – Jalaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
They may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The Way Out – Is In

This exquisitely elegant axiom of Thich Nhat Hahn is profound in its simplicity. In light of this coronavirus crisis, it takes on a prophetic dimension.

We are now, all 7 billion of us, in a retreat. We are pushed to reflection, to examining the visions, values, hopes, and fears that determine our actions and experience. Have we ever had such an opportunity before? I think it is important to ask ourselves what went wrong, and also to reflect on who or what has some fault. Yet, I believe that healing and creative transformation are better served by exploring our dreams. Our dreams and the stories we create to express them have creative power. They shape our world. We must understand that even those things we want to change, the things we feel are obstacles, and oppress us, have their roots in dreams, in the stories we tell ourselves and tell the world.

Consider this, the original meaning of the magic word Abracadabra is “I create what I speak.” If we are dreaming of scarcity and fear, we will create situations of lack, competition for resources, and fear of not having enough. And from this dream come all the forms of domination, seeking power, control,  and the violence it takes to hold to such attempts. All of this rooted in these fearful dreams. If we look at the world and the injustices we see, it becomes clear that they are rooted in this kind of thinking, this kind of dreaming.

 The enigma of dreaming, the mystery of our capacity to find and create meaning, to find and receive purpose and inspiration in dreams and intuitions, our ability to imagine and envision ways of living, and our talent to interpret the meaning of all aspects of our experience, is truly awesome. Awesome, in both senses of the word, as something wondrous and as something inspiring of fear. The power of stories to shape our lives is as mighty as it is mysterious.

The way out is in, and this other powerful notion that the obstacle is the way, are teachings that we can now verify collectively. This situation caused by coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to go inside. The question is, do we perceive this quarantine as an emergency lockdown disaster, a forced retreat, a totalitarian coup d’etat or a challenge and possible healing? This situation is causing an unprecedented global confrontation with our inner and outer experience. We are obliged to explore what Arnold Mindell (founder of Process Oriented Psychology) has called Dreamland. Processwork has integrated teachings that can be found in many traditions of self-development and self-knowledge. It considers disturbing or threatening symptoms as starting points for the initiation of processes leading to deeper understanding, healing, and resolution of adverse conditions or conflict. “Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.” This quote of Nonviolent Communication creator Marshall Rosenberg, also points out that what appears as an adversary can be welcomed as a messenger of some greater understanding and freedom.

Dreamland is the world of our emotions, values, fears, hopes, beliefs, ideals, in short, our subjective reality, our psychology. This situation is giving humanity a singular opportunity to ask essential questions about our lifestyles and our socio-economic and political systems. The opportunity here is to discover what is wanting to be born and then find the individual and collective courage, focus, and organization to bring the dream into everyday reality.

This is the opportunity before us: if our “old” world seemed crazy, let us not desire to return to that “madness” we called “normality.” A society rooted in myths of scarcity, separateness, and competition. Creating a world of anxiety, stress, fear, hostility, and mistrust. Let us instead dream wonderfully and remember Ruby Tuesday: “Lose your dreams, and you will lose your mind.”