“The recognition of not-understanding is the opening to understanding.” Revelations of Mind, p219
It seems that we all search for a place in the world where we hope to be fulfilled. And when that place doesn’t seem to exist, hope can slip away. Then we may be open to the promises of people who sound like they understand us and who offer to act on our behalf.
In times of societal stagnation, when enough people feel bitter and alienated, a ground swell of support can arise for someone who strikes the rest of us as unattractive. As with a young man’s first infatuation, the chosen may seem quite ordinary to anyone who is comfortably settled in “the way things are”.
In the 1970’s, there was a time when I despaired that anything could ever change for me. Worse, I had stopped believing in my dreams. When I considered changing, moving, trying something new, an image of the world arose in which I saw no tolerable place for myself, anywhere.
This conviction burrowed so deeply into my psyche that one day I experienced a (paradoxical) break-through. I saw that I was clinging to a version of reality so dismal that there would be no real loss in letting it go. I saw that I was holding onto an imagined life raft that wasn’t keeping me afloat, and that I might as well try swimming out into the storm.
I wonder if this is how Trump’s supporters feel: that they have opted for an unknown future in place of a known one in which they were drowning.
I can empathize with that feeling, having experienced a form of it myself. In my case, recognizing that the patterns of my past subjected me to a joyless regime, I was driven to look at what was right in front of me. And when I dared to jump into the unknown, I felt a freedom spread through me as if I had stepped out of a prison cell into the sunlight.
Then it was in my own hands to allow this realization of openness to unfold—sometimes in fear, sometimes through new beginnings–but never again have I felt that my own dreams mean nothing.
Could this be what awaits people who voted for Trump? Is it possible that electing a new leader will open opportunities and help launch individual lives in new directions—leaving behind the careless inertias that have rendered our political theater a channel for tedious reruns?
One can hope. (And the stock market hit record highs yesterday.) However, I don’t see the presence of a quality that I believe was crucial in my life.
For me it was important that (personally, privately, individually) I was not only on the edge of a past that had run its course but that I found myself facing a doorway before which I stood shaking with fear. I was called upon to leave behind an obsolete way of living, but first I had to glimpse a future alive with the dark, forbidding shapes of the unknown.
Without this personal, private investment of mind and heart in prospects that remain unformed, it is doubtful that we human beings are able to step outside our prison cells and discover that their doors were unlocked all along.
And I’m not sure that anyone else can do that for us.