Hello to readers everywhere!
My apologies for the brevity of last week’s column. I had what I lovingly refer to as a bad case of Trump-itis: The flu combined with a deep descent into existential angst — you know, when everything hurts, even the soul and especially the spirit…and you know the remedy for what aches cannot be bought because there is no quick fix for soul sickness. The good news is that the physical illness didn’t last too long. But the combined effect did make last week a hard time to wax poetic about our free-will choices.
Trump-itis, however, is a far more powerful illness than the flu because it is absolutely toxic, infecting mind, heart and soul, and it is particularly pernicious for those who care about fellow travelers of every ilk and the well-being of our planet. There are many, many actions to take to protest, resist and ultimately neutralize the negativity of the new regime, but it is also important to remedy and fortify the spirit so that as the I-Ching advises in Hexagram 43, Breakthrough, each of us has the stamina and strength to fight evil by making energetic progress in the good.
I come from a lineage of revolutionaries. My grandfather was part of the IRA. My father was blacklisted, and when I was young we were chased by the FBI. For me, it was just a fact of my life that you could be persecuted for your ideas. Socialism/Communism for my parents was not Totalitarianism — it was simply the altruistic ideology of their day, the ideology that came closest to compassion for their fellow beings. (Yes…there are arguments about this, but that’s how my family saw it.)
As each of us inherits our physical DNA from our parents, we also inherit our karmic DNA — the patterns that define us, good and bad, and the patterns we repeat, positive and negative. (One need only look at alcoholic family systems to see this in action.) Revolution was my karmic inheritance — changing the world and making it a better place for everyone was what I was taught. But I also inherited a shadow of that altruism, a shadow that asks, “How is change possible in a world where so many inhabitants don’t recognize our inherent interrelatedness?” My father’s heart was broken when his revolution failed; he had many heart attacks, big and little. And as I witnessed his despair I promised myself to find a solution to my own heartbreak, as I also witnessed the revolution of the Sixties failing to occur as my idealistic heart thought it should. I have spent all of my adult life trying to find positive ways of sustaining hope. Transformation has been the key to that journey, a journey that has found its expression through a spiritual life.
But a spiritual life is only powerful when it is integrated into action and that takes a devotion to something greater than one’s self, coupled with a determination to live according to higher principles. Living according to those principles takes a different form for each of us, but one awareness unites a myriad of paths: We are all in this together. We are not separate from each other. And if we are one with everything, that means we…are…one…with…everything, even the things we hate.
From my Buddhist perspective, this is the meaning of compassion: I am that too. Like everyone, I have the potential to be what I despise, and because I recognize that potential in myself, I can find a way to make contact with my enemy. Compassion is not about forgiveness or permission. It’s about acknowledging that separation is an illusion and that we are a part of each other, whether we like it or not. And that includes the bad parts.
But that understanding wasn’t healing my Trump-itis, and as I witnessed his egregious behavior and blatant evil — his delight in ignorance and cruelty — the idea that I somehow share his narcissism and grandiosity was horrifying.
And then I had a dream. In the dream, I was held prisoner by an old boss, who was just an awful human being. In the dream, he was holding me captive in a glass cell in the basement. I could see him, but I couldn’t escape. When I woke and started analyzing the dream, I realized that this old boss was an iteration of Trump. He was rich, successful, the same age, misogynic, narcissistic, paranoid, and powerful — a dreadful combination, as we are witnessing with every passing moment.
Yet the dream was the antidote for my Trump-itis. It set me free. It was the deepest part of my psyche speaking to me: You know this demon, and now he is named Trump. You worked for him once and you quit. But he is a part of your unconscious. You see him clearly through the glass walls of your prison. But now you need to take action to break free so you can free yourself from the fear he incites through his torture. Most importantly, you must free yourself from the despair and nihilism that he feeds and thrives on because his toxicity generates a sense of meaninglessness, the same meaninglessness that infected your father’s heart. Do not be held hostage to hopelessness. It doesn’t need to infect your heart because you can see this demon through the clear walls of your prison — he is not a mystery and he is not aberrant. Each of us has the power to be the lineage breaker of our karmic DNA. Take that power. Don’t let your heart break.
Meaninglessness is a consequence of separation, and those who know we are interconnected need to stand in the truth of that interconnectedness and face our shadows through whatever method works. (And if you’re new to facing your shadows, investigate what that means.) Some have said that Trump is something more than a shadow — a great beast of the collective unconscious. Maybe…but if I am true to my heart, no beast of the collective is going to deter me from my path, a path that wants all beings on this planet to be free from suffering.
My dream also unites me with those who voted for him, and as hard as that is to swallow, that’s the next phase of deep work. I am related to every woman who is still trapped by abuse and the self-hatred and negation that is the result of that abuse. I am related to every person who feels left behind by the glamour of a society that worships at the altar of celebrity. I am connected to every person who feels the limitations of their ignorance but doesn’t know what to do about it, feels the scorn and judgment of others, feels the fear that they will be ignored, and feels the prejudice generated by the anger of being left out, and by the prejudice and polarity of the victim/victimizer struggle.
Being true to my heart means being true to my revolutionary roots. I will take whatever non-violent action I can to resist the pernicious effects of Trump, but I will not succumb to Trump-itis — not anymore. I will not allow myself to be slimed by the Cheetos version of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters — although I will take him and his agenda quite seriously. There are no meaningless efforts when those efforts are motivated by love. Along the red thread of my lineage, love is the true revolution.
But making this revolution of the heart effective also means continuing to protest and resist — to continue saying “no” to what we know is wrong. An internal revolution united with an external revolution is the path to evolution. Many of us have had this revolution of the heart, but many more hearts need to open — and that’s part of the work.
Here’s the astrology for the week:
The planets continue to feed that revolutionary spirit. The Moon, in Aries, once again activates the already unsettling Jupiter/Uranus opposition. The Moon symbolizes the emotional body. Jupiter signifies excess. Uranus is the Che Guevara of the sky, instigating and provoking revolution where it is needed. Oppositions represents tension, and the combined effect of this astral bundle manifests as an intensification of the need for personal freedom. As mentioned in previous columns, the seesaw effect of the Jupiter/Uranus opposition lasts until March 3, when we experience the second exact contact, which will include Mars, archetype of the warrior, conjunct Uranus. (More about that as the time approaches.) This ongoing opposition is at the root of so many of the recent extremes, both individual and collective. Jupiter begins its retrograde phase on Monday, February 6, that lasts until June 9. As Jupiter revisits its recent path, it will trigger even more sudden and surprising plot twists — reversals of fortune are one of the signatures for this Jupiter/Uranus opposition, so be prepared.
February is also a month of two eclipses: There is a Lunar Eclipse on February 11 and a Solar Eclipse on February 26. Eclipses always reveal what has been previously hidden and their effect is often felt six weeks before and after the actual event. Again, it would be wise to be prepared for startling developments — although you don’t need an astrologer to tell you that!
As you work your way through this brave new world, do your best to strengthen your spirit, and when possible help those less experienced find their spiritual strength as well. And remember, even though it doesn’t look like it, we are winning. There are far more of us who know that love is actually the answer, and those who do are working hard to make that knowing a reality.