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Brussels, Friday, April 27, 2007

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Choose Peace
by Judith Gayle

As you read this, Mars in Pisces is edging up to share degrees with Uranus. Anything pinging off of Uranus is something to keep our eye on, and since it's Mars we're talking about, and since it will move on quickly to square Jupiter two days later, I've been mulling the possibilities. In a perfect world, planets of this nature facing off in water would only result in a high-spirited and enthusiastic water balloon fight...ahhh, but it's not so perfect here, lately. Not even very civil. 

April has earned her reputation as "cruelest month" this year, hosting an explosion of violence in Iraq, including the highest body count so far this year -- and it’s not May yet. We've witnessed the implosion of individual minds giving us the Virginia Tech slayings, followed just days later by a disgruntled employee killing a hostage and committing suicide at NASA's Johnson Space Center. How could it get worse, you wonder? How indeed!

We're scratchy these days -- I use the word to represent a general psychic oversensitivity that only needs a prod or two to take us over the edge. Everyone seems poised on a rant, a meltdown, a tantrum...or a good cry, whichever comes first. This is a questionable time for Uranus to pull a few surprises or for Jupiter to make that bigger and louder than expected -- we'd be better off hunkering down with a pile of CDs or DVDs, a soothing pot of herbal tea at the ready, the cat cozy in our lap. But since we've got what we've got, I thought I'd give you a few hints on how to work with the kinds of relationship skirmishes  this kind of energy promotes. Perhaps we can get through the days ahead, unscathed.

First, remember that it takes two to tango -- a colossal head-banging battle of words cannot happen in a void. Course in Miracles gives us this affirmation: You can be right or you can be happy.  Loosely, that means that we can insist on our point, make it an absolute, issue it like a decree and shove it down someone's throat -- or we can allow other people their truth, cheerfully confident of what is true for us, and that can be good enough. This takes some practice and homework...we must KNOW what our truth is; enlightenment is the awareness of self, even our subconscious motivations. If we want a fight on some level, we'll likely get one -- and if we do, we must realize that we've chosen it.

Next, be aware that if we're dealing with unreflective people, those who regularly blame others and haven't recognized their own thumbprint on their behaviors, there is no dialogue going on, only monologue. These folks are not talking to us, they're talking at us -- actually, they're talking to themselves. No participation is required from us, and chances are none will be welcomed. In these situations, I find that asking the right questions is helpful -- questions that point these people back to themselves. Think of it as planting seeds in a garden, for germination at some future point.

Now let’s talk about adrenaline -- the "fight or flight" response. When we find ourselves at cross-point with another person and the conversation gets heated, the adrenaline flows. We feel that we're being attacked. This may or may not be so, but it's what we "feel." The Eastern traditions call these emotions "the tiger stalking the jungle" of our minds -- they come often, they go just as quickly. We are not required to act upon them, simply observe them. It is the ego-mind that demands that we defend a perceived attack -- and that will create a loop of attack/defend that goes on endlessly. I think of our current political situation as an exercise in witnessing the futility of the ego-mind, and the painful ramifications of attack/defend consciousness. I pray that our examination of this mindlessness will wise us up at some point and we'll put an end to it.

If you feel that you are attacked by another person, stop a moment and think about what they're saying to you. Is it true? If it's true on any level, you will feel defensive...and that's a gift of insight for you. It will take some courage to admit that it's true and that will surely polish your soul -- if you aren't that brave, if you can only admit that it might be true and you will take it under consideration, the decibels of the argument will probably drop to a reasonable level. If it's not true, then you can only be angry because you're facing an attacker, which is a whole other ball game. 

Let me tell you about my mother and grandmother (both passed, so I'll assume I have their permission). My mother was a very ladylike Libra who was at odds with her mother-in-law all her life, yet she was generous enough to allow her to live in her home for 15 years. They were in constant battle. One day my grandmother, not the sharpest tool in the shed, got so angry with my mom that she compared her to an...ahem...lady of the night. Mom went ballistic, as only Leo rising can. Me, I fell off my chair laughing. Of all the points Gram could have attacked with, this was the most ludicrous. It was so far from reality that it was more like a pie in the face than an arrow to the heart. To prove the potency of anger for anger's sake, Mom was furious at me for not being furious with her. I'm not sure she ever forgave me that moment. That taught me something -- I consider it as much an error to take offense, as give it. 

With so much in the world we can't resolve, our point of power remains within our own daily interactions. Every argument starts because someone wants something. They may not know what they want, but it's there in their consciousness. That's why Mom stayed angry, even with pie all over her face. My mother wanted a mother of her own; instead, she got Gram. Frankly, none of us could figure out what Gram wanted except to kick up trouble, but there was something in there trying to express itself. That's an excellent question to ask both yourself and the person you feel is attacking you in these kinds of situations. What do you want? There would be no heated conversation if there wasn't something to "achieve."

Arguments are a choice. No one can draw us into something we don't want to do; we all have free will. Of course, as pointed out in the last days, people with guns can make other people die...and the seeming randomness of these kinds of events raises questions of fate and our current nihilistic culture of death, but we cannot break that dark loop by considering ourselves victims. While we're at it, please consider that no one can make us feel anything, either...that is another kind of blame game we use to prove our victimhood, make someone else responsible for our state of mind. We must begin to own our choices, our responses, our feelings, if we are to raise ourselves above the din of same-old, same-old here on planet Terra. Life, in all its messy splendor, is a collection of choices and responses. The only way we can change the circumstances of our lives is to realize that we can choose to respond differently. It was the great scientific mind, Albert Einstein, who defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I would suspect that our scratchy world will give us an opportunity to practice some sanity in the coming days, and I would recommend that choice. It would also be good to remember that if we want peace in the world, we must find it within ourselves first. 

Finally, here's my advice for the extreme argument, the one that seems inches from somebody throwing a punch. You might try to settle it by "agreeing to disagree," although this won't work for an unreflective person; too much wiggle room for those who demand you agree with them.  So if you've had enough, and if you see that things are only going to get worse, simply smile and say, "You're right." You'll be amazed how quickly the mouth that was roaring at you a few seconds before snaps shut. 

I mean, what do you care anyway? Live to fight another day. You can be right, or you can be happy. And that reminds me of another ACIM affirmation: I can have peace instead of this.

Choose peace.

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Priya Kale. Webmaster: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Proofreader and Fact checker: Sara Churchville. Horoscope Editor: Jessica Keet.

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