Beyond Awakening Q&A – Part One

As you may be aware, when appearing on Terry Patten’s Beyond Awakening Teleseminar, I offered to answer all questions from listeners. Well, be careful what you wish for, right? I’ve got a very long cue of questions lined up, and a hopefully patient group of inquirers.

Over the next while I promise to get to all the questions, in order that they were received. Let’s start with Stewart, from Paris, who asks:

Q: “All others forms of life here on Earth (animals, plants) seem to be able to be in harmony/balance. What will it take for the human to also reach this harmony?”

A: For the most part, other life forms live in balance without conscious awareness or choice. Species propagate or die out all the time based on environmental conditions outside their control. They also have limited abilities and resources available to address any challenges to their own survival, or to any overall disharmony.

Therefore, humans are in an entirely different category and will never be part of the same harmony and balance in the same way. Instead, humans have the opportunity to make conscious choices, as individuals and as a “herd,” that, to the best of their understanding, serve the greater whole.

Today, we see many examples of such choices, as well as many more examples of the opposite. If we were to conceptualize the current situation as a race, then certainly the forces of disharmony are “winning” among humans.

Yet many evolutionaries see a possible “critical mass” arising, which could lead to a kind of quantum shift, or 100th Monkey phenomenon (even though the original story of the 100th Monkey has been debunked).

When looking at those opposing forces of disharmony and re-harmonizing among people, I can make a good case for doom, or hope, or even a kind of muddle of them both.

But that doesn’t seem to be the best or most helpful way to view the situation. For me, it’s best to zoom out and take a larger view, in which humans are part of a spiritual ecosystem, sometimes referred to as All That Is. If we see the whole drama of the unfolding universe as a Divine Dance, in which nothing is bad, wrong, or excluded, then the greatest human folly, and even earthly destruction, are possible eventualities that would also be parts of the Divine to be accepted.

When I look at our predicament this way, it softens me, opens me, and releases me from attachment to any particular side or outcome. From there I can see how much I love the earth, and all its species, and how much I’m driven to be a harmony restorer.

But I can also then see myself as just one part of the Divine Dance, neither better or worse then those other dancers I may oppose with my personal and political activism.

More radical still, I can then feel liberated and expansive when advocating for the balance and harmony that are so important to me, even if — and here’s the hardest part to grasp — all my efforts come to naught. In fact, even if I knew before setting out to heal or bring balance to any particular species or aspect of our planet that my efforts were already doomed to fail, I’d still make those efforts.

Why? Because they’re a part of who I am, which I’m therefore honored and privileged to express. No matter what.

Seeing the “dance floor” in this way enables me to fully embody the one individual dancer I am. In peace. And hopefully with grace.

Living this way, no doubt, requires that we embrace paradox. It asks that we be able to navigate the realm of the “relative” while always remaining aware of, and connected to, the “absolute.”

Ken Wilber, I believe, was first among contemporary thinkers to articulate the paradox in this way. In my view it’s own of his most essential contributions.


About Raphael Cushnir

Raphael Cushnir is a popular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine. He has also been a teacher, activist, screenwriter, and film director. His own heart was rekindled after a period of profound grief. His first book, Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship, was twice nominated as Best Personal Growth title of the year and introduced the "Living the Questions" process. His second book, Setting Your Heart on Fire: Seven Invitations to Liberate Your Life, is used as a teaching tool in churches and spiritual centers around the country. His third book, How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment, was named one of the "Best Spiritual Books of 2005" by Spirituality and Health magazine. Raphael shares his work in talks and workshops worldwide. For more info:;;;
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