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There is a common misconception that when someone “wakes up” that they go into a state of love and light for everyone. That you hold this joy-filled space in your heart for those around you, and the world at large.

And while certainly compassion develops the more that you “awaken”, the whole “love and light” thing is a misconception. In my experience, and the direct experience of the countless people I have worked with (or am friends with) who are “waking up”… they find the world a rather hard place to be in.

I have personally gotten to a point where I understand why things are the way that they are: individual people, groups of people, political parties, and so forth.

And I have a lot of compassion for people. As individuals we are often traumatized, afraid, angry, and look for anything and anyone that will help us not to feel that way. This world is at once full of anesthetics and also at once filled with violence, fear, and propaganda to incite our anger and fear… and the cycle generally continues, with the world and individuals making us more afraid and so we need more anesthetic behavior to get us through.

I often say that people are doing the best that they can. The difficulty is that they struggle so much with the trauma they have been given, the beliefs that they hold to be true. Most people are unable to look beyond their own experiences of this world, and in their selfishness they feel like the whole world should be exactly in line with their direct experiences, ethics, and belief structures.

In fact, if anyone is out of line with personally held beliefs, understandings, or direct experiences, they must be false. Or evil. Or most likely both.

Even most “spiritual” people hold themselves back. They are deeply afraid of themselves, deeply afraid of their power individually. They will do anything and everything to get in the way of their own spiritual and emotional progression. They will resist, react, or anesthetize themselves to the world by creating illusions that will allow for themselves to put their head in the proverbial sand spiritually to make the outer world somehow okay.

Or they will enter a deep state of despair, anger, or fear, literally feeling the energies of the world course through them… sometimes unaware that what they are feeling and sensing is energy from the world.

One of my earliest teachers used to say that most people were actually dead. I had a strong reaction to it at the time, as my understanding level at the time didn’t allow for me to see that he didn’t mean it as anything other than a simple passionless truth– that people are walking through this world generally in a state of complete unawareness– unaware of who they are, what they are here to do, and simply go through the motions of this world based on cultural and societal “norms” without questioning because that is what we are taught to do.

This teacher was actually a compassionate man, who would say such things with a bit of sadness to his eyes, because it was difficult for him to look at the world and the people in it and see that most people are not alive, or truly living. I can see that now.

Lately with the energies of the world how they are, and the era of Kali Yuga firmly upon us, it is hard as a sensitive person not to react. It is also hard to look out and see so many of my students and friends in a place of chaos or deep emotion, feeling and sensing the chaos and deep energies of the world grid.

The world grid is the collective energies of the world– past, present, and future. It is a weaving of energies, the energies of every person, creature, and the world itself contributing.

This grid can be seen, or even worked with by some. But for most people who are sensitive, they are awakened to this layer of energy and are feeling the deep, tumultuous pull of the world energies that have been crashing down upon us wave after wave for the past few months.

The difficulty, of course, is that most people are not aware of this. A lot of sensitive people have simply noticed themselves depressed, sick, or otherwise moody for the past few months without being able to understand why (beyond perhaps an awareness of politics, world events, and so forth).

The other difficulty is that people who reach a certain stage of awakening (or are incredibly sensitive and have skipped a few “steps”) are literally fault lines for this grid. What this means is that these energies flow through us, through our human forms, seeking release.

World energies are large flows of energy. They are much larger energies than personal emotion, or even ancestral, past life, or other energies that are deeply rooted in our personal history. This is why, in simple terms, they are overwhelming.

Our personal emotions are like a small stream of energy, even if they are choppy they still have only so much width, or depth (unless you have had a kundalini awakening, in which energies get heightened). The flow of world energies can be more like an entire ocean reacting in simple waves, or the storm of a typhoon.

As we awaken, we become more aware of both the inner and the outer. And we feel more, connect more, and are more.

What this means is that “modern” spiritual knowledge is fairly illusory– if we believe that connecting to the world is only joy and hugs that will make us want to awaken, or become more sensitive. If we are taught that we must become ascetics and give up the world, disconnect ourselves from any sort of emotion or feeling associated with it, we become hermits, no longer connecting with the world or anyone in it. Renouncing the world can provide valuable spiritual progression, but the point of being human is to connect, to love, and to use our senses. We cannot enjoy our physical bodies and do what we are intended to do here if we disconnect from the world.

We can also remain in illusion. We can tell ourselves to only focus on the positive, on the light. This is a big part of modern-day spiritual movements because it provides the same sort of temporary anesthetic relief that watching television to keep your mind off something does. If we are an upper-middle class individual who cannot bear to see poverty, we can simply close our computers and tell ourselves that if we work on ourselves in a workshop or by meditating the world will change. We can again ignore the outer world– and seeing (or feeling) the pain of those lost in difficulty, chaos, trauma, hatred, or stupidity because it doesn’t direct effect us (or we can tell ourselves that if we have the luxury of doing so). We can ignore the physicality of the world, ignore those around us, placating ourselves for our inaction in the physical world.

We can tell ourselves that things are going to get better soon, or that chaos leads to light. And it does. But focusing on the future to ignore the present is yet another form of anesthesia.

I remember when I was going through a phase where I was deeply connecting with people. I had no idea what was going on at the time– I would simply be in meditation, or lying in bed to go to sleep, and I would hear people in distress. It took me a while to figure out that I was connecting to people… not because they were in any way linked to me or my personal history… but because connecting to the world grid truly means becoming aware of the energies of those around us, and of the people around us.

I do not have any simple solutions for this energy. I will say that the more that we work on ourselves, the more that we can heal ourselves, it is one less energy that does contribute hatred, fear, or sleep into that world grid. I will also say that the more we work on ourselves and learn to discern energies, such as world energies, the more that we can allow for them to flow through us (rather than get stuck or cause us pain). Generally the clearer we are, the more we can let “flow” through those fault lines more readily. I also suggest being of service in your community. Being of service in some small way allows for us to contribute as well as allows for people to move beyond the sort of illusory “everything is about me” and “if it doesn’t affect me I can stick my head in the sand or tell myself that love and light memes will help” sort of spirituality that is so pervasive these days.

But I do not have solution for the sadness, the realization that the world is filled with people who are in pain, who are causing themselves pain… It is easy going into the spiritual “genre” to placate, to tell everyone that everything is going to be okay, to come up with a few sentences or a meme or two that will state that awakening is filled with the sort of light and joy that all the memes and books say it is.

Because it is. There is divine bliss, knowing truly who you are, going beyond and beyond and beyond the illusions and restrictions you have set for yourself and what has been set for you. There is a compassion– a realization that people are doing the best that they can, the best that they know how to do. And there is compassion for yourself– you are doing the best that you can, the best that you know how to do. But there is also grief, and connection, and feeling the deep emotions of others, and the world, flow through you. In oneness we realize how connected we are– not only in joy, but in all emotions, all experiences. Some of these emotions are beautiful, and transcendent, and realizing that you are truly a part of the world after feeling disconnected and alone is a truly awe-inspiring experience. But some of these emotions are of pain, of difficulty, and of the chaos of the world and the people in it. And we have a choice to accept oneness as it is, or to reject it in search of the sort of illusory anesthesia that is offered so many places and by so many people.

I would rather feel more of the world than less, and find that although the emotions are there, and there are days that I wish I lived on another planet (or in another country, lately), that by connecting more, and connecting more authentically, my compassion grows. My light grows. The realization that I am not alone in this world grows. And I would rather take this world and the people in it as they are, then try to control or cajole them into being anything other than they are. Because they are doing the best that they can, or the best that they know how to do… and are often fighting simply to get through the day, the hour, or the minute.