“When you see violent conflict around you, and reports of violent conflicts everywhere, do not allow yourselves to get drawn into reactionary fear and panic...But this isn’t transformation; it’s only the pains of labor that precede the birth of something new.”
In the recent election cycle, our country has entered into a time of unprecedented fear. We are witnessing a collapse of trust in the government, in political parties, and most dangerously, the rise of a fractioning of the American people into two camps filled with mutual animosity. Many followers of both candidates, Clinton and Trump, became convinced that the other side is not only wrong, but also dangerous and even evil. How can a person who trusts in God and seeks to follow the Way of Christ respond to this fragmentation? We are convinced that the way forward is the way of Divine Love. We must refuse to collapse into either camp, but to maintain interior clarity and practice unconditional love for all people, moment by moment, day by day, at all times. This cannot be done by our false self, which finds its identity in anything other than Divine Love. It requires a death (even a painful crucifixion) of the limited ideas and beliefs of our false self, to be born into a radically new way of living and loving from the heart of Christ.
In the thirteenth Chapter of The Gospel of Mark, Jesus teaches his closest followers the way forward in such a time. We feel moved this week to print this teaching here. This is an excerpt from Mark Kutolowski’s contemplative translation of the Gospel of Mark.*
5 Yeshua began by saying, “Be careful, and do not let anyone manipulate your mind and heart. 6 In a time of crisis, many so-called leaders will rise up, claiming to be the answer, saying, “I am the One who will keep you safe.” They will manipulate the minds and hearts of many, who are fearful, into following them. 7 When you see violent conflict around you, and reports of violent conflicts everywhere, do not allow yourselves to get drawn into reactionary fear and panic. These disturbances are what naturally happen in a time of uncertainty and upheaval, but they’re not the real change we’re looking for. 8 Groups of people will fight and invade other groups, and countries will wage war against other countries. There will even be natural disasters in many places, and times of widespread starvation. But this isn’t transformation; it’s only the pains of labor that precede the birth of something new.
9 As for you who are following my teaching, stay alert and watchful, both within and around yourselves. If you remain in peaceful, powerful Truth in a time of fear and panic, and do not take sides when people are hating and fighting each other, they may arrest you for your strange, different ways, and even go so far as to physically harm you in their supposed places of worship. You will be dragged before political rulers because you abide in my living presence, and they will see your light radiating before them. 10 This Liberating Transmission we’re bringing into the world must be shared with all people, of every background. 11 So, when fearful people drag you away in chains and make you stand trial, don’t even worry about what to say. Just open your mouths and speak whatever is given to you at that moment. It won’t be your small self that is speaking. The One Sacred Spirit, dwelling within you, will speak through you! 12 The terror in the world may be so great that families will be torn apart, with brothers betraying each other, children betraying parents, and parents betraying children – even handing their own family over to executioners! This is what fear does in people’s hearts in a time of great conflict. 13 In such a time, if you remain in my light, power, peace, and presence, then every one of the warring factions will hate you for not taking their side. However, the one who perseveres in living from Divine light and truth through all this tumult, not giving into hate or fear, will be made completely whole and transformed by the ordeal. The hardship, far from destroying you, will increase the power of your love.
14 When you see a corrupt worldly power destroying all that our people hold as sacred (while writing this, I can’t be too obvious here, but you, reading it, know what I mean!), then those of you abiding in the hub of our human culture and activity need to run to remote, wild places in the mountains. Don’t get involved in fighting to preserve what will soon be lost anyways. 15 If you are keeping watch outside your home, don’t even go inside to gather your possessions, 16 and if you’re working in a field, don’t go home to gather your gear. This is not a time to cling, but a time to let go and move forward. During the death of the old and the birth of the new, you must trust and move forward! 17 This will be hardest of all for those already committed to stability and building up their families. 18 Ask G-d that this shifting will not come when the land is already cold and desolate. 19 This matters, because this time of collapse will be a time of such great challenge, exteriorly and interiorly – it will be harder than any span since the beginning or the end of time. 20 If Divine Love won’t shorten this trial, no one would be strong enough to move forward into wholeness. However, out of love for those called into intimate union, Divine Love will make the trial just brief enough to be endurable. 21 If, in this time of great challenge, someone tries to tell you, ‘Here’s the One who will keep you safe! Look, there’s the easy answer to our problems!’, do not trust in what they are saying. 22 Many fearful people, still living in their untransformed minds and hearts, will come forward trying to offer you seductive, false teachings – trying to offer you a way around the trial, instead of my invitation to walk through it into genuine transformation. They may do actions that appear on the surface to be from G-d, even things that seem like powerful miracles. They will try to mislead Divine Love’s trusting ones, if there is any possible way to mislead them. 23 Stay alert and mindfully present – I have warned you about these challenges before they happen, to help you remain spiritually awake when they come.
Let us stay awake and not let our hearts be deceived by fear or manipulation. Let us remain open to God and to each other. And may love and suffering break us open into new life.
* This ‘contemplative translation’ emphasizes the spiritual meaning in the text, rather than the more common literal word-by-word translation.