Everything built up will fall, and all that falls will rise again - this could be called the cycle of existence. When things are about to fall in this cycle, there are premonitions that wash through our hearts, and the premonitions have definite signs:
We lose our Generosity:
We become increasingly out for ourselves, because we are afraid. Earlier in our history, we were fearless; we would give the shirt off our back to a neighbor in need even if it was the last shirt we had. We really cared for each other. But now, we can't count on help from our neighbors. It all began many years ago when we allowed the homeless to fend for themselves, and we guiltily looked the other way. We didn't even realize that we were becoming fearful.
"Others are my main concern. When I notice something of mine, I steal it and give it to others."
We lose our Principles:
We can no longer define our principles. Whatever is required to meet our goals seems to be our morals now. And our goals...? To get as much as we can before someone else does. It all stems from fear, and we will vote for the one who promises to allay the greatest number of our fears, whether those fears are economic, religious, or political. We look to our leaders to do this for us, because we no longer trust ourselves to make a stand for what we believe. We can't even grasp right from wrong anymore; it all gets distorted beyond our comprehension.
1. Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
2. Avoid stealing -- taking what is not yours to take.
3. Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.
4. Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
5. Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.
- Buddhist precepts
We lose our Patience
When things don't go our way, we get angry; we can't accept the fact that we have problems. Problems are part of existence, and existence is conflict, but we can't see this, and we believe that existence should be easy. But it's not. So, because we don't understand, we get angry; we try to make existence bow to our wishes. Then we blame others for our problems.
"The Greatest Prayer is patience."
We lose our Resolve
"It is not good to begin many different works, saying 'This looks good; that looks good', touching this, touching that, and not succeeding in any of them. If you do not generate great desires but aim at what is fitting, you can actualize the corresponding potencies and become an expert in that. With success, the power or imprint of that practice is generated."
- The Dalai Lama
We lose our Wisdom
One sign is when, as a society, we begin thinking that we are infallible, that nothing can go wrong anymore because we have control - this is a sure sign that the fall is about to happen - we lose our wisdom.
"The mind is everything. What you think you become."
We lose our Compassion
Our love is only one side of a two-sided coin, the other side being hatred. We love ours, but hate theirs. True compassion is unconditional love. Conditional love cannot help but have anger as its companion.
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
We lose our Truthfulness
Fear drives us to do whatever is necessary to secure ourselves, including lying. The entire world is becoming a used car lot, and we are either the customers being swindled, or the salesman doing the swindling. Whether it is mortgage companies, religious leaders, or politicians. It is all becoming untruthful.
"Three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."
We lose our Composure
Whatever happens in the world cycle will arise and pass. Governments, movements, and politicians will come and go, but your own actions will remain in your heart eternally.
"The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed."
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com