The world's going to hell.
Over the years I've had the great privilege to have met many fascinating and beautiful people in my spiritual work from all corners of the world and if I've gained one universal insight about these wonderful souls, despite our obvious cultural differences, it is that we’re all remarkably similar.
Yet if we were to read the average newspaper or watch the copious amount of News channels that seem to be popping up on TV, you would think that we live in a terribly miserable and dark world and while I’m not saying that there aren’t problems or that I'm choosing to see the world through rose coloured spectacles or ignoring the obvious troubles and tragedies. For the average person going about their daily life, we are incredibly fortunate to live in such an extraordinarily happy and tolerant world, despite the one or two in society who for whatever reasons stray from the loving path of peace, tolerance and harmony.
I’m sharing these words with you today, after chatting with a rather eccentric and colourful elderly neighbour of mine while I was tidying the garden. “The world's going to hell,” he said, “it’s all the foreigners, it’s never been as bad as this. They are everywhere, they own everything, ruin everything and they’re damn right rude.” But the sad truth about my neighbour Bill, is that he hasn't strayed very far from his house for almost twenty years through poor health and the world that Bill is so disgruntled about is presented to him through the negative newspapers that he religiously reads on a daily basis, along with a healthy dose of TV News, no wonder that he’s as so pessimistic and negative.
But isn't this the case with lots of us, for our experience of the world is largely based upon a complex blend of truth, supposition and false beliefs, or to quote the British philosopher Alan Watts, “The menu is not the meal” a clever play with the idea that what we think or believe to be reality, can in all truthfulness be very different from the ‘actual’ reality. For how many times have you ordered a meal from the menu at your favourite restaurant to be somewhat disappointed when the food arrives at your table. While the words from the menu go some way in building our expectations, like the media in Bill’s case, it’s our imagination that fuels our actual reality and while Bill is utterly convinced that the ills of the world are caused by “those foreigners,” in all truthfulness, Bill is trapped by the negative rhetoric spread by certain quarters of the media that he reads on a daily basis, along with deep-rooted fears and anxieties that have probably been with Bill for many years.
So the thoughts that I’d like to leave you with today. Could any of your negative thinking that we can all suffer with from time to time, be fuelled and sustained by your exposure to the media? While I'm not saying that all media is entirely negative, the simple truth is that many of us form our opinions of the world from other people's negative views, while often the reality is very different. For many of us in truth live in a very isolated and sheltered world and in reality fortunately live in a very peaceful and beautiful world also. For while Bill was stood at his garden gate chatting about the ills of the world as he sees it, he was surrounded by the most beautiful flowers at his feet, the sacred song of birds, the gentle aroma of lavender in the air and the sight of two white butterflies fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Yet Bill was trapped in a world that had absolutely no bearing on the world around him. He was blind to the majesty and splendour that surrounds each and every one of us, if we simply open our awareness and distance ourselves from the illusions of fear and negativity and grasp the simple truth and joy, that we live in a magnificent, sacred and incredibly positive and beautiful world.