Do you ever find yourself asking, “If we only have 10 years to turn things around on the planet, and there is no evidence that that has any potential of happening on a significant enough scale, what do my actions mean? Does it matter if I recycle, buy food from a local farmer, commit my life to any major change effort??” I have been deep in this inquiry for several years now, personally and with the groups I serve as a coach and consultant, and I thought I would share some new insights – because as the saying goes, without vision, without a story that inspires our journey, we perish.
Here’s what I know – there is no “right” or “best” or “most highly leveraged” action that any of us can take to evolve the world, except that to which we are called. We are called to our calling, or the unique blueprint for why we are here at this time on the planet. It is tempting to look at others whose service we admire and think, “Wow, what they are doing seems really important and influential.” But it is when we are fulfilling on our own “why”, expressed through our own talents and passions, that our lives find their integrity and authenticity.
We know we are onto our calling when it is self-sustaining AND regenerative. Self-sustaining in that we can’t keep ourselves from it. It is just who we are, and it is a central source of our interest, energy and creativity. A calling is also, and non-negotiably, regenerative or about renewal, restoration, and improvement for self and the common good. Through our unique calling the evolutionary impulse of the Universe expresses through us. Thusly we contribute to the common good in ways we may or may not be able to measure or quantify, but the presence of the “good, true and beautiful” in our calling exerts an unimaginable evolutionary ripple effect.
Another central part of calling is connection to the land, to Mother Earth. We are all being called to find our way back to a lived experience of “interbeing” with the natural world as source, nourishment, and guide to our lives. Research shows that children don’t develop fully, cognitively, socially and physically, without regular play in nature. The same is true of adults. We cannot hope to restore wholeness to our planet without an engaged and passionate relationship with it.
This doesn’t mean that our calling needs to be about cleaning rivers or planting trees. Whether we are called as addiction counselors, teachers, or business leaders, the depth of our relationship to the natural world, and the personal healing and guidance we find in it, are crucial to our ability to lead and serve.
In his 2008 talk about the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Dalai Lama lauded change efforts that are non-violent, committed to ethical and spiritual values, and uphold human dignity. He also talked of human responsibility to care for the planet and its ecological systems. He ended his talk saying, “Let us widen our perspective to include the well being of the whole world and its future generations in our vision of prosperity and freedom.” He reminded us that our own freedom and well-being occur in relationship to that of the rivers, creatures, plants and atmosphere from which we are not separate.
It is in this story of “interbeing”, a term coined by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hahn, where I find the potential for miracles now on the planet. Quantum science can now measure our oneness – our interbeing with the Universe itself. Just as we are not separate from the grasslands and insects, we are inextricably one with every distant galaxy and extraterrestrial form of life. We are not separate from the damage that has and is being perpetuated around us, and we are not separate from the answers.
A sense of deep humility is normal in the face of this profound reality, but not if it causes a paralysis of our own individual participation and ability to act in service to the whole. Humility as we have known it can lead to surrendering our human agency to the will and plan of a higher power, or even other “smarter, more powerful” humans who we trust will access the technology and cleverness to save the day.
Through acting in alignment with our deepest calling we engage in the most powerful collaboration with that higher power – a co-creative partnership our own developing consciousness has now made possible. When we are aligned with our calling we feel the infinite healing power of love moving through us and guiding us. And that is both the greatest joy and the greatest source of peace amidst all that is uncertain.