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The daily news from Ukraine during this Lent has highlighted the role of military and diplomatic ‘intelligence’ about how the war is going. This kind of intelligence means knowing what each side doesn’t want the other to know. It’s also about interpreting the information for one’s own advantage (in the hope it is ‘good intelligence. This is an interesting word to use about a situation that betrays the depths of human stupidity: delusion, hubris and brutishly cruel force.
Together with many issues like Covid, the environmental crisis and the predicament of democracy, the conflict in Ukraine teaches us – as Easter will - through tragedy. The lesson to learn is that humanity now must evolve in consciousness, far beyond what it thinks is ‘intelligence’ and way beyond its pride in technology. How we think and how we use our tools relies upon our level of consciousness. Lent gives us a new perspective on the daily news from the edges of Europe that is touching human hearts everywhere as well as upon these global questions.
Normally we focus on scientific, rational, measurable and (supposedly) provable knowledge. Our obsession with ‘deliverables’ and ‘outcomes’ shows how narrow and myopic this can be. It blinds us with a fear of mystery, uncertainty and intuition, which we consider to be forms of ignorance rather than the sources of wisdom they really are. We believe what we can measure everything with cognitive tools – measuring, predicting, systematising everything, until the spirit and joy of life have been sucked out. We become like the drained victims of vampire.
But there are three other springs of knowledge that flow directly from the source of consciousness and that await our rediscovery. Faith is relational knowledge generated by mutual trust and loyalty to a common good. Hope is the implicit knowledge that even our failures and losses in life are part of a pattern leading to the flourishing of humanity. Love is the supreme knowledge of union that overflows the brim of human consciousness, extending our horizons with the pure light of spiritual intelligence.
When these three ways of knowing fire together they boost us out of the orbit of stupidity and self-centredness. Then we recognise what we are seeing, just as the disciples of the risen Christ once did in every one and in every situation.
Humanity is struggling to rise to this higher consciousness before we do fatal harm to ourselves, our descendants and our planet. It is the collective responsibility of all the wisdom traditions to advance this evolution. It is no less our personal responsibility, each of us, to do the inner work necessary and to deposit in a common fund whatever small progress each of us can make.
Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2022
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