Know yourself

A special greeting to all the Graduates (current and past)!

Can’t you remember when they were just babies?!

Off into the world you go. Let’s get busy making the future. 

This week’s bulletin offers a roadmap for all of us graduates to be part of a healthier earth by following one rule:

Know yourself.

It’ll be a guide in sorting all the messaging that vies for your attention.

COVID Vaccine Rewards

You’ve heard of state programs offering beer, lottery tickets, and donuts as a reward for receiving a COVID vaccine? In the news this week Washington state has approved a “joints for jabs” campaign. Take your medicine, and your reward will be a small stash of marijuana.

That’s all fine, right?

In my opinion, it’s a sign of the troubled times. It shows we don’t have a basis to judge what is harmful. Hype and promotion and cultural norms tell us one thing, and the truth of our being tell us another.

Mental Health Struggles

A sign of the troubled times is the epidemic of mental health struggles that have become a staple of modern life. I argue that not being connected to the truth of our being is driving our struggle.

The pandemic has compounded it. 50 million people were in the mix with mental health issues in 2019. All estimates say that has increased by a lot in 2020.

But, isn’t marijuana a medicine? Surely it can help?

Perhaps counterintuitively to some people, the scientific data that does exist are mixed and actually tilted towards the idea that ingested cannabis plant material likely leads to the development and worsening of depressive symptoms.

The best measurement of any action is not how it fits with the cultural norm or the immediate feedback it gives us but the lasting effect on our connection to our whole selves: body, soul and spirit.

Marijuana is not any different from other drugs. My point is that none of them stand up as a top tier approach. The full scope is needed, always.

Chronic Stress

Burnout (state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress) provides a good lens through which to view our times. It has been rampant in society for some time. It is well studied in education. A pre-pandemic study showed that 77 percent of respondents in a variety of educational fields said they experienced burnout. The major reasons given in the report include lack of support and recognition.

In my view, the reason people burnout is due to lack of support and recognition of our wholeness. To truly thrive we need to be recognized and be seen as a being of soul and spirit and work in a system that acknowledges that. We need self knowledge and a society that understands its people.

Medicine is a field that suffers burn out as well. Pre-pandemic statistics indicate that more than 50 percent of physicians suffer from burnout. Patients notice it too (data show most Americans say the U.S. healthcare system is troubled: nearly three-quarters of employed Americans (73%) say the healthcare system is “in a state of crisis” or “has major problems” in a Gallup survey from 2018).

What’s going on here? I think medicine and education are in a primary position in all of society to help humanity learn about its truest path. They have the ability to set the cultural tone. If educators and medical providers are cut off from being difference makers and find themselves in a system that has a primarily economic viewpoint, they burn out.

Where to turn?

Help is available. Lots of paths present themselves. Choose wisely.

The psychedelic drug boom in mental health is nearing reality, say the headlines. From LSD to peyote, psychedelic drugs are shaking off their negative connotations to position themselves as the way forward in a struggling modern society. It reminds me of the promise of narcotics in the 90s. Narcotics were supposed to help us get our lives back. The wake of destruction that came with the narcotic boom proved to complicate the initially rosy picture.

Will psychedelics be different? From a holistic perspective the answer lies in acknowledging our true nature. Period. A deeper connection to ourselves is the only thing that will suffice.

We don’t need a medicine to do that. In fact, medicines that say they can do the work for us are dangerous. They never do it as well as we would. I think it totally misses the point. The work is the point. Drugs can be a temporary bridge, but don’t believe the hype. The real work for true transformation involves lining up our whole existence with our truest selves, on all levels: individual, family, societal, and cultural levels.

My message:

Optimize your coping methods. Shift your perspective to decide what truly helps and what hurts.

A holistic perspective is the key. You have to see the whole human being: body, soul and spirit. Change that doesn’t include certain essential processes in the soul is a mirage.

Meeting the Soul and Spirit

“And the time will come (…) when it will be said: if a man thinks at all of spirit and soul, that is a pathological symptom: those individuals who speak only of the body, they alone are healthy. It will be regarded as a symptom of illness if a human being develops in such a way that he can conceive of the existence of a spirit or a soul. Such people will be considered to be ill.”

Rudolf Steiner

I think that time has come and it explains why we are confused that taking trans fats, alcohol and marijuana to wash down our medicine is not normal. These all have implications on different parts of our whole being that need to be considered.

We are all creating the future with how we spend, how we act, and even how we think. Contributing to the earth’s progress in the way that is most in line with our inner being is a great goal.

The first step is to acknowledge soul life. Then can we learn about what nurtures it. Nurturing the soul then can take a priority over erasing symptoms. Both are important, but the latter in isolation won’t work.

I don’t desire to judge current coping strategies. Do them as you need. They are an important bridge. I want only to acknowledge a larger ideal we can start to envision. Thank you for taking it on!