Russia has invaded the Ukraine. This, on top of everything else, has caused many people’s stress and anxiety to go up.
Can philosophy help us?
While it can’t solve this problem politically, it can help us deal with it on a personal level. For one thing, it provides perspective. For example, in the Bible it says that “there is nothing new under the sun.” War has raged throughout human history. This speaks to what, for lack of a better term, can be called “the human condition.”
Wars will continue to rage as long as humans remain as they are. War, as with all suffering, invites us to leave Plato’s “cave,” and come out to the real world. Of course, what is real is an open question (and a very good one to ponder).
But at the least, it is a call to stop thinking “the shadows on the wall” of the cave are real. It is a call to wake up, to pay attention, and to work with my own mind.
This is only possible in the present moment. Perhaps our life is more perfect than we think when we move out of our thoughts and into our being.
One of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, wrote: “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
It relaxes me to realize that I do not need to know the future or dwell on the past to enjoy what I can do in the present moment. It is my imagination that says there should be more and my whining nature to say that things are not good enough the way they are just now.
How much of human misery is self-generated by this insatiable need to know? How much joy are we losing due to our own addiction to being in control?
Today, right now, breathing in and breathing out, I am OK. The practice comes by remembering this need to keep coming back to this present moment.
Eckhart Tolle writes: “In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.”
Perhaps — and just perhaps — the best thing I can do to end war is to make peace with myself. If I can “vibrate” with the finer energy of love, then — perhaps — I can influence the “vibration” of fear and hatred that keeps us in a cycle where wars are inevitable.
From this loving space, an intuition may arrive about something I can do, such as making a donation to the Red Cross or another organization that is helping the refugees.
My favorite visual of just being in the present moment is watching a dog with its head out of a car window as it is driven along. It is a picture of bliss and I wish you all this present moment awareness bliss throughout the turmoil of these times.