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Why Some Turbulence Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

Have you felt the disruptions of late? Protests, riots, statues being pulled down, old systems being challenged, some even being broken down. It can seem like chaos and indeed at times it is. This can be unsettling and confronting.

When I was in India studying to be a meditation teacher I kept noticing the many tall statues of Shiva, a deity known as ‘the destroyer’. At first I was struck by this but during the training I learnt why it was that there was such a deep respect and reverence in the culture for a ‘deity’ who represented a disruptive and destructive force.

As part of the studies I was exposed to a philosophy known as the Vedas, which is one of the most ancient bodies of wisdom spanning over 5000 years. One of the tenets of Vedic philosophy is the recognition that evolution consists of three forces: creative (represented by Brahma), maintenance (Vishnu) and destruction (Shiva). These three forces are considered not only equally relevant but also, at varying times, essential, which explains why Shiva was so highly revered for the important part it plays in the evolutionary process.

So, what is evolution?

One of the definitions of evolution in Dictionary.com is that it is, ‘a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions’.

Change and progress towards a more unified, harmonised and connected society is essential under what seems to be a Universal Law. Some schools of thought, embraced by the likes of philosophers Aristotle and St Thomas Aquinas, call this a Natural Law. An in-depth article on Natural Law Tradition in Ethics, in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, states that, “All human beings possess a basic knowledge of the principles of the natural law”, as it refers to ideas and moral codes for how to live and contribute to a good life and society.

We know when Natural Law prevails there is greater unity and connection, which results in greater harmony. What do we mean by harmony? Again, referring to Dictionary.com for this, one of the descriptions refers to harmony as, ‘a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts’.

However at times this process of evolution towards greater harmony gets stuck, usually because of some dogma or conditioning that causes a blockage in the process. It can be from a social construct that gets embedded deep into a society’s psyche and becomes very hard to shake off or change. As described in the Vedas, this is when the destructive, evolutionary force known as Shiva steps in to help dislodge the blockage so that “gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development” may continue.

Some of the most painful and turbulent times in my life have also been my greatest moments of progress. If I was more adaptable and less resistant to change I may have avoided the intense moments of turbulence that forced me out of my patterns but because I wasn’t, the seeming chaos had to ensue. Yes, it was dark, painful, confusing and heavy. Looking back, though, it was what had to happen so that I could experience “progressive change”.

Change and evolution must prevail. We as a species don’t get to choose that. What we do get to choose is whether it’s through Brahma, the creative force, OR through Shiva the destructive one—this is where we have a variable and choice.

So here we are, in what could be a watershed moment in history with the potential to result in an evolutionary leap towards a more ‘pleasing arrangement of parts’. Does it need riots, protests and anger to overturn hundreds of years of oppression, inequality, injustice and divide? It looks like it does. Yes, some might want things to be ‘how they were’, to go back to the ‘good ol days’, but this isn’t the way evolution works.

Out of this seeming chaos and disruption there appears to be some glimpses of progressive change already. For instance:
– The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam has announce the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee as it symbolised black slavery.
– Denver and Portland have announced they will remove armed police from all schools.
– Minneapolis City Council President, Lisa Bender, announced they were going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.

Are we there yet? Heck no! There is a long way to go.

But it’s a start, and if we want to move towards a peaceful, harmonious society some big shifts are going to have to take place that may challenge some deep cultural, political and social ‘systems’. And again, it can be done peacefully if we adapt and change, or it can occur through turbulence if there is resistance. Keep making noise, keep rattling cages, keep up the movement towards a ‘consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts’ in whichever way we can with harmony, unity and peace as the goal.

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