The news reports showing the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti saddened me. The people of that island country are in my prayers. My heart is open to the pain and sorrow which they are experiencing.
My heart is opened by this event, just as it was by the Indian Ocean tsunami, the destruction of New Orleans by Katrina, and similar natural disasters that have shaken the lives of so many people. I suspect yours was too.
Natural disasters such as in Haiti not only open our hearts but bring out the best in people in countries as they reach out to help the people in need. This should always be our first response. Yet in time, tragedies such as this cause us to pause and reflect upon their greater meaning for our lives and the life of the planet.
Some people see such events as being consciously caused by a judgmental external God in retribution for human errors. I obviously don’t agree. My view of God or Spirit is not as an external being but rather an intelligence or consciousness or energy that permeates everything. This Spirit does not “judge” our actions. Comments by others regarding such acts being caused by a judgmental God simply reminds me that in the diversity of humanity there is quite a diversity in our worldviews. This diversity of thought is natural and to be understood from a higher perspective and not “judged” even when we disagree. If we were in their shoes and life experiences, we might see things the same way.
For me, there is a different and more positive message that we can take from such tragic events…simply stated, our perception of the world is shrinking, and our hearts with their care and concern for others are expanding.
It wasn’t too long ago that my perception of the world was that it was a bigger place than I sense it to be today. When the earth was “bigger” in my mind, natural disasters on the other side of the planet did not have the emotional impact that they do today. So much of technology such as pictures of Earth from space and the immediacy of television broadcasts from around the planet have served to expand my mental “neighborhood”. Now events around the world touch my heart like only tragedies in my city could do before. I know from discussions that many people feel the same way.
This is part of our spiritual evolution. Ken Wilber and his integral theory offer us a perspective here which might be useful. He points out that we are all evolving on many “lines of development”. For ease we might just consider these as different skills, abilities and intelligences that we all possess but have developed within us to a certain “stage” which will differ from person to person. For example, we all can play the piano, lift weights, and do mathematical calculations but not at the same level. One area in which we are all growing or evolving is in our care and concern for others which Wilber calls the “moral line of development”. Wilber also points out that we develop through these ‘lines” in four different “quadrants” of experience. These four areas can be sensed as we consider that we have an internal awareness of our thoughts and an external awareness of our bodies and other physical stuff. Then both our internal and external awareness occur within our individual singular world of “me” and in the collective relational world of “us”. (I, and others, have written on this elsewhere if you want to go into it in more detail.)
We might consider that as our collective external technology has evolved, such evolution has pushed us along our internal “moral line of development.” Scientific studies have shown that humans grow morally through the same sequence, generally settling into one moral way of looking at the world. When we are born, we care only about meeting our personal needs, and therefore are considered “egocentric”. As we grow up, the circle of people for whom we have care and concern expands to a broader and broader group. Here we are considered “ethnocentric”. Many people never get beyond some form of this level. Yet more and more people are expanding their circle of care and concern to all beings and to the earth at large. These moral levels are often called “worldcentric” or “kosmocentric”.
And, as we move up this moral developmental line, we sense it both internally as our hearts open and we feel empathy for others. And, we act externally from that higher view point by reaching out and sending relief and helping others that we might not have assisted in the past.
Therefore, when the time is right we might step back and view tragedies such as a Haiti in a broader light and see how they are serving our evolution. As we move through our experience of time, more of humanity senses the shrinking of the world. With this, more and more people will sense the expansion of their hearts and truly feel how we are all interconnected, and the Oneness of Life. And, that internal sense of our Oneness will out picture in the world by our treating others with dignity, respect and love….no matter who they are, where they live, or what they believe. That will truly be heaven on earth.
My heart and prayers are with the people of Haiti and all the emergency response workers who are serving there. May all of our hearts be open to sending them our love and support.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!