We exist within a system of global violence that forces us into relationships of domination with each other, creates a situation where the material safety of some is dependent on the oppression, life energy is extracted for profit, and human existence entails the destruction of the planet. Whether we are in the role of “oppressed” or “oppressor” we are all caught in a dehumanizing system that alienates us from our true selves and wounds us psychological, spiritually, and physically. The pain is different depending on a person’s position in the social structure, but the entire structure is a deep violence against the human condition that transforms every person into a grist for a mill designed to extract all value from nature and people, monetize it, and consolidate it in the hands of the few so that they may satisfy the more base and fearful parts of their own selves that they have become trapped in, and these few are alienated and suffering as well.
This situation is not the only way we could be living, but as long as it’s in place none of us can be full and liberated manifestations of our most sacred, intimate, truthful, and loving natures. None of us can avoid harming each other and falling short of what we know we could be. None of us.
We often exhibit two responses to this truth that create deep tension, particularly in the world of identity politics. Fortunately, there is a third choice that presents an alternative path.
The first response is to tune into a dimension of reality that does not carry the message of the violence structural violence and our complicity. Tikkun readers are likely pretty adept at noticing avoidance patterns like consumerism, bigotry, and ignorance, but there is a more subtle channel that well intentioned spiritual folks are more likely to get caught on: the transcendent present.
This transcendent present is real. It is a place beyond word, thought, and distinction where everything is exactly as it should be. Here, even the darkest of emotions are merely the decadent unfurling of a universe that knows nothing but love. This is the place where matter, space, and energy are one; the place where all is one and seperate objects are as much an illusion as invented categories like race, gender, and nationality. There are no barriers to love here and all is an ecstatic cosmic union.
This channel is referred to in most spiritual traditions and it is an essential aspect of our reality, but a fixation on the transcendent present and a belief that it holds a truth superior to other states of being can create two destructive consequences: escapism and denial. Both consequences do not arise from the state itself, but rather the belief that the state is more true or real than other states.
Escapism arises from the addiction to constantly occupying this state. Like other addictions, people seek a particular experience that allows them to avoid more painful or unfamiliar parts of existence; and like other addictions people are willing to commit and rationalize harmful acts in pursuit of their goal.
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Tikkun is a magazine dedicated to healing and transforming the world. We seek writing that gives us insight on how to make that utopian vision a reality. We build bridges between religious and secular progressives by delivering a forceful critique of all forms of exploitation, oppression, and domination while nurturing an interfaith vision of a caring society — one whose institutions are reconstructed on the basis of love, generosity, nonviolence, social justice, caring for nature, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe. To learn more, read our Core Vision statement.