A unity of opposites is present in the universe as difference and sameness (Heraclitus ca. 535-475 BC)
Since the beginning of time, opposing forces have helped sustain balance in the universe. The tension of opposite forces demonstrated by the myth of Eros and Thanatos: love and hate, life & death, compassion and intolerance - provides for order and dynamism in the universe. Wisdom in many faith traditions and spiritual paths teaches that love is the most powerful force in the universe.
A driving force behind community-oriented rites of passage is to help us as a group remember that love is the most powerful force in the universe. Through these rites of passage, we can guide our children to navigate around the opposing forces of hate, incivility and intolerance so prevalent today and help them choose to direct love out into the universe through compassion and caring.
Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way
as to complete and fulfill them,
for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing
until it embraces the totality of humanity, and all our relations on our sacred earth.
(The Phenomenon of Man (1955) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
Birth - in the presence of love
In the presence of a newborn, many of us feel compassion, nurturance, and love. Rite of passage ceremonies around birth bring people together to experience these feelings and help us remember and re-experience together the power of love.
Weddings – the embodiment of love
“For whenever two or more of you
are gathered in His name
There is love, there is love.”
(Noel Paul Stookey, 1969)
Weddings, another rite of passage, are the embodiment of love manifest in the union of two people. Song lyrics, such as those in "The Wedding Song" (above), are intended to help us remember the power of love.
Funerals – ancient memories of the power of love
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”
Even in death and funerals, the final rite of passage, we remember the love we shared for the deceased. Our tears carry ancient memories of the power of love.
The adolescent’s adaptive brain: oppositionally defiant or an evolutionary asset?
Transitions contain the seeds for opposites to emerge and are times of uncertainty where fear can be manifested in anger that can turn into hate.
What might be possible when we become mindful and respect the full potential within the initiatory process and community-oriented rites of passage?
Adolescents can become partners and help us remember the power of love. Rites of passage can help us nurture the adolescent’s exceptional capacity for adaptation that is emerging within their changing brain. In fact, neuroscientists call the adolescent brain the adaptive brain because it is uniquely designed to challenge the status quo, helping adults reassess whether their existing values and behaviors still serve survival. Some may view this challenging behavior as oppositionally defiant but it actually possesses evolutionary value and serves survival.
Community-oriented rites of passage cherish the adaptive brain of the adolescent as an evolutionary asset. Rites of passage are designed to bring adolescents into conversations with adults to examine the mysteries of the universe and help them find their purpose and place in life.
For adolescents, all human emotions are just beneath the surface. They yearn to experience, understand, and manage and express a wide range of feelings. Adolescents have the potential, through the initiatory process, to help us remember the power of love. If we don’t provide them with the necessary conditions that enable them to remember love and compassion, their opposites - hate and intolerance - are likely to emerge.
My hope for 2016 is that all of us within our shared global community support our children’s transition to adulthood in ways that help them and us remember the power of love.
Wishing you and your families, and all our relations around the globe, a spirited solstice as we in the Northern Hemisphere move out of the darkness and into the light.
May each of you experience many blessings and gather together in peace and love in the New Year!
Still a Troubadour for Peace & Love,
Posted in ROPE
It’t time for a Paradigm Shift – a fundamental change in beliefs, theory and approach – in developing community-centered responses to the challenges faced by today’s Youth & Community. More here>>