by Kabir Helminski

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war torn countries, Beirut and Paris ripped by terror, demagogues responding to the lowest instincts of the populace… Amidst what seems like a cacophony of voices, of arbitrary violence, of staggering hypocrisies, we have to keep our hearts intact. On Friday I was at a local mosque for the weekly congregational prayer. A guest Imam was giving a rousing sermon, and we all know what a disturbing time Muslims are passing through. The gist of the sermon was that Islamophobia has always been present, that every prophet who came to the world faced challenges, and that Muslims should realize they are being tested. Furthermore, we should not let the extremists define our religion for us. The imam was addressing a community made up almost entirely of immigrants, when he said, “We came to this country because of its laws, and we are not the enemy of this country, or of any country.” He was addressing a community of people whose Muslim identity is one of their main objects of concern, especially in the face of so much misunderstanding and distortion. I happily stand with them and support them, and I stand, as well, with another community that I call “the custodians of consciousness.”

There are certain reminders that I’ve learned to trust in order to sustain my own emotional balance, fortitude, and goodwill toward a humanity that sometimes seems to be lost in darkness.

Stand with the custodians of consciousness. A certain portion of humanity has always been present, a powerful minority, whose level of consciousness is relatively free of the biases, superstitions, jealousies, and self-righteousness that enslave so much of humanity. These custodians are the mystics, the gnostics, the peacemakers, the wise whose hearts and minds are less contaminated with the toxins of human egoism. The custodians of consciousness are increasing in number; let’s recognize and support each other.

Keep your spirits up. No matter how dark it may seem, the light is growing. For instance, deaths by war and oppression during the previous century were estimated at 203 million ( Despite the horrors of the present moment, the human situation is improving. Do not be too shocked at the obliviousness of so many beings. Keep a sense of humor, and keep your heart open.

Be humble in your beliefs. All human formulations are tentative. Even if the divine sometimes enters the sphere of human language, through revelation, or even literature, our own understanding has its limitations and idiosyncrasies. Be grateful for the metaphysical awareness you have, the experience of your own soul, the levels of consciousness that sometimes free you of your own egoism, the possibility of the continued growth of awareness, and the peace that passeth all understanding.

And finally:

There’s only us. One human family. All the “children of Adam (and Eve)”. Or as Baraka Blue wrote in a recent FaceBook post: All I’m really saying is that this “us” vs. “them” has got us in the situation we are in. We have to see everyone as “us.” And we have to start with “us”. If we blame “them” we have already lost. We will never be safe until everyone in this global village is our family. Until everyone is “us.” France is us and Palestine is us and Ferguson is us and Mali is us. I believe in us and I love us but I weep for us for what we do to us in the name of us.