Journey to Harmony


Harmony is a state of consciousness.  We cultivate harmony when we embrace a common vision, when we cooperate and support each other, when our thoughts, feelings, and values are reciprocal.  Harmony is a resonance of the parts with each other and with the whole.  In music harmony is created through the creation of chords where notes played together augment each other and progress together.  When we are in harmony with each other, there is cohesion, coherence, congruence, balance, reciprocity, and symmetry in our expression. 

Opposite States of Consciousness:  Discord, Cacophony, Dissonance, Noise, Fragmentation, Tumult, Incoherence, Disturbance, Asymmetry, Lack of connection of the parts to each other and to the whole, Inability to support or complement each other, Conflict, Argument, Disagreement, Stalemate, Deadlock, Polarization.  Individuals either complete with each other for control or go their own way. Disconnection, Separation, and Divorce result.

The Teaching

Without harmony there is little beauty in life.  We are not able to work together to create a society that supports all of us. There is no fidelity to family, community, country or humanity.  Without a shared vision, all that remains are self- serving thoughts, words and actions that emphasize our differences and pull us in opposing directions.  This creates a kind of social deadlock where nothing positive gets done.  Conflict, fighting, disagreement and distrust prevail.   The center is lost.  The poles wobble as they move further and further apart.
     Such a society has no order or coherence.  The parts do not support the whole.
Individuals live in survival mode and organizations become dysfunctional.  There is a tearing down of social connections and alliances that have brought safety and prosperity to all.  The safety net falls apart.   The elderly and the handicapped are forsaken.  The rich become richer and the poor become poorer.  The divide between religions and political parties widens.  People are vilified, libeled, persecuted and abused so that others can stay in power.  Might trumps right. People are imprisoned for speaking up.  Humanistic values are trashed. Works of art and culture are destroyed. 
    All this comes from lack of harmony, from the inability of the individual to find equality with others and take his rightful place in a world that offers safety and dignity to all.   Once the body of the republic starts fighting for its life, no president, premiere, emperor or strong man can slow the anger of the people or stop the flow of blood and tears. When the body of Christ falls apart, and children are sacrificed at the altar, no Pope can restore the integrity of the Church.  As William Butler Yates write: “Things fall apart the center cannot hold.” 
     The challenge of course is to rebuild the center, to rediscover and consecrate the shared vision, to rally around a truth that we all can accept and fight for. When we are so far apart, so polarized, so at odds with each other, that seems a daunting task, yet that is our only hope. 
     The individual must make peace with his brother or sister.  They must find common ground, even though there are some things they cannot agree on.  It is not necessary for everyone to sing the same note.  We can go up or down a third and find a supportive note.  Together we can create harmony and achieve a depth and richness that none of us could achieve alone.  If we learn to sing together, we will not go off to war against each other.  
     I have always said, let the enemies meet in the same hot tub and they will have a better chance of making peace than they do over the negotiating table.  They might even go out for a beer and sing a few rowdy songs together.  I think that is what Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan did, is it not?  
    Jesus came up with the radical idea that we could learn to love our enemies.  Have we forgotten that? 
     If that is too much to ask, we can start with mutual respect.  That is a baby step toward love.  We cannot make peace in this world if we are unwilling to respect each other and treat each other as equals.
    If we want resonance and harmony we will have to go our part to join together with others and build a chord, or a progression of chords.  We will have to learn to play in the same orchestra. 
     A good orchestra will find a good conductor.  It is only a matter of time.  But even the best conductor will have a hard time turning a bad orchestra around.  For now, even with elections coming, we should not focus on who will lead us out of the disorder and cacophony of the moment.  We should focus on how we can create harmony in our own lives.
     Top down approaches do not work, especially in a democracy.  In a democracy the power has to come from the people.  The people need to learn to respect each other and play together.   When they find harmony, their leader will emerge.

The Practice

Today, don’t be afraid to sing your own note, but listen also to the notes that others sing.  See if you can create harmony.  Don’t go out of your way to focus on how you are different from others, or how your note is better than theirs.  That will only isolate you.  Instead, find common ground.  Identify common needs. Develop a shared vision.   Allow your note to resonate with the notes that others sing.
     Harmony is achieved through cooperation and mutual support. It cannot be achieved through a solo journey.  Today, please do not sing a sour note by seeking attention only for yourself.  Invite others to sing with you. Be open to the contributions others can make.   Find a way to discover that you are stronger and richer together than you are apart.
     Today, don’t try to be in charge.  Don’t try to be a conductor.   What good is a conductor without an orchestra?  Get down off your podium and pick up an oboe or a flute. Join the orchestra.  Learn to play together.  
     Today is not about you only.  It is about you as a member of a community. You have something important to contribute, but so do others.  Find your equality with others so that cooperation can be built upon a foundation of mutual respect.  Today is not about what you can achieve alone.  Today is about what you can achieve in concert with others.
     Today find harmony in your relationships.  Don’t polarize or take extreme positions.  Find the center, the middle ground.  Today, give up separate agendas, go beyond ego needs, and fixed beliefs.  Find where you meet. 
     Rumi said: “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.” Today, meet in that field where you are an equal with your partner, your child, your friend, your co-worker.  See beyond appearances.  Meet face to face.  In that resonant field, there is peace and harmony.  There is ecstatic union.
     We spend most of our lives trying to individuate, trying to believe in ourselves and express our unique skills and talents. That is a worthy and necessary journey. But that is only one part of our purpose.  We are not here just to play alone.  We are here to learn to play together.
     Part one is “Be Yourself.”  How can you be anything else?  You cannot be what someone else wants you to be.  You cannot be defined by the needs and expectations of others.  You need to find your own unique path.
     But part two is equally important.  Part two is “Learn to play with others.”
Learn to join together and cooperate in common cause. Support a vision that is larger than yourself and learn to play your part with humility and sincerity.
     What is your common cause today?   Who are the people you are asked to cooperate with?  What is the vision you share and what contribution is being asked of you?
     Yes, today be yourself and sing your own note.  But also be with others and learn to sing together.  Learn to support and complement each other. Be a committed and passionate member of your family, your community, your country and your world. 

Journaling Questions

When have you been able to cooperate and live in harmony with others? When has your need to be in charge prevented you from experiencing harmony in your interactions with others?

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