Tel Megiddo, also known as Armageddon, is a hilltop located in northern Israel. In ancient times, it was a crossroads for Israel, Egypt and the East. And whoever controlled it controlled the commerce of the world at that time. So the site and the name Armageddon have become synonymous with conflict due to the battles that have occurred there.
While living on an Israeli kibbutz in my 20s, one of our cultural fieldtrips was to explore Megiddo’s ruins. As I stood there, looking out over the surrounding plains of Jezreel, mentioned in scripture as the future site of an end-war, it wasn’t difficult to sense the power that so many people have invested in the site.
Several major religions embrace Megiddo as an important element in their prophecies. Anticipating an end to evil, scriptures foretell that the plains of Jezreel will be the site of humanity’s final battle. The result will be the end of life, as we know it, and the beginning of something new. And only the good, as defined by each doctrine, will remain in the end to inherit the new world.
HOW WE GET IT WRONG
Two mistakes are commonly made in interpreting the warning of Armageddon. One is to externalize responsibility. The other is to cast it in the future.
Scriptures provide metaphors that demonstrate universal principles and in that way become roadmaps for our spiritual growth. They sometimes reference historical events and locations. Even more important is that they always reference us, the readers.
So an effective way to interpret scripture is as if we’re deciphering dream symbols – as if we dreamed the story, and its elements portray specific and personal meaning for us. That means each character, each word and action, each decision and conviction, represents an aspect of us. And our task is to discern what’s being symbolized and what the message could be. In that way, scripture fulfills its purpose as an ever-expanding, energetically alive guidebook, personal and applicable to today’s experiences.
In that light, the battle of Armageddon becomes symbolic of a battle between light and dark forces that occurs within each of us personally. Perhaps it’s also an outer battle yet to be fought in the future. Specifically, it’s an inner battle, taking place within every individual around the globe today – a struggle between love and fear.
WHERE’S MY FRUIT?
Esoteric wisdom tells us that there was a period in prehistory when people were contented living together on earth. And it worked well because the people were confident that, if everything humankind needed to survive on earth weren’t available to us, we wouldn’t have appeared and developed on the planet.
What happened to that utopian experience of contentment and plenty? We’re told that, at some point, two people reached for the same bite of food at the same moment, and one or both experienced a perception that said, “Your interest is in conflict with mine.”
The perception wasn’t valid. Our interests don’t need to conflict, due to the bountiful supply available. All we need to do is reach in a different direction, while knowing that, “My reaching in another direction in support of you is in my own interest, and it assures my well-being as well as yours.”
But the stories tell us that that original misperception of conflicting interests gave birth to a new concept called competition and self-interest. And the thought that followed was, “I must defend myself. I must look out for my interests and compete with yours.”
It was the birth of fear. And in that moment, everything that was manifesting on the globe took up a means of self-protection. Roses grew thorns and bees developed stingers, as plants and animals developed ways of protecting themselves. And humankind has yet to re-establish the knowledge that we’re all one, and that there can be no conflict of interest within a unit of one.
STICKING TO THE HIGH ROAD
A close friend of mine was recently let go, by a company he helped build for more than 25 years. And throughout the process, he sought to maintain his personal standard of integrity, by simply “acting as a gentleman.”
He says that a higher-road choice includes shining a light on a situation and calling it what it is, without blaming or shaming – which has become a kneejerk reaction for many in the current turbulent times. He says that when we attach negative emotion, we’re sucked in, and we lose our independence from the issue. And we become part of the problem, keeping it alive through our energy.
So the goal is to name whatever’s happening factually without getting emotionally involved, so that we can live in the vibe of the solution rather than the problem. And perhaps most importantly, we can maintain our power to create positive change, while allowing a path of healing for “the villain.”
ARMAGEDDON IS NOW
An important part of the Armageddon story is that a beastly character will gain power over the world. And under the spell of Armageddon, we turn into the villain. We look suspiciously at other nations and add millions to defense. We close our borders to outsiders, and even hold them prisoners, to keep our homes and businesses safe. We lose trust in our fellow citizens and buy guns to protect ourselves.
That’s how fear works. It causes us to believe that we have enemies. It fuels our angst and keeps our attention outward, causing us to live in fear of our fellowman. And it keeps us locked inside the prisons of our worry-ridden beliefs and the resulting fear-fantasies.
If fear is already dictating to us whether we feel good or bad, whether we feel loved or rejected, whether we’re contented with our lives or whether we believe we’re victims, we’re already in the battle. And we’re on the wrong side.
If fear can determine whether we feel happy, joyous and alive – in other words, if anyone’s words or actions can cause us to express without love – we’ve lost our connection to our true self, which is intrinsically a loving, caring being.
CHIVALRY ISN’T LOST
When my grandfather passed away at age 86, he had a small card in his wallet that he’d been carrying since his 20s. I have the card now, and although it’s worn and browned from time, the quote by Archer G. Jones is still legible: “There is but one rule of conduct for a man… to do the right thing. The cost may be dear in money, in friends, in influence, in labor, in a prolonged and painful sacrifice. But the cost not to do right is far more dear. You pay in the integrity of your manhood, in honor, in truth, in character. You forfeit your soul’s content. And for a timely gain, you barter the infinities.”
And what is the right thing to do? Right action consistently confirms value, in ourselves and in everyone else. And supporting value means respecting rather than criticizing, accepting rather than judging, and appreciating rather than condemning, at all times, under all circumstances.
Tough stuff for my friend who’s experienced trauma. And seemingly impossible in today’s political culture. So how do we make it happen?
A SENSE OF KNOWING THAT ALL’S GOOD
I’ve attended Firewalk Workshops with Tony Robbins and also with Tolly Burkan who was Tony’s teacher. Over the years, I’ve walked down twelve-foot beds of burning coals eight times. Tolly says that to be successful at walking across the coals, which becomes a metaphor for walking through life, it’s necessary to feel “relaxed, comfortable and confident” and to have “a deep sense of knowing that everything will be all right” – which means dropping any beliefs that life won’t be all right.
When life becomes challenging, there’s always the choice in front of us whether to be negatively affected. That includes preposterous circumstances that seem impossible to understand or endure. We may be knocked down by life and think, “I can’t handle this.” We may need to grieve, or feel disappointment, or retreat from chaos.
But it’s our long-term response that makes the difference. We can keep suffering, by blaming and shaming. Or we can find something valuable in the experience, which is the healing power that will transport us through it.
WE NEED HEROES
Our real power and security comes from knowing that, in a situation where all is lost, “I’ll be all right.” It comes from knowing the value of who we truly are and what we have to give. And we all have something valuable inside us that the world needs.
When we focus our energy in a constructive direction, toward what supports value in others and ourselves, we’re actively contributing to positive change in our lives and in the world. It means being greater than our circumstances, in spite of any reasons to not, which is pretty heroic.
As creative deciders, it’s our choice whether to give someone, who’s acting out the beastly character, control of determining our thoughts, emotions and actions – including when it’s our bosses, neighbors, political figures and complete strangers. And it’s a decision we face moment to moment.
A utopian world of peace and plenty is not something relegated to some far-off heaven. Living in a new world right now could be as simple as choosing to let go of fear, hurt and suffering – and instead to practice contentment and joy, by choosing to live in the vibe of love.
You can read more of Grace de Rond’s posts on her blog at gracederond.com.