My partner gave me this painting from artist David Thornberry for Christmas. It's taken from Star Trek: The Original Series' third season, an episode entitled "Spectre of the Gun". In that episode, the Enterprise trespasses into the territory of an alien species, who put captain and crew to the test in a re-creation of the 1881 shootout at the OK Corral.
Facing imminent death, Mr. Spock realizes the truth: nothing is real. A tranquilizer that should work, doesn't. Imaginary guns that should have no effect, can kill. The illusions only have power when the mind gives them power.
And so, with the assistance of Mr. Spock's Vulcan mind meld, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott know this illusion to be harmless, and the "bullets" at the shootout pass right through them.
For many of us, 2017 felt like a shootout. The daily barrage of news pierced us. Personal challenges seemed more ominous against the backdrop of violent world events and vile politics.
2018 can be different.
What if we called into question what we know to be real? What if the daily "bullets" weren't so solid?
I'm not suggesting that we ignore or minimize what is happening. But what if we questioned our fixed stories that we believe to be absolute truth? What if we called into question the mind that generates those stories?
The pain of daily life and the angst of our political era are what they are. Shit happens. It's the mind's commentary on those events that is arbitrary. It's our belief in the mind's creations that limits our freedom when we turn its commentary into rigid truth. It's our unquestioned loyalty to those rigid truths that exacerbates personal suffering and interpersonal strife.
In 2018, we will once again face perils, internal and external. The external perils call us to respond as people of goodwill, faith, compassion, and courage.
The internal challenge is subtler yet just as exciting. We can see thoughts as apparitions. They come and go but have no inherent substance. We are free to believe or disbelieve them, act on them or ignore them.
And in that place of doubt and unknowing, a deep Knowing is recognized. Whether we call it Wisdom, Life, or the Sacred, it's the beginning point of wisdom, and the genesis of all freedom.
From that Awareness, the mind is seen for what it is: a generator of specters: some valid...some not, all transitory. And for just a moment, an hour, or, if we're fortunate, chunks of a new year...we know the Truth, and we are set free.