re·volt (r-vlt'), origin: French
revolter, to turn round
Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine:
Is there a better role than Revolutionary?
It doesn't get more significant than the motion of the turning of the earth; the earth's revolution around its sun; the sun's revolving about the galaxy, and the galaxy around something altogether too large for our merely human minds to contain.
Fortunately the universe is a lawful place, and the laws that are active in the largest world are also active in our own (almost smallest) level of existence. As the Hermeticists say "As above, so below"—whirling above, whirling below.
Westerners are inclined to ignore the revolutionary nature of existence. We are enamored with straight lines. We build skyscrapers and expressways. We look for the shortest route between points. The Eastern mindset is more oriented to the circular and cyclic conception. These are the believers in reincarnation and the karmic wheel. In their view we go around in temporal circles until, through refinement in the crucible of lives, we are thrown free to compassionately view the great gyre of time. The Easterners aren't in as much of a hurry.
But my purpose isn't to compare cosmologies. I am talking about Revolution. I think we agree that violent overthrow or even demonstration against anything is not true revolution. It is reaction. It is a straight-line view that ignores the fundamental cyclic law of the universe.
Left to its own devices everything inevitably becomes its opposite anyway, so why push the river? Think of Jesus's preaching of love leading to the Inquisition; the Founding Fathers model of a free society culminating in the Bush Regime—there are innumerable examples. Without a conscious influence every process changes course and goes in a converse direction. The insidious thing is that is that the entity that has become its opposite retains its original name. But this is no cause for impatience. Revolution is a turn, not an assault.
Revolution is what a dervish is doing when she whirls; left foot held to the earth; hands raised above her head, receiving, transmitting; head cocked slightly to aim the ear for a heaven-heard word. She becomes a world unto herself. A transmitter in a cosmic medium; a celestial body.
Revolution is what my beloved mother meant when I tested her patience as a child. She said, "You had better turn your head around, Jason."
Revolution is like the motion of a hawk circling on an updraft—a beautiful line described; a larger view achieved.
To revolt against established assumptions is to turn away from conventional values, to transcend them, and turn toward a new world. That new world is not some distant location. It is here, where I am, only larger.
The post-revolutionary paradise is a world in which opposing views are seen as one; where apparently disparate prophets and their religions are understood to arise from the same source; where flawed institutions, like our government and monetary system, are understood to be inherently unsound and unworthy of our attention and concern; where the sense and purpose of our lives is to be an agent of an intelligence higher and more rarefied than our own.
To begin, here's a poem from the Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa, called "The Wind of Peace":
May the great revolutionary banner
Blow in the wind of peace.
May it blow in the wind of karma.
May it blow in the wind of fearlessness.
One's own mind is revolutionized:
There is no need to conquer others.
Like the warriors of ancient times
Going to war by imperial command,
Like seasoned masters of the martial arts,
We will destroy the fortress of erroneous thinking.
We will no longer tolerate the confused way of life
Controlled by the impersonal forces of materialism,
Since these forces may snatch away
The freedom of human dignity.
One must first give up the ego
And enter the war with one's mind.
That is the first step to freedom.
But we will never be free
By following the voice of desire.
Liberation is only gained
By treading the path of what is.