The sky is blue and endlessly quiet here in Sweden right now. But I recall the media image of thick dark smoke erupting from the Icelandic volcano and being carried over Europe.
I find myself wondering: where is this volcano right now ? Is it out there in Iceland, or is it in me?
A surprising truth about modern science is that it has not been able to prove the existence of a world out there. Even if I were at the foot of the Island Mountain Glacier right now, seeing the eruption, feeling the wind and smelling the smoke, I could not know for sure that what my sensory organs register, the information they send to the brain and the resulting image put together in my mind are actually what is out there. Other species would perceive this same location in completely different ways according to their nervous system. No one can know what is out there; we can only know what is in here.
I am miles away from the volcano right now under a quiet sky, looking at the Eyjafjallajökull in me. I realize that the way I look at this volcano can not be the same as the way anyone else looks at it. I can only see it from the perspective of everything I am- my memories, expectations, hopes, ideas and experiences, insights, goals in life, temperament, values and areas of interest- and this is true for everyone else. In other words, what we all see is what we are.
Some people may see the erupting volcano as a threat, fearing its effects on their lives, business or property. Some may see it as a punishment connected to secret wrongdoings. Still others may see it as a means to make profit, an entertaining novelty, an exciting subject of research, an object of artistic inspiration or a reason for humorous creativity around its name. There are many ways to look, and they all describe the one who is looking.Wisdom traditions tell us that changing ourselves is the only way to change the world. If I want the Iceland volcano to stop threatening my well being- I will have to start by realizing that I am looking from fear, and the best way to change the situation is to heal my fear of the world and realize that I am part of it and belong together with it. If I see this world as my home, then I will feel safe in it, and I will treat every person, every form of life and every aspect of nature with care and respect. I will let go of the tight identity of a separate individual who needs to fight for survival or impose his will over nature. If I remember that I am at home in the world, I will use my energy in a totally different way, to nourish, connect to and serve the wholeness of life.
If I look at the erupting volcano from such a perspective, I will see a friendly and generous opportunity for cooperation, creativity and renewal for the European continent and the whole planet. The world is in me, and by changing my own awareness, I can create the world I wish to live in.