We live in extremely dangerous times, where elementary wisdom seems to be lost. It doesn’t matter if you are religious, spiritual or atheistic. We can all agree that certain social mindsets are beneficial to the majority.
Hate, disharmony and war bring nothing positive to the human condition. They create destruction and harm that linger for decades beyond. It is only through acts of love, understanding and compassion, even to those we are conditioned to distrust, that social progress is bound to manifest. In Buddhism, it is taught that we see all sentient beings as our mothers. Only through exemplifying these qualities can we hope to lead others to see the benefits and to bring about profound, positive social changes.
This is not hokey boloney! Of course, there will always be contrasting positions and conflicts of ideology. But, how we choose to deal with such differences is up to us. The military option is not always the right option. More often than not, it exacerbates disputes and causes far greater disharmony and suffering.
We cannot rely upon our leaders to lead correctly, so we must all contribute by being positive forces for good in the world, regardless of our positions in society. We might just be a splash individually, but together we can be an ocean of change.
What is in the realms of fantasy is the continuation of disregarding the poorest and neediest in society, while the rich get wealthier and the banksters get off without repercussions for their crimes. Enough is enough! Fairness, compassion and true responsibility for each other is not an extreme idea, it is the best idea for our survival as a species. Greed destroys and animalistic self-centered interests obliterate communities.
Civilisation, the very definition of social cohesiveness and coordination, is based upon our willingness to step beyond the needs of the individual and to learn to work as a collective for the greater good. This is social evolution.
We are trapped within a variety of cages of complexity and ideas, to which some of us will remain forever shackled. Each cage is uniquely finessed for each inmate. Some are permitted to look out beyond the bars of their cage. Others have a dark curtain draped over their cage. Some have no bars on their cage, but stay within it, regardless. Others are chained to the cage, but have stepped outside of it, afraid to step back in. Occasionally, there are those who fly freely within and outside of the cages. And the rare ones get to soar beyond the room of cages itself towards complete, immaculate liberation…
We are each unique configurations in which consciousness expresses itself. Consciousness is without definition, but is shaped by form, just as water is shaped by the geography of a river it passes through. The differences and sense of separation are illusory, as water always remains water, consciousness always remains consciousness.
I just scrolled through all my posts on Facebook the past few days, and I felt sad. There is so much unnecessary cruelty in the world. I try my best to bring awareness, so that people with voices will speak out. We all have to speak out! Enough violence! Enough abuse of the planet! Enough greed! Enough hate! Enough war! Enough prejudice! Enough! Enough! Enough!
Unless you have been anaesthetised, I think we all share in a very palpable fear that we, as humans, have not made the best decisions for our future. There is both an equal amount of frustration, apathy and confusion that is clouding us from making the bold decisions that we need to make, to bring a future suitable for our grandchildren. There is no time to lose, and we need to be firm in our commitment to each other, regardless of creed, to build bridges between those we feel do not understand us. We must be self-aware and see our own mistakes equally to the mistakes we see in others. We must all accept that we are flawed, but there is always another sunrise upon which to build an improved, better world.
Vision, compassion and wisdom are not some folksy terminology: They are paramount expressions of noble human activity. ACTIVATE THEM!
Unless we know something to be 100% true or 100% untrue, it is better to be open-minded, neither believing nor non-believing, but always curious and asking questions. It makes for a much more interesting life, allowing an engagement with the magic of mystery to manifest.
Let me also add, that I have no interest or business trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking about anything. I certainly am not arrogant enough to think that my thoughts are any more right than someone else’s. We are all on our individual journeys, trying to get through life, as well as understand it. The conclusions we reach are ours alone.
In the process of change comes uncertainty. For some, this is a positive opportunity for development, progress, creativity and fresh ideas. For others, it produces anxiety, disturbance and fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. Those who fear change will try to do whatever they can to retain the status-quo they feel most comfortable in. The reality is that this is pointless and in contrast to a universe that is in constant flux. Nothing remains the same.
It is far better to accept the inevitability of change, whether it be in society or the leaves on a tree, or even the eventuality of death. The processes of birth, decomposition and renewal are all about us daily to observe and learn.
Likewise, holding onto myths of nationalism, ethnicity and so on, to the point where violence is even applied to protect them, is folly behaviour in extreme. It is like trying to retain the petals of a flower in a typhoon: The inevitable will happen, whether we like it or not. Change will come, and we had best learn to adapt and flow with it, rather than to resist.
Granite is a strong natural material, but over time, it will be reduced to nothing. As an ancient proverb says, it is better to be bamboo that bends in the wind, rather than bamboo that does not.
Great wisdom tells us repeatedly that concepts of “I”, “you”, “we”, “they” are irrelevant. They are illusory and divide us, creating frictions where there should be none. We need to get past labels of differentiation and move towards what unifies us and what cultivates our awareness of our shared humanity. Only together can we overcome the very serious threats that we share, such as global warming, poverty, war and famine.
To be truly compassionate is to see ourselves in others.
Whilst sitting with my Zen Master, something suddenly occurred to me:
Human life is exactly like a leaf on a tree. In Spring, it buds into existence. In Summer, it reaches its full potential, bright and green. In Autumn, it begins to lose it’s vibrancy, turning brown and falling to the ground below. In Winter, it decomposes and becomes one with the earth again.
This metaphor is perhaps obvious, but the difference is in how a human life and a leaf go through these changes. A leaf is without consciousness, and passes through the process of existing, very, very quietly and being what it simply is. Humans, by contrast, manifest great anguish as we grasp desperately to what will inevitably be lost. If only we could remain silent like a leaf, being the thing as it is, with the sweet clarity of Truth and without the grandiose delusions of self.
Photography by El-Branden Brazil