I would love to tell you a glorious story of personal and universal transformation. But here I would rather tell you the truth. That’s the bad news. We all want to change. Most of all we want our mates to change, our parents or children, colleagues, boss, employees to change. We want the economy and education and government to change, and our leaders too, of course…. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget to make these things change for the better–now that we are in charge, or think we are. Too many revolutions just turn things around and revolve back to somewhere similar to where they were. We’re just spinning our wheels. In reality, rather than our fantasies, the illusion of being in control is like having locked your car brakes at a high speed, while driving on a winding, downhill, windy road. Kindly reflect on this. The good news is: We all want something greater, grander, larger than just this World and this life. In one way or another, at some point in our lives I believe we all pursue it, or at least wish we could. It will not serve us to look for truth, reality, God, love, enlightenment, meaning and purpose or even the simple truth about ourselves– in all the wrong places. This perennial pursuit, common to humankind throughout the ages, is the work and play of a lifetime. Myself, I found that connecting to my source, what Buddhists call the groundless ground of being, makes clear my purpose and place in the world and gives meaning and direction to my life. Then it doesn’t matter so much what I’m feeling or doing, what is happening; for everything is a lawful unfolding, grace-full, blessed, a cause for gratitude, reverence and rejoicing–even life’s gritty and hard parts. And we can’t avoid those.
Freedom is a choice. Freedom means to be able to make choices and not just be run ragged by our infernal conditioning. It is hard to step out of our ruts, and to truly change and transform ourselves. Probably it’s better let others do the same, and just accept them as they are-which brings its own transformational magic-and trust that they’ too will step out and make the larger, riskier leap, if and when they feel compelled or simply desperate enough to make the necessary efforts and sacrifices. Unconditional acceptance and appreciation is a vital part of wise and compassionate living; it is one of the most generous and loving gifts one can bring to the world, and the source of great peace.
Buddha said there is nirvanic peace in things left just as they are. Leave it as it is, and rest your weary heart and mind. This would be wise and compassionate, to yourself and to all beings. This is the heart of what Gandhi called ahimsa–nonviolence/non-harming– and living and impeccable life. Thomas Merton pointed out the one of the most basic forms of violence is our inability to be still and quiet, and our busyness and driveness destroys the fabric of much of our lives.
We each must work on ourselves; a life’s work that no one can do for us, but no one can impede either. As the young Dalai Lama says to a Chinese general who reports the liberation of the Tibetan people is under way by the Chairman Mao’s Communist Army, in the fine Scorcese movie Kundun: “General, only I can liberate myself.” This is speaking truth to power.
Often it takes crisis or loss to precipitate a spiritual opening, a renewed interest in looking inwards and seeking deeper rather than just going along in our normal way through life. I call this gaining thru loss, the virtue of adversity, like the labor pains of a spiritual rebirth. The Pearl Principle: With no inner irritation, no pearl of wisdom gets produced within our hardened habitual carapace.