I can't emphasize enough to myself and to those around me that changing the world begins with changing ourselves. The best way, the fastest way, the most efficient way and the most holistic way of creating change around us is by creating change within us. To me THIS IS IT, and I've dedicated my life to my own inner transformation.
At the same time, I have to be careful that my inner movement does not stop me from being involved in the world outside myself. There were times when I misunderstood this truth and used it as an excuse to escape the real world and hide in my inner work.
At first when I started to get involved with spirituality, I had the idea that I could escape life's sufferings. I thought if I meditated enough, I would be able to reach enlightenment and free myself from all the world's pain and suffering. Life and the experiences that were brought to my door were very effective in showing me that becoming a monk was not the path for me, and that I had to engage with life through my relationships, my family, my friendships and my work.
I've realized over the years that my inner work is deeply connected with what's happening all around me and the best way for me to know if I've resolved my inner issues is by looking at my life and learning from the real life challenges I encounter.
This is easy to say, but how do I know if I need to heal myself or take action to heal the world?
When I look at what's happening around the world, I feel a deep discomfort with the way governments are responding to what's occurring. I ask myself if I need to, or want to, protest against the injustice and the rights that are being taken away from civilians. Should I be fighting against the restrictions that have been put into place, preventing people from working and making a living, preventing us from exercising the basic rights and freedoms that I believe we all should have? Should I fight against police brutality and racism? Should I spend my time and energy writing and fighting against all the injustices that are taking place right now in the world?
The answer that comes to me is no. This is not easy to say out loud since most people aren't as privileged as I, and with my privilege, I can afford not to protest or fight.
Yet still my answer is no. I don't want to, need to, or have to protest right now, and although some people will tell me that I'm being selfish and not supportive of the changes that need to happen, I still choose to focus my energy elsewhere.
So if I don't protest, how do I help?
What can I do to make the world a better place?
How do I create the change I want to see in the world around me?
The truth is, I don't know. I might discover a month from now that the best thing to do will be to protest. I might discover that I need to buy land and create an alternative way of living in the future that await us. I might need to continue what I'm doing to develop my practice and to create a healing school that will teach as many people as possible to do their own inner work. I might choose one of many more directions that might open up to me.
What I do know is that I have made a commitment to myself to do what feels good. Whatever choice I make, even if it's intended to make the world a better place, it has to be a choice that also feels good to me.
We are in a time in history with the most privilege we've ever had, and with that privilege I urge you to DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Not because you're being selfish, but because this is the best thing you can do for the world right now. Go inward, and do the inner work, find out what in your life doesn't serve you and doesn't feel good anymore, and if you can allow yourself to stop doing it - then stop! If you can't stop, work towards a time when you can do the fewest things as possible that don't feel good to you.
So if protesting feels good to you - DO IT!
If you feel frustrated and angry and by constantly fighting the system you're drained and helpless - then STOP!
DO WHAT FEELS GOOD!
Today I choose to write, to share my ideas, to take good care of myself and listen to what feels good in each moment. What feels good today may not feel good tomorrow, so I have to keep tuning in to that inner voice that whispers yes when I'm on the right path.
The joy and happiness in your life are barometers showing you again and again, if you're on the right path. If you're doing something that makes you feel good - keep doing it, and find ways to do it more. If you're doing something that makes you feel bad - it's a sign that something needs to change. Stop being so hard on yourself, and stop thinking you've done something wrong. Just ask yourself, “How can I live my life so that I can do as few of the things as possible that don't feel good and as many of the things as possible that feel really good?”
Will that really change the world? The government? The climate? The needs of the poor and the weak?
I’m not sure how my actions will affect all those things, but I do know that I can start by taking full responsibility over my own life. The responsibility to stop lying to myself and others. The responsibility to be careful about what I consume, be it food or air or news or people. The responsibility to make sure I'm not hurting the people around me. And the responsibility to make sure I'm not hurting myself.
Who knows what kind of butterfly effect that will bring? It's definitely worth a try.