Overcoming Starts Within Ourselves
This is a column on spiritual development. The word “spiritual” includes a person’s views and actions on public affairs. As Gandhi once said, “Those who think religion has nothing to do with politics do not understand religion.”
I am writing on Tuesday evening when Charlottesville and all that followed are still the topics of the day. Of course climate change should be the topic of today and all days until we address it but here we are.
I would like to share with you how a person might transform this situation from within him (or her) self. Obviously what happened is repugnant and the President’s manner of addressing it deeply regrettable. Insofar as we are spiritual people – and we are in fact spiritual people having a human experience – we do not need to identify with our angry feelings toward the White Nationalists, the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists or our disappointment with the President’s reaction. They are feelings, valid in their moment, but not of the essence of who we are. So how does a person of spirit proceed?
First, we deal with ourselves. Losing our peace of mind while raging at all things “Charlottesville” gets us nowhere. The first thing I am doing is sending Loving Kindness to myself. It’s an ancient practice from Buddhism in which I say “May I be filled with Loving Kindness, May I be well, May I be peaceful and at ease, May I be happy.” It is an excellent way to soothe the savage beast within.
Next I send Loving Kindness to the young woman who was killed and the two officers who died. Next I send Loving Kindness to the all the Right Wing people who were responsible for organizing or participating in this event including the driver of the homicidal car. Finally I send it to the President. It does not mean I agree with them. I do not. It means I recognize that they are human beings connected with me in the great energetic web of life and it means I believe that the only way they will be transformed is by the power of love which I doubt they have received much of in their lives. Regardless though of what it does for them, sending them Loving Kindness is healing for me. It stretches my heart in the direction of forgiveness.
I send them Loving Kindness both to heal myself of rage and judgment and to heal them energetically of egocentrism, disregard for truth and for racial hatred. It’s a step in the right direction. Will it succeed? As Mother Teresa said, “I am not called to succeed; I am called to be faithful.”
Only after all this spiritual practice do I place my oar in the waters of the body politick. Only then do I write a letter, sign a petition, phone a call-in show, visit a Congressman, participate in a demonstration or write a Wise Guyde column. It does not mean that I do not express anger. It does mean that I am not the anger; I am the one observing my own anger which means it comes out in a constructive manner
Let me close with another quote from Gandhi, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
Bill O’Brien is a Consciousness Coach in Shepherdstown. O’Brien’s writing and coaching can be found at www.billobrienconsciousnesscoaching.com.