Mindful Spirit

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To fight is to be a coward.
Retribution is selfishness.

Fear and selfishness are the two most malignant qualities in our society, but the actions that people take out of fear and selfishness are seen as rational, deserved, even courageous.

Take capital punishment or collateral damage as examples.  Instead of recognizing that to live is to suffer –not everything in life is fair, just, or even rational– people have been socialized into thinking that ‘justice’ can be served by harming those who have harmed others.  This is fear and selfishness at their finest.  It is selfishness to think that one deserves revenge –that just because you feel pain, someone or some group of people owe you.  There is no such debt.  It is fear that makes people hostile towards people, it is fear that makes ‘enemies’, and it is selfishness that makes people expect ‘justice’ in the form of revenge.

Harming someone who has harmed others does nothing to rectify the initial harm done.  It does nothing to heal the sadness of the harm done to you.  All it does is foster more hate, hurt, and sadness for the people being harmed in revenge.  As well, it signals to other people that this is an appropriate response; an acceptable path to ‘healing’ and ‘righting wrongs’.  It rights no wrongs.  The only thing that will heal your own pain is to grieve and to find the courage to forgive and to carry on.  Forgiveness is true courage.  It is too easy to strike back; it is difficult to swallow your pride, think lovingly and rationally, and open your heart to the world again.  It can feel nearly impossible to forgive those who have harmed you, and this makes it the most courageous move to make.

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Hate breeds hate and violence breeds violence.  The only way to transcend this cycle is for people to have the courage to break it; to have the courage to lead by example, no matter how painful or devastating this may be.

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Some brilliant, wonderful souls who have led by such an example have been Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama… Non-violent leading by example, no matter how impossible the situation seems –that is courage. There is no honour in taking the coward’s way out.

Fear itself is selfish, it is a self-interested emotion.  People feel afraid when they feel that they will lose something that they imagine belongs to them.  It is ego, in every instance.  Whether they feel they will lose love, their pride, their material possessions, their ‘National honour’, etc., people think of themselves as the centre of their universe.  Clinging to an “I”, a “mine”, they feel fear whenever any part of this image of themselves is threatened.  If there is no “I”, then there is no “mine”.  If there is no “mine”, there is no self-interested pride, no ‘honour to protect’.  There is no reason to feel fear, there is no reason to put up walls, there is no reason to try to ‘settle scores’.  Instead of an all-important “I” or “mine”, there is an “us”, an “everything”.

The Earth is not our home, we’re all just passing through.  Everyone and everything on earth is connected, and to foster a more cooperative society, we need to replace fear and selfishness with love and forgiveness, mindfulness and compassion.

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  • Practice forgiveness, tolerance and lead by example.
  • Practice generosity – material possessions are meaningless. We are energies inside bodies and the Earth is here for a short time; nothing lasts. All there really is is how we relate to one another.  If there is no “I” and no “mine”, then no one needs anything except basic necessities.  Have nothing, give everything. You will find the greatest happiness in making others happy.  No matter what happens to you in your life, true healing comes in helping others to heal; in empathizing rather than putting up barriers and retreating to individualism.  In a world where we gave instead of took from each other, peace and equality would not be so far off.
  • Practice mindfulness – remember, every day, that there is no all-important “you”. Be humble. Put ego aside and see the systems on this Earth as interconnected. Don’t get caught up in the greed and individualism so prevalent around us today, these lead to fear and selfishness to protect individual interests and possessions, which leads to conflict and war.  Give, expect nothing, forgive, be content in the happiness of others.
  • Finally, practice love. Love every bit of every moment of every day. Love everything around you; every object, every animal, every being.  Love the way it feels to be alive.  Love unselfishly; expect no love in return but delight in the act of loving itself. Put others before yourself.  If everyone adopted these values and practices, even slightly, the global community would be that much more utopian.  Day by day, reform yourself and lead others to reform by your humble example.

Nothing lasts. Every new day is another chance to take the world in a new direction.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” -Ghandi

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