There’s a Chinese proverb that claims that with patience an orchard can be turned into jam!
I wonder if the idea of making men peaceful, one at a time and then adding it all together to create a race opposed to self-destruction is even possible?
Whether its possible or not, in truth there is no available alternative other than individual inner transformation.
Years back, tormented by severe anxiety and a racing mind that just would not shut up, I was suffering deeply. I decided to take up meditation to help calm myself and slow down. Unfamiliar and alien to the concept of a quiet mind, I sat pretending upon my cushion day in and day out, simply following the guidance I had received in my classes. I really wasn’t sure of what I was doing.
Overtime I learnt to quiet my racing mind and control my anxiety in most circumstances. I still suffer, sometimes deeply, from time to time but I recognize what is happening and I’m able to change my course.
I have to admit that the work that I have put in is far from over and it will probably take a few lifetimes before I’m enlightened :-)
However, as a result of meditation, the most surprising revelation to me has been, that with concentrated effort the hardest to shake off beliefs and counter productive conceptions that I had about my self and my life can be changed forever.
To those who are skeptical I would ask that you simply observe your mind for a few moments without judgment or interference. You are likely to find a stream of thoughts and emotions that flow through. You will notice that though internally things are constantly changing you might be holding onto the belief in the existence of a self that is definitive and stable.
This clinging is what causes us to often react in short sighted and selfish ways that can also be very harmful.
Cultivation of contemplative sciences enables one to let go of the most stubbornly held destructive ideas and notions. A sieve like mind that simply allows concepts to flow through improves the quality of life and our interactions with others.
As a result, the angry aunt, the cynical cousin, the critical elder, the racist bus driver will continue to bother you but compassion can be extended quiet easily as you recognize their clogged and clustered mind states that blocks the renewing experiences of peace and love.
Unfortunately contemplative practices cannot be externally enforced. Internal transformation is slow, hard and challenging work that takes decades to bear fruit.
Science while improving life has proved insufficient in enlarging our sense of wellbeing. Force and violence can keep the dark and unexamined aspects of our lives contained only for a while. Detailed recording of history, its instruction, religions, advancement in technology have not been successful in establishing structural changes in our psyche.
Be it the heartless extermination of the Jewish people during the World War, the senseless slaughter that plagued the varied communities in Bosnia, the still hard to comprehend extermination forces that acted out in Rwanda or the atrocities in modern day Syria, what we encounter time and again is everyday humans who have simply lost all points of references.
It is perhaps time to give the softer arts of contemplation and inner transformation a place and a fair chance in civilized worlds before we run amok destroying each other.
In my mind, of all the fears both real and imagined to which we have gotten habitually reactional, the only one that threatens life itself is the complete erosion of love and compassion. Power hungry regimes, rulers and leaders cannot enable us. Change, can be brought about only by ordinary, everyday people.