Sometimes it’s painful to look out from the comfort of my little life into our messy world.
The struggle, the suffering, the interconnectedness and the failure of society, generates feelings of hopeless overwhelm within me. I don’t know how to fix the problems of the world, the problems of my country or even the problems of my community.
Some days, it’s all I can do to fix myself and my little patch of the earth. I watch and participate in many paradoxes—the cycles of our world that just confuse everything again and again and again.
I see people going to churches and temples talking about prayer and nobility on Sundays while living the rest of their days with a lack of personal integrity and without exchanges of loving-kindness.
We walk through our days focused, driven and ambitious while the needs of our neighbors and fellow earth travelers often go unnoticed.
We use plastics, chemicals and the earth’s precious resources to create giant blue recycle bins—hurting the earth in order to try and save it.
We talk of God, spirit, hope, joy, peace and happiness, making buildings to help us find it, writing books to each other with all the ways that might work and then we only give access to those who meet the criteria.
I’ve meditated in a beautiful temple, on wonderful cushions, in an incredible sacred space, while just outside the Temple’s doors homeless people were searching for basic things like food and shelter. It’s all a mess—and still perfect at the same time.
I know what I have to do—I have to cultivate my own garden, over and over and over again.
Whenever I deviate from this, each and every time, I end up hopeless and empty. I work hard now at this practice, day in and day out, doing everything I possibly can to take care of myself, and anyone else I can find, trying never to look up and get overwhelmed. Instead, I pour everything I’ve got into whoever is in front of me and remember, I just need to do what I can, when I can, with whatever means I’ve got.
I must admit, I often wonder…what if?
What if we all paused, if we stopped this madness, broke the cycle, remembered what really mattered?
What if I treated everyone I met with the same nobility I seek? What if the love I gave was as unconditional as the love I seek?
What if I used less and gave even more? What if we all did?
“What if our religion was each other, if our practice was our life and if prayer our words? What if the temple was the earth, if forests were our church and if holy waters were the rivers, lakes, and oceans? What if meditation was our relationships, the teacher was life and wisdom was knowledge? What if love was the center of our being?”
~ Ganga White
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Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu/ Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photos: elephant archives