Radical Renewal


Mindfulness meditation and related contemplative practices are pervading the culture, and that’s a wonderful thing! As more and more people in various communities learn to practice well; as they learn how to acknowledge and transform their suffering, their whole community will benefit. If equanimity comes to define the character of enough people, the entire culture may be radically renewed.

We need to lay claim to our personal sovereignty; to our bequest of unassailable solidity, clarity, and lucidity. We’ve all known people who seem permanently on edge; they’re like a powder keg awaiting a single spark. Many of us probably know what it is to be that person. Just spending time with people suffering in this way can be unnerving and exhausting. The energy they exude is that of a landmine that may detonate upon the most subtle of triggers. It’s probably safe to say that most meditation practitioners want to avoid spreading such psychic poisons. As usual, mindful awareness transforms everything everything on which it shines.

When the energy of mindfulness is at our command, we are able to bring all our intelligence, creativity and compassion to any of the conflicts that inevitably arise among human beings. People with whom we have been in conflict for some time may respond quite differently to us if we practice bringing our best selves to the fore. Maybe, before we knew how to practice well, we were widely perceived as a kind of war waiting to happen. If we hadn’t yet focused our full  awareness on our words, our tone, and our body language, we may have unconsciously brought the energy of warfare to the situation. But now that we’ve had a successful peace summit inside our own heads, we’re no longer at war with ourselves; now we can bring a radically different sort of energy to bear.

I’m convinced that societies can be transformed quite naturally. When we have enough people walking around fully aware of their solidity and strength, warfare between among them will be considerably less likely to erupt.

There are things worth fighting for, of course. In fact, some things we must fight for if we’re to maintain our fidelity to our compassionate ideal. But if we’re calm, firmly rooted, and defined by equanimity, we may be able to fight for social justice in a way that doesn’t look like fighting at all. If we employ all of our intelligence, listening skills, and clarity of expression, our “battles” may be bloodless and our victories secure.

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