Become The Change

Fighting the system to “fix” (or resurrect) it, is the same as fighting over who gets the tenderloin steak off a dead and rotting cow. For many of you I am sure this will be an extremely radical statement. But if that system led us to the morass of greed and evil in which we are today, wouldn’t it be better to step aside while it collapses and help lead society toward a better paradigm, based more on caring about others than about squeezing the last penny out of some useless consumer product? —Dan and Sheila Gendron, Don’t Fight The System

Last night, my family was returning home from watching the latest Bond film, Skyfall. We love going out, but we are always distressed by the hyper, and soul-less energy that surrounds us everywhere. Standing on the platform were a group of hyper young adults. I motioned for us to move to another car so we would not have to endure the cacophony on our ride home. But then it dawned on me—that no amount of complaining will ever have an affect on the world around me. This has been a repeated thought of late. That all the political and environmental dialogue, we have, criticizing those who are not onboard with our opinions, will ever have any positive influence at all. All of the political contention over the elections was somehow superfluous. And somehow knowing that was a very freeing idea. I do not have to spend one ounce of energy casting a hairy eyeball at those who seem  to have signed on hook, line and sinker to the contemporary vacuous culture. I can just sit back, relax, and let them flail their way into deeper non-existence.

It is very hard not to be part of a system, when I live in the heart of a busy urban area. In truth, I am not trying to unplug myself externally, but internally. My quest is to understand what real inner freedom can mean. But rather than talking about it, some action is needed.

This is the purpose of meditation. To have this one period of time, usually early in the day, to work towards becoming more still. The first thing any meditator learns is that the opposite is true. Inside me all kinds of conflicts are at work. If I examine them closely—this river of subconsciousness—then I will see that all this inner material has been supplied courtesy of my parents, my teachers, my friends, my television set and just about everything else I have come into contact with over the past 57 years. To become free of this “river” one needs to slowly become acquainted with another movement. One that does not emanate from the same place. Its source is of a higher nature. Call it God, Buddha, nature, or the endless universe—the higher nature is that which is already formed. My work is to create a relationship with it. And this means becoming more aware of what my “lower” is.

Through all my reading and coming into contact with activists of all types, I feel that this is the essential question that is missing. Jacob Needleman points this out in his latest book, The Unknown World; Notes on the Meaning of Earth. He regards the Earth as a being. That beyond all the great pundits like Bill McKibben or Van Jones, people who care deeply for the present and future of this planet, there is the question that “I am a representative of the earth.” Do I treat myself with the same disregard I see around me?  In order for a change to happen in my surroundings, it is the fundamental relationship with myself that is in question, and may hold the key to any real and lasting transformation to my being, and therefore, my environment.

So it has become ever clearer to me, as I sit on the subway, or walk down the street, watch a film at the cinema, or eat in a restaurant, as I gape at the surrounding behavior of my fellow humans—that no amount of inner or outer complaining will ever have any foreseeable effect on them whatsoever. Never, ever, ever. So I can stop wasting my time and my energy trying to imagine that my radical mode of thinking is all that important. It is merely the hat I enjoy wearing.

To speak through my art, my music, and the continued struggle to nurture this inner relationship is what gives my life purpose and hope. This is my prayer for the day.

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