I think it is obvious that our planet Earth and its inhabitants are not all feeling the same amount of blessings of God and of the Universe. Some of us seem to be getting a bigger share of the blessings than others. We in the USA are blessed with material abundance, yet we are lacking in other ways -- lack of time, community, and spiritual connection. It is true, that every country has their challenges just as every person has their challenge -- their "monster" to tame, whether that monster is external (in the case of war and famine) or internal (in the case of addiction, depression, self-hatred).
We all have our life lessons. Yet, I can't help feel that the greatest of these lessons, actually perhaps the only lesson, is to learn to love. To love and bless everyone -- whether they are black, white, American, Canadian, Iranian, Israeli, Palestinians, Pakistanis, Australian, British, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, gay, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.
Our greatest lesson is to love everyone for the spark of Divine creation that we all are. Whether we choose to call the creative force God, Allah, Jehovah, Universe, All That Is, The Force -- a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The name doesn't matter. What counts is our common beingness -- our attitude, our energy, our thoughts, our actions.
We are all living in the same home -- a big house called planet Earth. And when some of its residents are busy digging out the foundations of the house, others are splattering it with mud, and others are letting the toilets back up, we know that life will eventually become untenable for all the inhabitants of that house.
Our house is big, so it has taken us more time to notice that some of the more sneaky and greedy kids in our family have been creating havoc. Some of them have been messing with the pantry -- taking good food and modifying it into well-preserved "something" (is it still food when it is mostly composed of chemicals, preservatives, and modified genes?). Some of the other members of our family are busy throwing bombs in the rooms of the other kids; some kids are stealing the toys of the others, or in other cases taking their food and rooms away from them.
So what do we do when the members of our household run amuck? Well, praying only for ourselves and not for them is not the solution. If we want to be blessed with peace and well-being, we will only experience those blessings when everyone in our household is experiencing peace and well-being. After all, it's hard to feel at peace when some of the kids are constantly stealing your things, or throwing raw wet mud pies into your room, or constantly harassing you.
Once we understand that the well-being of others directly affects our well-being, maybe we can start wishing well to everyone -- whether we like them or not. We must look into our hearts and desire blessings for everyone -- not just for ourselves.
Liking people has nothing to do with wishing them well. Perhaps the person we dislike so much, if that person had received abundant blessings of love, support, and comfort throughout their life, would have turned out much different -- maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't be carrying around all that anger and frustration at the world. Perhaps the person who became a thief, a killer, a terrorist, an arsonist, would be a completely different person had they not been raised in anger, fear, hunger, poverty. Now I know that doesn't make their actions "right" -- but it can lead us to have compassion for them and seek a solution, rather than focus on punishment. Hatred will breed more hatred, not peace.
We don't know what the world would be like if everyone lived the teachings of Jesus (and Buddha, and Mohammed, etc.) because it's never been done. Jesus said "Love thy neighbor as thyself". Buddha: "Hate is never conquered by hate. Hate is conquered by love." Mohammed: "Requite evil with good and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend." While we have received the teachings over and over again from many different sources, humanity has yet to put them into practice.
We do know however what the other attitude (the "me" before "you" attitude) has wrought -- it has brought us inequality, hatred, thirst for revenge, hunger, poverty, and more. We know that the way the world has been going for centuries (nay, millennia) has not brought us "heaven on earth". It has brought us a living hell -- the fear of, and experience of, war, bombs, murders, rapes, etc.
The way we have been doing things hasn't worked. What's the old saying? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result." We keep throwing more bullets and hatred and money at a problem, and expect it to get better. That's like throwing germs and garbage into an open wound and expecting it to heal.
This week (this month, this year) let's start sending energies of peace and healing and loving compassion to the whole planet -- to every single inhabitant of the planet.
It's easy, it's quick. Just close your eyes and think of the planet Earth. See that in your mind's eye. Then direct your feelings and energies of love, healing, prosperity, joy, and compassion towards that whole ball of life -- and everything and everyone on it. It can be done in a second or two, or you can extend it as long as you wish.
Do it once a day, or every now and then. Connect it with another activity. Every time you go to the water cooler to get a drink of water, or every time you go to the bathroom, or every time you hang up the phone. Make it part of your routine. It's easy, quick, and power-full.
Most of the big changes in The United States (the end of slavery, women's right to vote, end of war in Vietnam) have taken place when only 1% of the population stood up for change. We can be a part of the 1% that turns around the energy on the Planet we call home. Let us stop doing the same old thing over and over again expecting new results. Let's try something different. I know this is not a new concept, but, it is one whose time has come.
The hundredth monkey theory states that when enough of us start doing something, a change will "magically" take place. When one hundred of us start doing something, then others will start doing the same thing -- without having seen or heard of what we are doing. Will you be that hundredth monkey?
Let's ask God/Goddess/All That Is to bless everyone -- not just the Unites States of America -- whether we feel they "deserve it" or not. Let's open our heart and wish that everyone on the planet experience the blessings of love, prosperity, and freedom (freedom from fear, repression, hunger, etc.).
If not us, then who? We are a powerful force -- human beings motivated by love, not greed, not power, not revenge. Love is the key that can unlock the door to the future that we seek -- one where we can live in peace and harmony with all of our neighbors -- whether they live on the "other side of the track", the other side of the building, or on the other side of the world. Can our goal be to become one big happy family?
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... ~ John Lennon
Who will be the hundredth monkey? Will it be you?
Violence and Compassion: Dialogues on life today
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Addressing the problems our world currently faces, including terrorism, environmental dangers, and overpopulation, the Dalai Lama offers direct guidance and gentle wisdom on how to overcome such major issues.
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Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
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