This post is a rerun–but sometimes a rerun is still engaging. Someone came to my house yesterday and asked how I was feeling about the devastation in Japan–the earth’s shifts and the nuclear disaster. I found myself still for a moment before responding. I was aware, firstly, that this person was wondering if I was fearful. Now, I can go to fear as readily as some, as reticently as others — but rarely find it constructive. So, my truest response was a variation of this post–one of my first and one also posted on my website – http://www.northcountryfarms.com. So – here it is — redundant perhaps, relevant hopefully.
At a dinner party this past week, there were a group of us talking politics—an often fiery and frustrating discussion, at best. One of the guests, a person I’ve known and loved for years, admitted with a heavy heart that she has basically given up hope. She views the insanity on a global level as a sign that we have simply gone too far and there is no way out.
I carried her words into my dreams that night. And awoke that next morning still contemplating them. And I continued to ponder them for another day or so. It was uplifting to realize that my own reflection is really quite the antithesis of hers.
While I find that there is little I can do to impact the world on a large scale, I know that my daily actions are vitally important. The way we conduct ourselves—in our interpersonal relationships, in our business, in our buying power, in our political actions and more—is what carries out into the world. That ‘ripple effect’, in essence.
Activism by lifestyle, I call it. The eightfold Buddhist path asks its followers to cultivate: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. The right livelihood aspect resonates especially with me. Being able to grow good food in a conscious way and know that people are eating and enjoying it is one way I can impact the world, at least the northshore of Kauai! Having intrepid travelers come and stay in our cottages and experience a lifestyle consistent with sustainable living and take that concept back to their world is another way I can reach out to try and influence thinking outside of the box. Choosing to buy and consume primarily organic products and environmentally friendly cleaning products can make a huge difference. And, always the most challenging—parenting in a way that encourages mutual cooperation and respect, relinquishing control in favor of influence and making each moment an exercise in love and clear thought—that really could change things in years to come.
My dear friend from Alaska tells me there is a concept in Judaism that is called tikkun olem. As I understand it, it means healing the world. Now, in my own small, humble way, that is what I’m aspiring to do. . . one day at a time, one conscious moment at a time. I truly haven’t given up hope. I have worlds of hope, a great deal of faith and even some patience.
Blessings on our global brothers and sisters in Japan. And blessings on our process of enlightening our own little part of the world.
Activism by lifestyle – I love that! To me, that’s the most important and effective kind of activism….thank you for being!
Beautifully stated – so eloquent and inspirational. Gratitude for your wisdom…
I enjoyed rereading your post dear sister, and am inspired to respond…… I have an interesting relationship with hope. When I am most “hopeful” is when I am centered and living in the realm of what is around me. Living in relation with those people and that part of the earth that is right there in that moment with me. My own particular blend of spirit/physics-in-action allows me the grace to experience that I am connected to the whole, and that I am making the very best impact I can by loving what is and choosing that which supports that love rather than diminishes it.
When I am most spun out is when I get into the pattern of shock at the insanity that is in the world and being flung at me by the “news” , of hoping I can change the world, and of being dissappointed when that hope does not reveal itself to be obviously fruitful. It is so easy sometimes, for me to jump on that rollercoaster. And very little in my life feels more hopeless than that. It actually feels more like I am in an abusive relationship with hope when I give myslef to that.
At the same time, very little in my life gives me more hope than loving what is right there in front of me. And very little is more challenging than that either. This practice of lovingkindness is my version of hope in action. It is obvious and easier with those in my immediate little circle. But it does not stop there. This hope allows me to send money to a family I will never know so that they can buy a goat or some chickens, to write a letter to my senator, to pray for those who are obviouly suffering and for those who have no one else to pray for them, to teach my students, and to take part in any other action with a sense of hope, not because I think it will save the world but because it is a natural extension of what is right in front of me. It enhances the experience of loving/kindness through action. It makes real the knowing that we are all connected. And that gives me hope.
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