The One Place,
One question I must ask you is: Must it be a physical place, or can we start with the mind? In other words, I’d like to pose the idea that many of the major issues we are facing in today’s civilization begin inwardly, and not the other way around. This is not to deny many of the physical world problems; disasters, weather, disease, poverty, famine, etc. It’s only to acknowledge that perhaps humanity would be more prone to assisting the areas of the world that are in need of great help, if on the “inside” we were more prone to do so. It seems to me that there lacks a certain capacity for compassion. We are not sure of ourselves, and the world we live in is already so terrifying, that so many of us seem to be more interested in our own psychological security before anything else. There are varying degrees of this, from your neighbor buying a Hummer to military dictators slaughtering the innocent in the name of power and control. Although the gap between these two examples is great, inwardly – it might seem that they both stand in common ground.
We are terribly afraid. And let me propose this common phrase as the reason behind that fear: “We are afraid of the unknown.” If you really look at this phrase, you will see it is impossible to be true. Who can fear the unknown? If we don’t know what it is, how is it that we are afraid of it? It would seem that we do not fear what may lie in the darkness, but rather we conjure our imagination to create monsters in the darkness – and we mask the darkness with a boogey-man so that we at least have something labeled, known, squared away. Concepts help us, at a psychological level, control our reality. And control is safety. Fence by fence, wall by wall, we build fortresses of ideology in order to transform the world into a place we can feel secure. If our inward sphere of reality somehow became physical, we would see vast castles around individuals, cultures and people, all attempting to round everything up into the realm of the known. Come to think of it, if we look at our civilization today, this may not be so abstract after all.
But that just goes to show what I am trying to convey here – We crave and act upon anything and everything that allows us to feel secure with ourselves. And this, it seems, has been the driving force of civilization. The security of power, the security of ideology – war and politics, conquer and divide – these things have been churning the gears of our societal juggernaut for ages, and it seems there is no stopping it until it destroys itself.
What can we as individuals do, then, to help? Do we start at the grassroots, and work our way up? Do we help the poor, the needy, the hungry? Or do we engage the realm of ideologies and attempt to settle disputes and transcend idea-wars? I would argue that both are necessary, but must stem from one authentic part of ourselves – our compassion for the world, for all life. We must have it in us to lay down our own burden of issues, to face our own issues with compassion and boldness. There is no other way to bring about change that is lasting and ageless. This compassion itself invokes a higher state of consciousness, or level if you will. One in which the human being is no longer merely concerned with both physical and psychological subsistence. The capacity to connect with others, to open up, to listen, to understand human nature because they understand themselves. If we could only do this, we may begin to see major shifts in the way civilization handles its problems.
As much as we would like to say, the majority of the world is not doing this. Embracing this fact and accepting its reality is as vital as carrying out a mission to help the world – otherwise we are simply following yet another ideal, i.e. everyone is compassionate. Instead, we have to recognize everyone has the potential within them for compassion and wisdom. What we must do then, is to discover it in ourselves, and help others discover it too. We can do nothing more, nothing less than this. No change can be forced, and no revolution in its truest sense is done by any measure of aggression. In the end, it is the human being who must awaken, and it is a realization only he can achieve. We can merely point the way, help guide them as we guide ourselves to recognizing our true nature, our innermost potential. Ultimately it is not what we must do, but how we must be.
The action will flow naturally from the being. So many of us are trying to “become” greater or achieve something at an end point somewhere – but it is in the living, the being, between the end points that true life and vitality is. We must learn this playful awareness of the present, for by doing so a great psychological burden is dropped. We do not need to live in fortresses of security, in memories and ideals – for they will take us away from this ever-living and organic state of being. Instead, we must learn to slowly, surely let the castles crumble, and embrace the present.