Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

What to Do When the World Sucks

Yesterday’s blog post about John Mayer’s hit song “Waiting for the World to Change” inspired a great conversation on how it currently feels to be stuck with the world as it is (most obviously stuck with the Iraq War). Reader Kannbrown65 wrote:

“Well, to be fair, the song is specifically about the ‘Iraq War.’ And, if you’re one of the people who never supported it, who voted against those who did support it, and watched two election cycles of being, literally, ignored… that is the sort of thing that is fueling the song. It is hard to ‘be the change,’ when the change is more than a mindset, but an actual, physical action that is taking place now… And it’s partly mirrored by the recent poll, where a majority of Americans were noted as just ‘waiting for the Bush presidency to be over.'”


Then this came in from reader Khoffmaster:


I understand the feelings completely. I often feel helpless myself, and I daily witness the anger rising in my twelve-year-old who keeps lamenting in the car coming home from school that my generation has so screwed up the world that it will take his whole lifetime to rearrange its priorities. If we all get to live. ( I do seem to recall saying the same thing to my parents, though the situation today, I agree, seems worse.)


So how can one change the world with a landscape of profound helplessness and anger as a backdrop? Spiritual teachers don’t always seem reliable since they banter on and on about finding bliss in the “now” moment. Well, what if this “now” sucks?

Meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says–true to form–that we’ve got to be at one with the despair, at one with the horror when it’s there. This is different from being disengaged, and waiting for the world to change. This is more active. This is useful, passionate anger. He writes:

“Meditation is… about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and for the world to be exactly as it is in this moment as well. This is not so easy, since there is always something that we can rightly find fault with if we stay inside our thinking. And so there tends to be great resistance on the part of the mind and body to settle into things just as they are, even for a moment. That resistance to what is may be even more compounded if we are meditating because we hope that by doing so, we can effect change, make things different, improve our own lives, and contribute to improving the lot of the world.”


“That doesn’t mean that your aspirations to effect positive change, make things different and improve your life and the lot of the world are inappropriate. Those are all very real possibilities. Just by meditating, by sitting down and being still, you can change yourself and the world. In fact, just by sitting down and being still, in a small but not insignificant way, you already have.

“But the paradox is that you can only change yourself or the world if you get out of your own way for a moment, and give yourself over and trust in allowing things to be as they already are, without pursuing anything, especially goals that are products of your thinking. Einstein put it quite cogently: “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” Implication: We need to develop and refine our mind and its capacities for seeing and knowing, for recognizing and transcending whatever motives and concepts and habits of unawareness may have generated or compounded the difficulties we find ourselves embroiled within, a mind that knows and sees in new ways, that is motivated differently. This is the same as saying we need to return to our original, untouched, unconditioned mind.


“How can we do this? Precisely by taking a moment to get out of our own way, to get outside of the stream of thought and sit by the bank and rest for a while in things as they are underneath our thinking, or as Soen Sa Nim liked to say, “before thinking.” That means being with what is for a moment, and trusting what is deepest and best in yourself, even if it doesn’t make any sense to the thinking mind. Since you are far more than the sum of your thoughts and ideas and opinions, including your thoughts of who you are and of the world and the stories and explanations you tell yourself about all that, dropping in on the bare experience of the present moment is actually dropping in on just the qualities you may be hoping to cultivate — because they all come out of awareness, and it is awareness that we fall into when we stop trying to get somewhere or to have a special feeling and allow ourselves to be where we are and with whatever we are feeling right now. Awareness itself is the teacher, the student, and the lesson…”

This passage comes from the wonderful book “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness.”

Comments read comments(6)
post a comment

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I also try to think of people like Martin Luther King Jr. Even as a child I thought of him and all he had done. I have been very fortunate as a caucasian woman, to never have experienced the terrible treatment the black american had to deal with not so long ago. The reason I go back to this is because it is so unbelieveble to me that anyone would have it in them to treat another with such disrespect in our lifetime, in this country. But think of what MLK Jr. did? He didn’t sit around waiting for things to change. He did what he would feel good doing, no matter what the outcome would be. That’s what it is about to me. No matter how big or small, I create the world around me. I do what will make me feel like I am a positive force in this world. And that’s all we really need. Something as simple as being kind to everyone you encounter in your day. If everyone focused on that, can you imagine how much better life would be. And that positive emotion would just ooze into every part of everyones life. Maybe even into the minds and hearts of people who think war is the only answer. All I know is when a stranger genuinely smiles at me and says hi or holds a door open for me or offers help in some way, that warms my heart for a big part of the day. Or when I do it for someone else it feels just as good. We all can do that. That’s easy. It doesn’t have to be this big master plan to save the world. Just focus for one week on being nice and how it feels when someone is nice to you. See how you feel at the end of each day. Really check in with yourself. It’s amazing what happens when you have nothing but positive energy flowing out of you. We can do it one smile at a time and hopefully it’s contagious. That’s my take.

report abuse


posted January 31, 2007 at 6:10 pm

Is there really any thing out of order with the world or is it our perspective? How we personally view the world is how we see ourselves. I see things as Peace, Love, Joy, Goodness, Laughter, Compassion, Beauty, Order and Grace. Because I know that I Am all those things. As quiet as it is kept, we are all those things. The difference is some are aware and some are unaware. To me, God is everything in form. That is my truth so how can anything be out of order? Whatever one believes is what one is. It is unfortunate that some have more regard for bombs and bullets than human life. Since God is All things, eventually all will come to the Authentic Self we all are. I am at Peace with all humanity. All that I am, I emanate to all that I encounter each moment. Life is Wonderful in all forms. I am so grateful to be in form in the present moment. “The Sacred Now.” Peace, Love and Joy Rosa

report abuse


posted February 8, 2007 at 12:26 am

The last post is beautiful, and I honor anyone who can live in this world and yet be in that place. For me, the best I can do is have a concept, or a goal such as that. But it is not realized that often. It seems human compassion forces one to feel suffering. I do take the time I need to recharge (go within) and I feel peace, but then back in the world it looks the same. I do the little bit I can, but the world does wear me down.

report abuse


posted July 29, 2007 at 12:37 am


report abuse


posted August 5, 2007 at 2:23 pm

I think the post by Rosa hit the nail on the head. I also understand the issue that Robert brought up. If you can just take a few moments out of each day and meditate on the things that Rosa said, you will emanate that positve energy for just those moments. As you live, you will acknowledge that those moments are becoming more frequent and last a little longer. With practice and patience, you will notice that the world is a little more peaceful, quiet, and kind. Imagine that reality is just around you, and then that the person next to you is engulfed and so on until many people inhabit your realm. And each of them reaches out spiritually and adds their own positive emanations. Soon the whole country, continent, world is full of this energy. From here the universe and beyond.

report abuse


posted August 10, 2007 at 11:54 am

As with all of life’s important things, change takes patience. God has His reasons for putting the world through a second Bush’s incompetent attempts to remain in a war that should have ended years ago. There are far better ways to help the Iraqis become a people of hope than wasting the lives of our young men and women in combat.
We must open our hearts, our minds, and our ears before speaking. We must LISTEN to the Iraqis as they tell us what they want in terms of governmental and political oversights. They are an ancient people, quite familiar with changing power structures and the hazards those changes entail. They are quite capable of either moving forward in hope or backwards in despair; they’ve done so for millennia: whereas we’ve only been at our democracy for just over 200 years.
We aren’t perfect as a nation. It’s a difficult truth to take, but it’s still true. We don’t have the right to trample another people’s culture, religion, or ethics just because we don’t agree with them. God made us all unique and uniquely gifted to change our planet for the better. We as a nation have lost sight of this fact.
Instead of treating mature Iraqis as simpletons, thereby offending them and closing off their minds to our advice; we must quietly watch, listen, and learn from them as they sort out where they want to go as a nation. We aren’t God, period. We don’t have the right to tell others how to direct their lives, even though letting them decide their paths is a scary prospect.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Chattering Mind. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Inspiration Report Happy Reading!!!   ...

posted 9:09:39am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

CM's Final Posts: You Can Fill the Space
Eighteen years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine that got me called in for a taped interview with a Fox TV morning news anchor. Being an effective communicator and a skillful public speaker was a dream of mine at the time. And still ...

posted 3:14:59pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Websites to Visit, Blogs to Read
Here are some blogs and websites I like. It's not a complete list. But it's a start. The first is called New Moon Journal and it is written by Michele Bailey-Lessirard, a life coach, collage artist, and "shamanic astrologer." On the opening page ...

posted 1:24:03pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Still Posted at My Desk
"Take off from here. And don't be so earnest, let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes. Let go, let fly, forget. You've listened long enough. Now strike your note." From "Station Island," by Seamus Heaney ...

posted 1:13:33pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

And Finally, This:
Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. Remain all the time steadfast in the heart, in the Transcendental Absolute. God knows the past, present and future. He will determine the future for you and ...

posted 11:30:38am Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.