Question: I am wondering about how much to be politically involved. It seems as though resistance or effort to promote a change in the world is counter-productive as it tends to just prolong issues. How do we know when to take action?
Answer: All of us are moved to do whatever it is that we do in this life because of what we believe in, which is very much the same as what we are attracted to in one way or another. It is a fundamental principle that we are drawn to whatever it may be because within that relationship — whatever its nature — exists something for us to discover about ourselves through that relationship. Another timeless precept is that “the inner determines the outer,” which is to say that the world we meet — individually and collectively — is pretty much a reflection of the level of our own present nature.
If we can marry these two important ideas, then what we will see is that trying to change the world around us without first awakening to the world within us that has created what we want to change is an act of futility. That being said, we can’t ignore the world we’re making, and certain actions are mandatory to keep it from going completely down the drain.
So, one must be a good civilian. To quote a bit of Eastern wisdom, one must put their faith in Allah but tie up their camel. People who arbitrarily destroy or deliberately corrupt must be dealt with. It is wise to live as “green” as possible. To not vote for what one believes in, is to vote for what others believe in that runs counter to one’s own common sense.
To summarize, the most difficult thing in the world is also the most important thing in the world… and that is: to thine own self be true. What others do or don’t do often requires our attention, but without first attending to our own interior unrest and conflict, we are hiding from our own sickness by feigning interest in the health of others.
How many times will you have that dreaded feeling that “it’s all been for nothing”… even as you’ve “learned” from your mistakes? You may be growing in the addition of psychological information that you carry and refer to about yourself, with lots of facts why you’ll never run into trouble again (you know the drill — how it always starts with how much you see about what you didn’t see before), but the inevitable conclusion to each of these recurring painful life experiences is that you have not learned the real lesson behind them, else why their return visit? Which also means it’s usually just a matter of time until, because of yet some other unforeseen event, once again you’re wondering what on earth your life is for.
One of the secret reasons why the spiritual path is so difficult is because it begins in earnest with the new understanding that life has its own intention, and that real success in life depends upon our uncovering this higher intention and aligning ourselves, our actions, with it. Failure — to give it a quick definition — is when men and women place their invented intentions over life’s genuine one. Can we not see that the feeling of “all for nothing again” is the proof that our intention did not align itself with life’s? Otherwise, something different would have occurred.
Something must happen to us so we realize our actual condition, where one fateful day we say to ourselves: “Look at this! For years I’ve struggled to escape this circle of myself, to become a different kind of human being, and I’m still going through the same loops. I’m no more able to bring myself a new life than the fall can bring itself closer to spring!” When we no longer push away that fact, when we know we’ve run out of all explanations — all “whys” for the way we are — we’re ready for the first time to do something that we have never done before. We are ready to be for something that, by being for it, will change us.
One fact for both our inner education and constant encouragement is that when you know how to look into life, it’s possible to find the celestial in even the most common, natural things… and therein you see that everything in life is for something. The bees and the flowers, the birds and the trees, the rain and the soil are all for one another; they complete one another. This observable feature of natural life teaches us something vast and vital in our search for God’s life. The great dynamic of things that are for one another, that complete one another in an unseen web of life, speaks of an invisible relationship at work going on around us all of the time. When we’re for the right thing in this life we get the right reward — which is the joy of feeling ourselves more complete.
So before the Truth can set us free, we must be for the Truth. We don’t really understand what this truth means as it concerns our everyday lives and their various affairs. We lack this essential spiritual knowledge because every time we encounter a moment where there’s no denying we’ve been for the wrong thing, up pops a certain all-knowing part of us that pronounces, “Ah yes… it’s clear. I see it all now! I know what went wrong this time.” And we buy it! The self that’s talking to us has our complete confidence. We’ve no doubt it knows what to be for and how it’s going to change everything the next time around.
In the split second when we do something right for another human being — when we know we shouldn’t hurt someone with our angry tones or cruel remarks, and we abstain from ourselves at the cost of ourselves — when we know we shouldn’t spend money that we don’t have or even that we do have, when we do the right thing for ourselves, we receive the reward of doing the right thing. The reason we get that reward is because we are for the right thing! Our conscious action completes us in that split second. And in that same moment, we also receive the encouragement to do the right thing again, which is another kind of reward in itself!
Begin today, this moment, to use your whole life — every moment of it — to be for something that is in reality for you. When you begin to be for God before you’re for yourself, then God will begin to be there before you. This Supreme Nature will start to live inside of you and do something that you’ve never been able to do for yourself: Give you the feeling that — at long last — everything is right within you because now the whole of you is for the right thing.
Any human being who has to hold himself together is someone who is ready to fall apart. Trying to hold yourself together is a terrible way to go through life. Our task is to prove this to ourselves. The fears of falling apart can never be quieted by adding more pieces to your self, such as success or the hopes of success. With this approach to life, you wear out faster, because you now have even more conditions you believe you must control in order to keep your life together. Consider closely the following higher insight. It reveals the intelligence behind your wish to let go.
Anything that you have to control, controls you. The problem with self-control is that it is part of a war inside of you. No one ever wins in a war! Let’s look at this same idea again from a slightly different perspective. Whenever an uncertain situation arises, the mind works feverishly to resolve it in order to regain a sense of being in control. However, the more feverishly the mind works, the more out of control you become! You can see this for yourself. Anything that is afraid of losing control is already out of control: an accident waiting to happen. There is more, and we must see it all if we are ever going to rise above our present life-level to true self-certainty.
Whenever we picture ourselves, there is one image that rarely, if ever, enters into our mental movie: that of being someone who is ready to fall apart. But again, few of us see ourselves in any self-compromising light at all. We feel safe within the dimly lit theater of our own circle-of-self pictures, and we return to it often—especially when the harsh light of reality starts to break through and show us that we may not be as together as we’d like to think. This is why we need the truth in our lives. The truth is what allows us to see reality without being frightened about what we see. Part of the truth’s rescuing action is to reveal to us that we are not apart from what we see. From this unique, inner vantage point, the light of reality isn’t harsh—it’s Home. The more of this light we can welcome into our circle-of-self and its cast of 1,001 self-images, the easier it becomes to let go. Why? Because we aren’t losing anything except for what has been keeping us in the darkness.
If we are honest, we realize that our lives seem to grow smaller as we grow older. We have fewer friends, fewer activities; we take fewer and fewer risks. But why? Why should a person’s possibilities for new and stimulating impressions diminish with their age? Why, if we are continuing to develop and grow as we should be, shouldn’t we be looking for greater and greater personal challenges instead of avoiding them? Could this slowly constricting life of ours be the result of an unconscious urge on our part to avoid any situation or relationship that might toss the proverbial straw onto the camel’s back of our picture of ourselves?
“I can see the logic of what you are saying, but as you said, I don’t think this applies to me.”
“Are you willing to see if it does?”
“Good. Do you ever get angry or anxious?”
“Yes, I do, but what does that have to do with falling apart?”
“Let’s see. What makes you angry or anxious?”
“When things don’t go the way I want them to.”
“In other words, you’ve pictured how things should be, and when life doesn’t confirm these pictures, you get negative in one way or another.”
“Yes, that about describes it. What are you getting at?”
“Let’s work together at this. You said that when life doesn’t confirm your self-pictures, your hope of future security, love in relationships, or whatever it is, then some kind of stress or unhappiness comes up as these pictures of yours begin to fall apart?”
“This shows us that within your present way of thinking, you believe your future happiness actually depends upon these pictures. This is why, as your pictures begin to crumble, so do you!”
“Yes, but why do I get angry or anxious?”
“Because these punishing emotions are part of a subtle system of self-subterfuge that accomplishes two dark things at once: it keeps the problem alive and, at the same time, it keeps the real solution out of sight.”
“What is the problem?”
“Essentially, it is a lack of understanding about your true nature. You are about to discover that you are not who you think you are. No matter how attractive or repulsive, you are not any picture you may be holding of yourself.”
“And what is the real solution?”
“Go ahead and let yourself fall apart!”
“What? That’s going to take some explanation!”
“And there is one if you will go through the experience; but for now, here is the intelligence behind this unexpected answer: you are not what will fall apart. Who you are can never fall apart. What will collapse is the haunted house of self-flattering and security-seeking pictures you had mistakenly identified as a solution to your shaky life. These pictures are not the solution to your shakiness, they are the source of it.”
Anything inside of you that wants you to act from the pressure of “I know” is already against you. As a conscious aspirant, you must bear the pressure so you can begin to die to this form of negative certainty, and then enter into the true certainty of what it means to be an awake, compassionate human being.