Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Happy Peaceful Activist

In the last year or so I have found myself swinging between two very different ways of being in the world. It has seemed impossible for much of this time to reconcile the two.

On the one hand I am a meditator. I have been practicing vipassana / mindfulness meditation for over ten years, every single day. I know from experience that meditation brings peace and heals me. It makes life easier, clearer and kinder

By becoming a more peaceful person I know I'm making the world a more peaceful place. As the hatred, competitiveness and coldness in me dissolves and as the compassion in me grows the world gets lighter. It gets lighter still when I teach meditation to others.

On the other hand I am a nature lover. I see all plants, animals, trees, mountains and rivers as my brothers and sisters. To me they are conscious and just as worthy of love and care as we human beings. I am part of this natural living world and it is part of me. I feel hurt when it is ailing and feel joy when it is thriving. I honour this relationship every day by caring for my organic garden and honeybee sanctuary.

So, where is the problem? These two things seem so complimentary. They are both expressions of love and presence.

The problem was in how I have been responding to destruction of the natural world.

The more facts and figures I was taking in regarding climate change, poisoned bees, GMOs, deforestation, pesticides, etc. the more panic I was feeling and a desperation to do something, to do MORE, would take hold. I would take action from this feeling of fear and then find myself getting exhausted. I would rest and recover a wee bit of peace then more facts and figures would come at me and I would take another panic driven action. And on and on.

So I joined a movement that combines meditation and ecological action. I was hoping they would show me a way to balance activism with peaceful presence but the more I connected with them the more I saw that they too were stuck in panic. They had just developed a very sophisticated way of explaining it. It was like we were all gripped by a flashing red light in our heads saying 'Danger, Danger, Emergency, Emergency...'.

I just could not accept that a necessary component of expressing my love and sense of protection for the natural world was to be stuck in perpetual panic, anger and judgement.

In the past few months of silence, writing my mindfulness book and being on retreat I have been exploring all this, determined to get to the root of it.

Last week I rediscovered the book Zen Graffiti and out jumped the quote:

'Heresy and dogma are of the same nature.'

Those words got to the root of my struggle in an instant. I had been trying to find the solution by taking a stance. I had forgotten that peace only comes when you relax into yourself, as you are right now, following your inner guidance.

My inner guidance had been telling me to nurture life. It wasn't telling me to chain myself to anything, for now anyway. What I was inspired to do was enough.

The difference between a stress response and inner guidance is the feeling around it. One feels frantic and the other feels calm. One argues back and the other is sure and silent. If we fuel stress it will only bring more stress into the world. If we fuel wisdom then stress will fade.

All us humans are undertaking big shifts right now. There is so much going on and our poor wee body/minds have a lot to process. We are rapidly evolving. No one is right and no one is wrong in this. We are all doing our best.

One polarity says 'Do nothing' the other says 'Do something' yet life is a constant flow between the two and within that flow there can be great ease, growth and, dare I say it, great happiness.


'The forest is peaceful, why aren't you
You hold on to things causing your confusion. 
Let nature teach you.
Hear the birds song then let go.'

~ Ajahn Chah 

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