Social unrest has been bubbling to the surface in the news all over America, and around the world for some time now. As interesting as it is to entertain the idea of having our own Arab Spring here in America, the odds of a violent revolution occurring here are probably nil. Prior to major revolutions of the past such as the French and Russian Revolutions, the masses were seriously oppressed by the ruling classes, living under extreme taxation, and starving for decades. As grave as things may seem, America is still the most lavish nation on Earth and nowhere near abject poverty. Therefore, I don't anticipate a full-blown violent revolution (Americans have become far too complacent for that), but rather a Quiet Revolutionary Period that will ultimately enact major change over time. Not every revolution must result in conflict. As Sun Tzu states (on one of my T-shirts):
The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.There are endless issues of greed and corruption within the global and political elites, but clearing this bilge will require much more than violence or extreme political upheaval. It will require a massive shift of individuals ideals and consciousness, a shift that has been lurking in the shadows, a shift that has already begun... while there may in fact be an extreme political divide, individuals are banding together to create a force for change and taking stock in what we are all doing on this planet in an effort to do things better.
There is a happening occurring and similar to the Enlightenment Period leading up to the French Revolution, we have once again embarked upon an Age of Reason where revolutionary ideals are transmitting quickly from one person to the next. A revolution can start with just one person, one idea, one vision. And a true revolution forces every individual to dig deep inside their beliefs, their desires, and their faults to resolve a better way forward. Many individuals have adopted this path and have come to the realization that leading by example and being accountable is the best way to inspire and empower others. Once any individual makes a conscious choice to simplify their lives, cut out the bullshit, seek truth, pursue beauty, aspire to perfection, and hold themselves accountable, they will ultimately enact change for the better within the world around them. Collectively, these individual efforts begin to acquire momentum and snowball into a movement that becomes contagious. These are the engines of a healthy revolution, the beacons of change when change is necessary. This 'voice of reason' is inherent within all of us and maximizing our relationship with it is not rocket science. As cliche as it may appear, there are simple steps we can take everyday to enlighten ourselves and attain unity with the Quiet Revolution.
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. Every individual is part of an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single fabric of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness, and nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else. As Alan Watts states:
You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.
Zen Monks and Masters don't care about results. They focus on habits, rituals, and processes that support the Zen way of living. Too often, we stare blindly on the results we want to achieve and we forget why we do something in the first place. Simply develop habits and rituals that support what you're trying to achieve in life. When you focus on the process, the outcome will follow automatically. One story that reminds myself of this... A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:
If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.
The Master thought about this, then replied, Ten years.
The student then said, But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?
Replied the Master, Well, twenty years.
But, if I really, really work at it. How long then? asked the student.
Thirty years, replied the Master.
But, I do not understand, said the disappointed student. At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?
Replied the Master, When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.
Beauty is conceived as the integration of intellectual and aesthetic faculties in the encounter with art and nature. Truth is the result of the logical exercise of rational faculties and the elevating sense of curiosity derived from experiences in the world. Thus, the marriage of the beautiful and true is the very basis of a more just and equitable society. Looking for doubt instead of truth separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and dismantles mutual relations. It is a thorn that irritates and a sword that kills. As one of my favorite quotes from Buddha states:
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of truth and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
Every individual possesses infinite cognitive potential. The mind is everything and what you think you become, therefore we are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts and with our thoughts, we make the world. So simple, yet so true and powerful a statement. This latent potential can be developed to reach a more perfect state of intellect, morality, character and conduct while advancing knowledge and culture as a whole. It entails the pursuit of personal cultivation to create a convergence with a collective ethical ideal. All it takes is that first thought and there are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. As Greek Philosopher, Plotinus states:
Withdraw within yourself, and examine yourself. If you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes, purifies until he has adorned his statue with all the marks of beauty. Remove from your soul, therefore, all that is superfluous, straighten out all that is crooked, purify and illuminate what is obscure, and do not cease perfecting your statue until the divine resplendence of virtue shines forth upon your sight.
To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self and to forget the self is to be awakened by all things. Stop living in the painful shadows of your ego. Goodness is found in the human capacity to feel compassion for others and thereby contribute to the betterment of society. Recognizing and overcoming your ego will allow your true self to shine through. By opening one's perceptual horizons, a person is elevated beyond ego and self-absorption into a realm of universal concern and contemplation. In today's selfie-made world it is more pertinent than ever to let go of your ego and strengthen faculties of empathy that induce deeper compassion for others and attentiveness to the wellbeing of the social collective. By letting go of your Ego, you'll gain the ability to adapt to any and all changes and keep your peace of mind.
Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life – after that you cannot be deceived.
Every morning we are born again and what we do today is what matters most. You don't have to always go full-power or continually strive to do groundbreaking things in order to have a meaningful life. You don't need to be the first person to Mars or the youngest person to climb Everest. Simply enjoy every moment of every day and appreciate being alive. Some people think this is not very realistic unless you are a monk, however this is not the case. Whenever I feel like I'm having a shitty day, the first thing I do is stop and remind myself to enjoy the moment. Stopping, even for a few seconds to enjoy the moment or at the very least laugh out loud at myself, gives me clarity. This joy and wonder with even the most trivial of things can empower any individual. Be like children, who find joy in most things and enjoy being a part of this magnificent universe. This quote from Alan Watts says it all:
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.