WHAT WOULD BUDDHA DO?

Interrelationship

You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy

Thich Nhat Hanh

I grew up around DC.  A Northern Virginia suburb that gave me the opportunity to be a part of a lot of protests- whether I was in them or knew about them, they were always there affecting the world around us.  When I worked in the district, we had to close our office on the day of the World Bank protests.  Once, my roommate was on a bus returning to our apartment in Adams Morgan and it was actually attacked by World Bank protesters.  And no, we were not in a third world country, we were in Washington DC.  My office would dread this day- when the world’s “trustafarians” would embark on the nation’s capital and protest policies that most had no concrete reason to protest other than to exercise their right to the expression of aggression over things that usually had nothing to do with what they were actually protesting.  I’m not saying that there are not reasons to protest- because I know there are a lot of policies in this world that don’t make any sense, and affect many people extremely negatively.  There are also people that seem to get away with everything, leaving those deeply affected behind, having to find some way to survive in this delusional desire realm we live in, we trudge along in every day.  If you look at history, the truth reveals itself.  Sit ins created change, peaceful marches on Washington during the Civil Rights Movement created change.

When the Occupy Movement began, I remember feeling somewhat grateful that people were out there making a statement about something they were really concerned about.  There were intelligent people out there really trying to make their voices heard about social problems that they felt could not just be swept under the rug.  There was a community starting where people were aligning with one another, and they did not feel so alone in their frustrations.  As our world is truly rooted in the “mind”, change is constant and with that change comes cycles in our collective consciousness.  Eventually, things cycle out and it is important for us to move with that change.

This blog post is a piece outing myself about protests.  Many people have called me a closet hippie, and I admit that I work hard to cover it up- believe me!  In my heart, I find that most protests are futile in nature and the most effective way to make change is by “being the change we wish to see in the world” as Gandhi once said.  I truly mean this, and although it may seem not concrete enough for most people, if we allow ourselves to be used as tools for a higher consciousness, and not only work on our own issues, but go out there and do things that really help people and create new policies that will affect those ineffective policies, then we can give an opportunity to others to grow and transform, and be provided for when they feel there is nothing left instead of fighting with stubborn egos.

We can utilize every opportunity we have to be kind and in our integrity in this life, and  affect the world to a much larger degree than mass organized protests.  Negotiation is key here- we must look at who we are dealing with in every situation, and analyze the most effective way to strategically work with someone based on their character traits and what they believe in.

The law of cause and effect is extremely important here and our actions are rooted in this principle.  If we push forward in anger and self righteousness, then that anger and self righteousness will push back because there is no separate self.  In this pushing and pulling nothing becomes settled and people walk away with more issues than they walked into the room with.  I remember being in high school and watching a documentary on LBJ and the protests outside of the White House during the Vietnam War.  There was a camera shot of him standing in the window looking out while mass protests shouted at him, “Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?”  And what did LBJ do?  He raised a flag of stubbornness rather than surrender,  and he continued on with his policies.  That picture sits in my mind so clearly and I only feel compassion for everyone involved.

Whenever you feel angry about someone’s policies or behaviors that cause more suffering in this world for others, remember what it would be like to be that person.  Be conscious of how they are creating more suffering for themselves, and in the end, their ignorance is winning in this life.  We have the greatest gift of free will to choose behavior that is not rooted in ignorance.  In the poem above by Thich Nhat Hanh, he says:

You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

To embrace the love within you is enough to change the world, and there is no protest that would ever change my connection to you, and vice versa.  Every seed we plant within ourselves is also planted in others around us.  I am grateful every day for the opportunity and choice that I have to live in a compassionate way and connect with others the way I would like to be treated.  When I think about my own ignorant behavior in this life, the one thing that helped me more than anything else was compassion and the willingness of another person to teach me by example rather than confrontation.

What did Siddhartha do when he saw the poverty and suffering in his city after sneaking out from his shielded reality?  He did everything he could to find enlightenment within himself so he could help ameliorate the suffering of everyone, including the poor people- and he was a prince.  His teachings are still relevant today, thousands of years later.

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