I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing struggle over the last few weeks and months. To make sense of so many things in this world and in my life. If I’m honest, I have faced challenges that have at moments felt insurmountable and I’ve experienced a sense of sadness, loss and a kind of mourning for the changing nature of what I thought to be true in my world.
I can blow it off as the human condition, we all face challenges all the time right? And I can pretend that all is well, especially when almost strangers ask the obligatory, how are you? But I have pondered what can be done – not about the specific issues I face but about the condition of sadness, challenge and fear.
And in my wonderings, and my reading and my practice I came upon this piece of writing which I’d love to share with you. It’s taken from the wonderful “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Many of us worry about the situation of the world. We don’t know when the bombs will explode. We feel that we are on the edge of time. As individuals, we feel helpless, despairing. The situation is so dangerous, injustice is so widespread, the danger is so close. In this kind of situation, if we panic, things will only become worse. We need to remain calm, to see clearly. Meditation is to be aware, and to try to help.
I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink. But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression – face, voice – communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save the lives of many.
Our world is something like a small boat. Compared with the cosmos, our planet is a very small boat. We are about to panic because our situation is no better that the situation of the small boat in the sea. …Humankind has become a very dangerous species. We need people who can sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people like that in order to save us. ..You are that person, each of you is that person.
I truly believe in the power of meditation and the power of prayer.
To be that person that stays calm, focused and on track.
To be the smiling, peaceful walker through these challenging times.
That is my wish – for us all.
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