Calm, Clarity, Compassion
If we want to act wisely in the world, the first step is to learn to quiet the mind. If our actions are born from grasping or fear, they will perpetuate the problems. Only when our own minds and hearts are peaceful can we expect peace to come through the actions we take.
To understand this integration of inner and outer, we can look at the life of Gandhi. Even during the most turbulent years, when he was dismantling the British Empire’s control of India, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence. He meditated so that he could act from the principles of interdependence, not bringing harm to himself nor another. No matter how pressing and urgent the political situation, the day he spent in silence allowed him to quiet his mind and listen to the purest intentions of his heart.
If you want to live a life of balance, start now. Turn off the news for a while, meditate, turn on Mozart, walk through the forest or the mountains and begin to make yourself a zone of peace. Let go of the latest story. Listen more deeply. When we react to insecurity with fear we worsen the problem—we create a frightened society. Instead we can use courage and compassion to respond calmly, with both prudent action and a fearless heart.
Remember the story Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh told of the crowded refugee boats. “If even one person on the boat stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” It is our inner nobility and steadiness that we must call upon in our personal and collective difficulties.