Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thoughts from a Daily Reading

The daily reading from “365 Tao Daily Meditations” by Deng Ming-Dao struck home with me today:

“Chant one million times for world peace, they told me.
Pray three times a day to end all wars.
Practice austerities to liberate all living beings.
But the world’s miseries have never diminished.”

What a vivid vision that brings to me. I’ve often wondered how, with all the preaching that meditating and chanting will bring about world peace, why the world is in such chaos.

I myself, in many aspects, try to pull back from the world. It saddens me and I’ve said this often. I know it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, but for some of us, to immerse ourselves in having that misery put in our faces on a daily basis is detrimental to our well-being. Negativity breeds negativity and the constant barrage of the horrors going on the world is too much to handle. The more terrible things that are publicized, the more terrible things seem to happen.

Okay, maybe they’d be happening anyway, but when the news is so full of this kind of content, what does that do to people’s psyches? What hope for goodness is there when the news is mostly about terror and the horrible things that happen? It is one thing to report the news, but it seems the media just goes on and on about it. They don’t let up and even get into the faces of grieving people. Maybe for some people, reading about the terrible things that happen to other people makes them feel better about their own lives.

For me, there’s a difference between news and personal privacy. Perhaps I’m choosing to wear rose-colored glasses, but I want my life to be surrounded by more positivity. To have that constant barrage of negativity feeds fear and fear creates more horrors and brings disease to the physical body and mind. People start feeling desperate and when they get desperate… So, I choose to stay away from the news and negativity.

To go back to today’s reading, Ming-Dao said “What you do with your daily devotion is purely for your own sake. Once you put your ideals on a grand scale, they are compromised by the contradictions of life.”

There’s a part of me that agrees with that. In my own prayers and such, I start small, with myself and my family, and expand it out to include friends, acquaintances, community, town, area, state, etc. However, it’s hard to think that my daily devotion is only for my own sake. Maybe it’s because we are taught that to think of ourselves is selfish.

There’s also a part of me that doesn’t believe that “I” can change the world. What right do I have to try to force others to believe as I do? I am sorry that there is so much horror in the world. Heck, I don’t like to know there are bad things that happen in my own community. But, I don’t believe that I have the right to make changes to others. All I can do is try to keep my life and what’s around me in a positive light.

I think it’s wonderful that there ARE those out there who really try to make a difference in the world. I commend those who devote their time and money to helping others on a large scale. There are many more of us, though, that spend our lives on a lower level. I choose a smaller community and here I shall do what I can by trying to be the best person, a good person, that I can be.

Ming-Dao ended with, “There is no utopia. There never will be. There is only the valiant attempt of each person to live spiritually in a world where spirituality is almost impossible.” 

That sounds sad, but all you have to do is read history books, (not necessarily the history they taught us in school) biographies, or see programs dedicated to “real” history to know that issues of today are similar to those that peoples have dealt with for centuries. The world and population have grown, but evil, greed, and corrupt power have kept warfare alive forever. There are always those who will try to control others.

Oh, I could easily go off on another bent, but I’ll end with another saying:

 “Evil done in the name of goodness is still evil.”

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