Quote of the Week 378 - Core Teaching of Buddhism
The core teaching of Buddhism is to help people become less self-centered and learn how to give love to others.
--Lama Surya Dass, as quoted in Spirituality and Health magazine, September/October 2017 issue
Meditation (Click your selection, scroll down to view it)
- Audio Link: A Foundation for a Fruitful Meditation Practice: Science of Breath/Pranayama/Relaxation - Theory and Practice
- Meditation Basics - Expanded Version
- Meditation Basics - Condensed Version
- Mantra Meditation Basics
- Nada Meditation - Anahata/The Unstruck Sound
- Jewish Yoga Meditation
- Hebrew Mantras
- Hebrew Mantras, Part Two
- Hebrew Mantras, Part Three
- Hebrew Mantras - Adonai Hineni
- Healing Meditation: Ruach El Shaddai/Breath of Balance
- Meditating, Eating and Sleeping
- Shortcuts to Spiritual Development?
- Audio Link: Guided Meditation - I Am and Empty Shell, Therefore I Am Full; A Meditation on Emptiness and Dark Luminescence Based on the Opening Lines of Genesis
- Guided Meditation: The Stage
- Guided Meditation: I Am an Empty Shell, Therefore I Am Full; A Meditation on Emptiness and Dark Luminescence Based on the Opening Lines of Genesis
- Guided Meditation: The Rod, The Staff, and The Star
- Torah-Veda Meditation Class Site
- Interspiritual Contemplative Group
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Spiritual Response to Natural Disasters and Social Injustice
How can the heart be peaceful when it is truly put to the test through encounters with natural disaster, or even worse, social injustice? When, if ever, would anger be justified, or would there be a positive outcome to a limited degree of controlled anger if one sees others being mistreated? I struggle to have a peaceful heart when put to the test.
It is clear to me that in examining human history from its beginning through to the present time, there probably has not been a minute in the entire history of the world where the following has not been occurring somewhere at sometime: war, tyranny, social injustice. Additionally, natural disasters resulting in death and suffering are commonplace throughout history. There is no reason to conclude that any of this will every cease.
At the same time, it is also true that the following has been occurring continually all over the world throughout all times and places: love of all kinds, between lovers, friends, neighbors, parents and children; expressions of beauty in creative and performance arts; and struggles for more humanity and justice in the face of all types of social injustice.
We recently returned from a visit with my niece and nephew and their twins who are approaching their two year old birthdays. What I always take away from encounters with such young children is their natural joy and lust for life, just for the sake of living. They jump up and down on the couch, they squeal at the top of their lungs, they run around the house in exuberance as expressions of the sheer thrill of living. All over the world throughout human history, there are always such children expressing this sheer joy of life. We should also never forget that, and try to remain in contact with that, despite all of our adult neuroses and foibles.
I am certain that as there will always be injustice, there will always be struggles against it, and there will never be a lack of choice as to which injustice to struggle against. One spiritual view about anger is that a test of one’s spiritual development is to see how often you get angry, that highly evolved spiritual beings rarely get angry. This does not mean that you don’t struggle against injustice, but that your energy and effort should be fueled by something deeper than anger that provides a greater perspective and capacity to endure the long, arduous and frustrating road involved in most such struggles. The more firmly a foundation of inner peace can be established, the more effective one can be in struggles against injustice or in assistance in response to natural disasters. It is especially when one is “put to the test” that it is important to maintain an inner core of equilibrium. Perhaps a modicum of “controlled anger” is a useful tool, but effectiveness is lost when we are controlled by our emotions rather than the other way around, when we can productively and appropriately express and channel our emotional energies. Becoming spiritually developed does not mean being emotionally unexpressive, rather it places appropriate emotional reactions and expressions within the context of a deeper perspective which is lacking if the spiritual grounding is not present.
Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa are two good examples of spiritually-grounded social activists. We can place such people on pedestals and conclude that we as individuals could never reach such lofty states, but they never taught that their level of accomplishment was not attainable, but rather quite the contrary, that we all have the ability to function like they did. That should be our personal goal. The times of testing reveal how far we have developed. That is why I always encourage people to meditate regularly, because I believe that regular meditation provides the best avenue for the quickest route to lasting spiritual development and to being able to appropriately endure the various “tests” that life will inevitably provide.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi