One of the things that Sri Krishna said to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita was that no matter what happens in our lives, we are bound by action. Because we are bound by it, we should engage in our daily actions without our eye on the outcomes, and should act in a way that serves as a demonstration model to the world. "Act for the good of mankind, even though there is
nothing to gain from your actions." I think most people do want to do good in the world. Personally, I try to do good things that do not necessarily make the world a better place, because the world is the place that it is, I just do things that I think are good in and of themselves. Whenever someone tries to make the world a better place, they’re going to meet someone who has a different idea of what a better place means, and that can lead to conflict.
saints like Ramana Maharshi or Anandamayi Ma, Nisargadatta Maharaj — we can see that they didn’t try to make the world a better place — they knew the world was the place it already was — they just came in and said, ‘Who are you in this place?’ So doing good things doesn’t necessarily mean making the world a better place. It can also mean doing good things that are innately good in and of themselves. If a thing in its essence is good, then go forward. If
it's not, we can try to have the good sense to not waste time on it. Whether it's a painting, a song, a book, a company, any creation you are making or working on, it doesn't have to change the world, you just have to feel within you if it's worthwhile to do, and then take a chance on it. That's one of the secrets to balance.
We constantly hear about the "battle against this" and the "fight against that" and the "war on the other"—if you're always looking for battle, that's what you're
going to find. When something is out of balance we don't have to fight against that thing, we can also do the thing that counteracts it. Without behavior change, nothing will happen. If something doesn't work, then do it differently. Even a Yoga practice. This is not to say that we should not fight against injustice in the world, such a women's rights, racism, anti-semitism, and
abuse in all forms; we have to change these things. The battle described in the stories of the Goddess Festival are largely internal, and effect how we engage in the world. If we bring violence to social justice, then violence will be the result, and not social change. Because each of us, individually, are components of the world, when we change ourselves, we are also changing the makeup of the world.
To stop giving attention to the negatives and engage in positive behavior takes work. Both positivity and
negativity are infectious, and knowing that is one way to know how to tip the scales one way or the other. Another thing that is infectious is being helpful. Even better than being helpful is being thoughtful, which is the mark of a caring, gentle soul. Being thoughtful to those around us – aside from just being a good way to live – is that it is the easiest way to avoid becoming self-centered and self-satisfied, primed to be knocked off our perch into an endless cycle of us vs
Festival season – please feel free to join the temple celebrations here – and happy New Year!
PS Coming up...