Musings: The Power of One

Good health. To love and be loved. Inner peace. Imagine a life lived in the fullness of these three qualities and you might find yourself reflecting upon the ideal human existence. Looking at it even more closely you will discover that peace and love are interchangeable. If you cultivate peace of mind, love naturally follows because your accepting and non-judgmental attitude allows you to be open-hearted, generous and sincere. You feel healthy, even if your body is not symptom-free, because your attitude of acceptance knows that health is a journey of healing and not a permanent, unchanging condition. You meet each new day and situation with an attitude of thanks, and seek out ways to be of service and make a contribution wherever you are and regardless of what you “own.” You may own very little in a material sense, yet you may experience the richness of reward in knowing that the calm and stress-free vibration you radiate is healing and soothing to those around you.

Contrast this with our all too familiar days filled with worries and endless activity aimed at getting by, getting done, getting things purchased and paid for, securing our future, setting goals, angling for more, etc. For the most part, our lives revolve around the maintenance of our enormously complicated and material lifestyles, creating layers upon layers of stress which prevent us from reaching the healing peace within, not to mention reaching out to others. The more materialistic we become in gotta’ have this and gotta’ have that (vacations, cars, technology, or even control over other countries’ oil reserves), the more stress is added to our daily existence in trying to obtain them. Eventually something breaks due to the pressure overload: bodies, marriages, families, neighborhoods, even countries. How much more rigid and stressed can we get before the entire planet cracks wide open from the imbalance of so much violence, misunderstanding and greed?

The crises of war and peace unfolding in the world around us today serve as an incentive for us to make room for inner peace in our daily lives. Which of us can individually influence the out-of-control powers-that-be which threaten to destroy the entire planet if their self-serving agendas are not met? We are powerless in that regard; however, if we sincerely seek it, we will find a place of assurance right within ourselves which sustains us with strength and peace, and inspires us to reach out to others, offering the same. It reminds us that there is more to life than our fearful little existences, yet that we are an important part of something so much bigger. We are not alone. The source of this power flows endlessly like a fountain right within us that we can visit and drink from at any time to be re-energized, healed and enlightened. All we need to do is be quiet, still our minds and busy-ness, and just sit in silence for a short time until we feel the glow of inner peace begin to radiate its warmth and assurance from within. Not a person alive is without this inner source; if you seek it sincerely, you will find it, then let it begin to flow its healing energy throughout your body and mind. As world tensions rise, so does the power of these many individuals creating inner peace and healing the world from the inside out, one person at a time. Peaceful individuals can’t help but create a peaceful world.

The Jewish mystical tradition describes tikkun olam as an obligation of every Jew to contribute to the healing of the world by being the best that they can be. It is said that this is why the Jewish people have suffered and survived so long. If humans everywhere embraced this common responsibility, we would all find ourselves nurturing peaceable hearts and tolerant minds, the peak of human character. In a recent interview by Rosie O’Donnell, actor Richard Gere described his spiritual path as one of “diminishing the anger in you while you raise patience, love, compassion.” This is accomplished not only through his chosen spiritual path — which for Gere is Buddhism — but also through his parenting, acting roles and the small, everyday dealings with people which make his spiritual path a lifestyle of one individual creating healing in the world every day, every moment.

Author Thom Hartmann, who introduces his column “Cultural Crossroads” this issue in Spirit of Change, has long been an advocate of individuals speaking up and acting out. Most recently, Thom’s articles have begun to appear regularly on the website http://www.commondreams.org , a website of breaking news and views for the progressive community. Thom recently was the keynote speaker at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Environmental Week, a program of awareness-raising events organized by the college’s student group The Power of One. The students chose the probing question, “Do you create or do you destroy?” as a focus for discussions about how we can first identify and then move towards solutions for the environmental hazards and destructive behavior we have created in our world. The passion and dedication of such a surprising number of young engineering students to create change was inspiring to many cynical adults present. They selected Thom as their keynote for this important event because “his writings have inspired people around the world to wake up from their habitual, destructive lifestyles and open their eyes to the disorder in the world.”

Those who understand the importance of this “power of one” have faith in the effect of their actions to create positive change in the world, so they do the small things that one individual can do either alone or in a group to make a difference. One elder called it all a “labor of love.”

For some people, prayer, meditation and spiritual ceremonies are their contributions towards being the best they can be to assist the world in healing. For others, it is activism in the form of speaking out for spiritual values including world peace and respect for Mother Earth or finding service opportunities in the larger community. Still others will contribute by recycling their trash, reducing their consumption and refusing to support barbaric cultural practices like factory farming and animal lab testing, and only buying free-range meat and cruelty-free products. It is a fact that if every consumer stopped buying factory farm meat the industry would die, but does it make a difference if just one person stops buying it when 600 million others still do? Mahatma Ghandi liberated the entire country of India working non-violently through the power of one, demonstrating the potential momentum of this powerful, collective force. What matters is that each individual actually does their part, makes the effort, and contributes their small portion to the whole instead of creating a hole.

A core belief of many spiritual traditions is that each of us is born to be of service to the greater good of humanity and to contribute to making the world a better place for others, not only for ourselves. When our lives are lived in service to this plan, we will feel that sense of inner peace grow stronger within us because we are aligned with our deepest purpose for living. We are “right on.” If you think with your heart, you will succeed in making the right choices. Every act of kindness and forgiveness put forth, each dollar of donation, every decision of “living lightly on the Earth” is recorded and weighs in for the collective total of each individual’s “worth” as a human being in service to the greater good. In this light, your individual actions and every little choice you make about your trash, your purchases, your words and your beliefs are very important in this life and they do matter. Most important of all is your contribution to world peace through your own spiritual, mental, emotional and physical healing, so remember to add that thought to your awareness everyday. The more healed we are as individuals, the more united we are in our understanding that all creatures on this planet are sharing one life source. We are all in this together. Keep thinking peace, feeling peace, wishing peace and expecting that world events will miraculously turn peaceful at any moment. Although these words may sound to be “easier said than done,” peace is the only weapon which can truly win “the war against terrorism” by refusing to spread more terror on the Earth. It is our secret, invisible strength and worth our while to practice all we can.

Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine .