Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Reader comment on Brother David Steindl-Rast's passage ...

Contemplation Vs. Social Change

On Oct 3, 2009 Somik Raha wrote:

I found myself asking what the author of this piece really means by "changing the world much more by changing yourself." At a fundamental level, when doing deep contemplation, wisdom arises when I see my bad habits in slow motion, and develop a deep determination to break them. I start seeing that what I valued earlier was not really good for me, and there are more important things to value. In a sense, the value system gets an upgrade. When I go back to the world of action, I still try to be consistent with my value system. The difference is - I now have an upgraded value system. When I take decisions with this new value system, I am doing things that help me more truly. When I am helped more truly, the more truly I want to help others. Somehow it is the innate desire in all of us - that the more we receive and grow, the more we want others to receive and grow. With each upgrade of awareness, I start to appreciate different things - self-sufficiency, service, freedom to explore myself, and so on. And as I help others with these things, there is a direct change in the world. The world also changes in another way - by the idea of "monkey see, monkey do." We all hold someone or the other as an ideal to follow, and when that ideal sets an example in their own life, we try to emulate, resulting in change. It is important then for us to set good examples for we never know who might be emulating.

From the starting line of the post, the word "rebel" springs to mind. What am I rebelling against? I'm tested as temptations to resort to the old habit-patterns arise. That is where the idea of being a rebel is helpful - I need to rebel against the old habit-patterns.

Finally, an experience where all of this came together. I am part of a group which encourages service and random acts of kindness on a campus. Instead of following the traditional path of getting as many people signed up on admit weekend, we decided to focus on service. We came up with gifts for new students that we hoped would help them - an orientation guide and a wisdom scroll (which started off with Karma Kitchen and is rolled in Wednesdays). During the fair, the sign-up sheet started distracting us, so we turned it upside down. It made a big difference in our volition and we felt relieved that we didn't need to care about who was signing up. We just needed to focus on serving with our full hearts. The experience was transformational at many levels. Here is a writeup for those who are interested.

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