Acts of bravery, important discoveries and extraordinary events are celebrated by all. But who bravely celebrates with enlightened awareness his own many mistakes? More often we greet them with moodiness, denial, excuse, embarrassment or even self-defense.
A mistake should be an overture to progress.
We grow as we correct what fails to work. Yet, as everyone knows, the reversing of slips and faults can proceed at a snail’s pace, on the global level especially. Witness, for example, today’s frequent eruptions of ethnic and religious strife. “Fails to work” would seem to be the objective!
Ours is an era that cries aloud for a new, inspired expression of unity and understanding. Cultures, countries and individuals oppose one another on the basis of entrenched beliefs, unwilling to perceive as artifice the dogmas and details that hold them apart. To see these divisions for what they are—vanities and adversities born of ego—is a step in the right direction, but problems that are solved in the mind alone are problems that stay unsolved.
More and more we have turned to science for answers to issues that tend to reveal its intrinsic limitations. Science is committed to facts, empirical data and material reality. It is hardly the genie that will grant us an end to such overt mistakes as greed, bigotry, war and abuse of the precious resources that sustain us.
What, then, can make the difference?
What can bring us together in ways that capture the heart and stir the soul?
Meditation as a spiritual practice, far more than merely a remedy for stress, offers an inner experience that enlightens and changes lives. Further, it kindles a feeling of oneness that heals and dissolves the grievances that divide us. Who, after all, having tasted the sweetness that deep meditation imparts, would prefer the bitter menu of conflict and despair?
Consider, too, that meditation bridges the gap between peoples of different faiths. As a form of self-offering, it is nonsectarian, ecumenical, and uniquely individual. Indeed, it fulfills the purpose of all religions, for the aim of meditation is divine communion.
While none of us imagines that meditation will suddenly acquire universal acceptance, its power to free us “from dire fears and colossal suffering” is manifestly clear, especially in spiritual communities such as ours. Our good fortune in being drawn to Ananda is a gift of quintessential grace. As Swami Kriyananda would say, without exaggeration, what we are doing at Ananda is the most important work on the planet today.
The chances are probably nil that any of us will see an end to the glaring social and political mistakes that keep getting recycled. Nor does this early age of energy, Dwapara Yuga, promise major advances in global consciousness either. But thankfully with meditation, we can learn to “stand unshaken” amid the crashing of old, faulty designs and patchwork repairs. And we can make those post-Dwapara advances here and now.
Years ago, on one of the last days of my Meditation Teacher Training at Ananda Village, we studied 25 ways to bring meditation into daily life. For me these captured the ultimate objective: to live its inner experience from minute to minute, regardless of where or under what conditions. I emphasize those 25 ways in the classes I teach today, but I also add a 26th: Appreciate your mistakes, honestly and free of judgment, as a means to moving beyond them more quickly, correctively, gratefully and joyfully.
The craziness that characterizes much of today’s news stems from people’s adherence to old, incompetent logic when it comes to addressing recurrent ills and disputes. Never has this logic succeeded in creating what everyone wants: peace, prosperity, and a life unfettered by dogmas and decrees. The obvious will continue to lie unnoticed, or at least un-acted upon, by those in political command, which is all the more reason that we should “dare to be different” by deepening our sadhana in these tumultuous times, and by meditatively practicing Sister Gyanamata’s prayer: “Change no circumstance in my life. Change me.” It works.