A tsunami and earthquake hit the city of Sendai, Japan, where I spent two years of my life, on Friday. While I tried to carry on with my day, it was a bit difficult. The bicycle path elevated above rice fields where I rode to the ocean on the weekend from my apartment is gone along with the fields and houses. I don't know if the students and friends I had there are alive or not. The ripple effects or aftershocks of this earthquake were felt inside my very own heart. It left me feeling hopeless for a day or so. While it seems this tragedy is on the other side of the world far from many of us, I realize it is not that far removed from any of us. We are all affected by anything that happens on the planet. The feelings, thoughts and words of one single person can cause a ripple effects across the entire planet. So what can I do about it? What is the answer to something so devastating?
Last night I found the answer after two days of feeling a bit numb and helpless. I am the answer. I found it while I was sitting in a movie theater near the University of Washington with a handful of other people watching director Tom Shadyac's movie called, believe it or not, I AM. The Los Angeles Times had this to say about it: "The accent (of the movie) is on big-picture optimism and the interconnectedness of all life..." And if we are in fact all "interconnected," as the movie suggests, then what we feel, say and do in this world is so important. The overwhelming state of the world at times can leave each of us feeling helpless. After all, what can "I" as a tiny human being, do to solve the world's problems?
On the outside, the truth is, probably very little can be done from my efforts. I can offer donations, monetary aid and prayers. I could fly overseas and roll up my sleeves and pitch in. Yes, there are certainly things I could do on the outside. But I know that the "real" work begins on the "inside." If each one of us takes entire responsibility for ourselves and our own feelings, thoughts and actions from the inside, then how different our world would be on the outside.
I am the answer and so are YOU. It may sound new agey or weird and at one point in my life I might have scoffed at this very idea and thought, "Now that's wacko." But I don't believe that anymore because my own experience has shown me differently. I have seen how the words I write can have a tremendous effect on the people around me. I have received e-mails and comments from people all over the world on many occasions letting me know that they can relate or that they feel these things to be true or that the words I have written were exactly the words they needed to hear. This hasn't happened once, it's happened dozens of times. And I realize that my words are NOT the important thing at all. In fact, the words themselves have very little to do with what is happening here. The truth is, we are CONNECTED...all of us! We all breathe this air. What is happening here is about intention. I have good intentions in me which were somehow awoken by my choices and situations I encountered in life and those intentions are waking up the intentions in you and your good intentions are also awakening the intentions of those around you as well. And it just keeps going and going.....None of us can OWN these words or this goodness or the dhamma or the scriptures or the laws of nature or ANY OF IT. We are all in it, we are all a part of it and what we do here is so important. It starts with you!
So now, a year before my book is about to launch, I am coming up against some Mara or obstacles, if you will. I feel I am being shaken. My new point of reference in the universe causes unease for some people around me. Thankfully, the number of people who feel unease in what I am doing and want to shake things up is no where near the number of people who have supported what I am doing. So I have to say to YOU out there who have encouraged me: THANK YOU....your intentions and the ripple effects of those intentions have been felt! Keep shining and keep spreading your good intentions, you don't know what a positive effect it can have on you, the people around you, the world and beyond! We all play a part in this and it doesn't matter where we come from or what we believe or who we follow. We are all in this together.
Also on my blog: Lessons from the Monk I Married