How cool to see this strategy of unity building in real life! Did her actions change the situation?
I’m not sure whether or not that it did, but it definitely changed my outlook on the situation. Maybe that means it did.
I think that compassion really does come from understanding where people come from and what’s driving them. This makes it easy, in some ways, to not be as agitated when differences in principle come up.
What I really found helpful in Easwaran’s writings, especially about Gandhi, is this idea that Gandhi would speak out and work to change situations that he viewed as unjust or as harmful to all, but he also always stressed the value of coming from a place of love and respect.
You mentioned at the beginning that you use passages to drive your ideals deep. Are there any passages that come to mind on this topic?
One of my favorite passages is “The Sermon on the Mount” with the ideal of loving your enemies as yourself. The loftiness of that ideal, if I can bring that into my life – I mean, we talk about having an impact – that would have such a profound impact to be able to do that.
Another one that’s often in my rotation is “United in Heart.” Again it’s this idea that we are united in these differences. It says to me that there are all these different levels where we can be united, and it’s an ideal to strive for.
What do you think is the broader impact when someone lives out their spiritual principles?
It’s an interesting question. I whole-heartedly believe Easwaran’s message that one person practicing their spiritual principles can change the world. So practicing the eight points is really a huge contribution not only to our families, but our communities, and the broader world.
But I also think there’s an impact I can have on social issues. I recognize that as one person there’s a limited amount that I can do, but if I continue to work with others who are like minded, and I’m persistent with it, and I keep trying new things, then I think there could be an impact.
Interesting. Are there ways you’re using your spiritual practice to engage with people who have different principles then you?
As it happens, one place where I regularly work on how to engage on differences of principle is with my own wife.
While we do have similar values, we sometimes differ in our opinion of their execution. In the past, these differences often led to stormy disagreements and tended to involve not a lot of listening on my part and a fair bit of digging in my heels. But, in recent years, I've made a concerted effort to listen better, to understand and indicate understanding of her perspective and feelings.
This often involves repeating the mantram to manage the fluctuations in my mind, and while I can't say I've always consciously used them, slowing down, one pointed attention, and sense training have also played a role.