How to move from individual to collective action, The Bystanders
May we have the courage to keep moving forward.
If you haven't been living under a rock for the last several days/years, you'll likely have some unresolved concerns about the state of our world. It seems that we are sliding towards a future that feels less free than what we might have expected. From bodily autonomy, to environmental equilibrium, there are glaring conditions that make uncertainty and anxiety a real hinderance to joyfully experiencing everyday life. One of the challenges that regularly arises is when we ask, "I am only one person, what can I do?"
Given all that continues to rapidly shift in our lifetime, we must be willing to adapt in order to respond rather than react. We are all aware that life is typically not ideal. There will always be situations that cause us to re-examine our priorities, values, and choices. There will never be a static state of conditions that will be a result of some human activity. Like everything that exists, we are constantly shifting and changing - there is not a single molecule that is in it's original position or configuration. Similarly, we will always be changing within ourselves, and the external circumstances of this world will continue to change.
The beauty of wisdom traditions is that they offer us a reminder that our access to insight, creativity, curiosity, and love come from within us and are not dependent on any external circumstances or sources. In order to effectively utilize the renewable resource of our intelligence and wisdom, we must be willing and able to find steadiness, equanimity, and compassion under all circumstances. We already possess uninterrupted access to our awareness, intellect, and intelligence; the challenge is to effectively embody them. Meditation, yoga, and other forms of "spiritual" practice are embodiment practices - even if they purport to be transcendental or are utilized in pursuit of escaping this earthly existence - here, now, in these bodies, with these minds is where our practices take place.
It is for our own good that we dispense with narratives that suggest that cultivating our connection with practices rooted in history are something meant for luxury, are only for people who have excess time, are selfish or for the purpose of escaping or "transcending" this world, or any other spiritual fantasies that suggest that personal and collective liberation are somehow separate and require separate means. As an example, if we entertain that idea that we will be able to achieve perfect lasting peace somewhere far away from the troubles of this world, from other people, or from the "real world," we will never be able to embrace life as it is, nor will we find our inherent capacity to face discomfort with grace, dignity, or compassion.
To be blunt, if we hope to see this world become a place where all forms of life can thrive, co-exist, and collaborate, we must abandon the idea of domination through force of violence, and embrace the real conditions of this world by slowing down, observing, and responding with patience, love, and curiosity. In order to slow down, we must observe our own bodies, minds, and the conditions that they carry in order to find enough spaciousness with which to respond and participate in this world. If we hope to work with the conditions of this world to make them more equitable, and to create a culture of liberation, we must organize to move from individual to collective action.
Here are some thoughts on how to move from individual to collective action.
Inspired by The Bystanders - Cave of Clear Light