Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. –Rumi
“Arab Spring” is the term often used to describe an ongoing series of protests and wars spreading through the Arab world in the last two years. The term sounds promising and full of hope, although the conflicts themselves, regardless of the outcome, have caused a great deal of suffering.
I read that one slogan of the demonstrators has been Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam, “the people want to bring down the regime.” Many of us can understand this sentiment, whether in support of people seeking more freedom in other countries, or wanting change in our own country, or just change in our own lives.
In the United States, there has been much talk bringing down the regime (American style). But what is the regime and what does bringing it down look like? The rhetoric from the last campaign and the subsequent fiscal cliff fiasco make it hard to distinguish the regime holder from the challenger. While the two sides argue about which way to paddle, the canoe sweeps ever faster toward the rapids and the falls.
Make love, not war.
Personally, I think we had it right back in the 60s with the slogan Make love, not war. True, we were naive and had no clue about how to live that slogan in any sort of socially productive way. But I think we had the right idea in that we understood the truth of Buddha’s teaching that “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”
Even so, we succumbed to the same mistake as those we sought to replace, by thinking that we could change things by changing others. I was like that, too. I thought I had the answer to any question about what our country should look like, and I was angry and dismissive towards anyone who disagreed with me. Make love, not war, you idiots! Hmm.
Changing ourselves is how we change the world.
Gandhi encouraged us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” Making love instead of war means being love. Vishnu understands this. His tagline for this blog is “Change yourself. Change the world.” Those aren’t two separate acts. Changing ourselves is how we change the world. In fact, it’s the only way to change the world.
So we start with bringing down our own regime, experiencing our own Inner Spring.
My Inner Spring began years ago when I knew I needed to change my life. My regime was based on fear and governed by threats. If I didn’t control my world, meaning everything and everyone outside of myself, then disaster was sure to happen. I don’t know that I brought down my regime as much as it sort of fell down by itself. It was not sustainable and began to crumble in spite of my frantic efforts to maintain it.
I finally surrendered to the inevitable, and only then, in the relinquishment of force, did I discover the lightness of being, our natural state of joy. I’ve since learned that the way we bring down our regime and experience our Inner Spring is by practicing the qualities we want to see in our world. As the bumper sticker says, compassion is revolution. So is joy, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude. And as we manifest our Inner Spring, World Spring is sure to follow.
Galen Pearl is one of my favorite bloggers and a wise teacher. She regularly posts though-invoking reflections on her blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place. Her practical and relevant book on happiness can be found here. I’ve found it to be a life-changer. * Photo credit.
What about you? What does you current regime look like? Is there anything in it that you want to bring down or transform? Are you living your Inner Spring? What would that look like?