We all want to change the world for the better.
And we know that the problems we face as a civilization are so numerous, the work we have before us is so immense, it’s hard to know where to begin. Shall I care for the homeless in my city, or go build schools and hospitals in Africa? Shall I turn my backyard into an organic farm, or devote myself to a political cause;,maybe organize a march on Washington or Wall Street?
There are millions of people who feel the call. Millions of people are working to build a better future, in a million different ways. Millions more are still wondering, “What can I do? How can I make a difference?”
Stop right there.
Stop working. Stop wondering. Just stop.
Be here now.
We all want to change the world. But there is only one thing in all the world that is within our power to change: our selves.
The ten thousand problems of society—fracking and gun violence, investment fraud, rape culture and hate crimes, and on and on—are symptoms of a fundamental delusion in our minds. They result from unconscious, unquestioned assumptions that distort the way we see the world, set our priorities, and make our decisions.
We consume more than we need, in irresponsible ways, because we are not conscious of the impact. We ignore people and hurt people—often people we love and care about—because we are not conscious of what we say and do. We play along with the broken system of oppression and exploitation because we are not conscious of our power, our freedom of choice.
We can’t legislate our way out of it. We can’t force people to live mindfully and ethically. Treating the symptoms of our madness has us running in a hundred different directions at once.
If we want real change, we have to heal the underlying condition: our own unconsciousness.
You want to save the world? Do this one thing:
Stop. Breathe. Relax.
Bring your attention to this moment, to this breath. Learn to look inside and see the subconscious patterns playing out. Make the darkness conscious. Let fear and judgment and false beliefs dissolve in the calm, pure light of awareness.
Practice being present, and living life wide-awake.
Awake to the decisions that you face, the direction of your life, the ways that spend your money and your time; awake to the people around you, and the chances that you have to touch their spirit, to help them ease the pain of living; awake to the boring, ordinary moments that we tend to cruise through on autopilot.
You want to save the world?
Give the gift of your conscious presence, your clarity and compassion. Give the gift of your radiant smile, your innocence and joy. Offer the world your kind soul, your caring hands, your wide-open heart.
Because that’s what the world needs, is all of us, awake and present and ready for anything.
Editor: Renée Picard
About the author
Ben Neal is a father, a musician, a mystic poet and lover of Zen. He lives with his beloved in Kansas City, writing and teaching meditation and experiential spirituality, tending his garden, raising his son and riding the wave of global Awakening. He loves to have passionate philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality over hand crafted Belgian-style ale. He aims to suck the marrow out of life, and infect the world with unbounded Love and Freedom. Connect with him on Facebook or on his blog.