How can we balance the need to fight for social and environmental justice with the desire for inner peace and contentment?
I believe the two should go together hand in hand. If we fight for social justice without inner peace—or at least without an effort to cultivate inner peace—our action can be driven by the same kind of destructive anger we are trying to overcome out in the world. If there is simply a quest for inner peace without a concern for social justice, we can easily slip into a narcissistic concern with our inner well-being at the expense of the call for compassionate engagement with the wider social context in which our own life is nested. But when the two are joined, inner balance of mind serves as a platform for developing clear insight into the causes of our predicaments and into practical strategies that can promote effective solutions.
Ajahn Manapo, Motorbike Crash
Painful experience in all its guises is inherently empty; the problem arises when we desire it to be otherwise. When we experience pain the aversion to it is so closely intertwined that the pain appears to be the enemy. There’s depression: we resist. There’s fear: we run. There’s physical pain: we fight. But fighting and running only reinforce and exacerbate these sensations. Reacting gives them a reality they do not truly possess. By letting the pain be – by allowing it, by opening up to it, by putting aside the instinctive, fearful reaction to it – we allow the mind to experience pain for what it is, just as it is. If the painful experience is left alone in this way its sting is removed and its energy harnessed and transformed.