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Lions Roar : November 2016
LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2016 62 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that many of our social and political problems arise because we have separated love and power, or heart and mind. We’ve forgotten that kindness is inherent to the human heart, so we consider love a sentimental and anemic force. In terms of mind, we are capable of such intelligence and strength, but without love, that power becomes abusive. This imbalance creates a per- petual unfolding of doubt and struggle, only confirming our perceived inadequacies and increasing a feeling of alienation from ourselves and our environment. It is important to ask ourselves: Underneath the day-to-day stress, how does it feel to be human? Is there natural kindness, wisdom, and strength? Can we make the time for such a contemplation, indi- vidually and collectively? The simple act of reflection on our own experience and basic nature has the power to bring us into a more spacious environment. Out of that space, care arises naturally, and as more of us feel our goodness, the future of humanity and our planet will shift. We might wonder, what good can one self-reflective thought do? Yet when we get up in the morning, we routinely put our mind on thoughts of hope or fear, which has a powerful effect on our life. In our modern society, people experience a lot of self-loathing and self-aggression. That comes from thoughts of unworthiness. In addition, we may have been taught at home, school, or church that simply by hav- ing been born, we are inherently faulty or incomplete. Yet despite degradation, cruelty, and a life constantly inundated with anger and jealousy, human goodness does remain intact, hidden within. If, by taking a moment to self-reflect, we realize the pre- ciousness of our life and our connection with others, we can begin to feel the goodness that has sus- tained humanity throughout all time. In this seemingly insignificant moment when we feel our own goodness, a seismic shift occurs. Liberated of doubt regarding our nature, we see a vast new horizon of human possibility. In the practice of self-reflection, we ask the question, how do I feel? Daily life is challenging, and there are plenty of opportunities to think human nature is bad. But the simple experience of feeling what is in your heart is a powerful seed of personal and social change. Even feelings such as hot or cold, awake or sleepy—all connect us to our humanity. Through the experience of feeling our heart, we discover basic goodnesss. No matter how difficult and painful life might be, basic goodness is undiluted by conditions, for it can- not change. Obstacles and challenges may arise, but they do not reduce the enlightened qualities at our dis- posal. If enough of us can feel our goodness—even in a period of great difficulty—society will not break down but actually become stronger, because the basis of any society is how individuals regard themselves. We can see basic goodness in the human wish to communicate, which is always present. No matter how confused things are, our underlying longing to communicate with others is a reflection of our goodness. We can see basic goodness in conversations between parents and children, and in any rela- tionship in which we express love, empathy, and patience. An enlightened society begins with the con- nection between two people. It’s happening billions of times a day. When there is a lack of patience or connectivity, that is a sign that humanity has forgotten its nature. At such moments, how do we react to pain, indecision, or uncertainty? Do we become more selfish? Do we become more angry? What is our response going to be? We must each take personal responsibility for the future we’re creating. If humanity is to survive—and not only that, to flourish—we must be brave enough to find our basic human wisdom and let it shine. We uncover it by beginning to examine our assumptions. We may have never before seriously contemplated human nature, but in order to move forward as a global community, it is vital that we do it now. Is it really our nature to be fearful and aggressive, or could it be that we are actually gentle and fearless at heart? Underneath the stress and anxiety, is it possible there is peace? If our self-reflection turns up an inkling of that, we can draw power from it, daring to shift our destiny. The modern identity is complex, but we all rise in the morning and wonder, what is my place in the universe? When we feel our goodness, a shift occurs: we get curious, which sparks care. We begin