Can You Change the World?

19209045.thbA few months ago, I wrote a little satirical piece offering Barack Obama coaching sessions. I assume most of you realized that I did not actually think he would read the post, let alone accept the coaching. It was humor.  But it did generate an interesting response from one of my readers which reads as follows:

My Dear God, Arjuna,
you are so utterly naive!!!
Like the whole non-dual awakening movement who are unwilling to look at the deep agendas behind all this…
awaken for god sake, there is plenty of evidence available, plenty of informed information.. yes it is painful to face the horror of it all..

When people post comments on this blog site, I really have the intention to listen carefully. I am not so sure we can find any one thing called a reality. It is always filtered through the way that we see it. Perhaps the closest we come to experiencing reality, in an integral way, is to absorb and understand as many points of view as possible.

Personally, my day to day life really does not have much horror or nightmares in it at all. Perhaps I am lucky that way. I have a wife who I totally adore, and two grown up sons who have turned out, miraculously, to be really quite balanced and mature. God knows where they got that from.

I do what I love for a living. I do not worry about money, and for an old guy, my health is remarkably good.72496652.thb

My friend Douglas has a point too. There is so much broken about the world right now that you could say that there are more holes than buckets.

I try to go on to Google news each day: the most unbiased way to get the news, because it is sorted by algorithms rather than any editorial bias. More or less, it is a litany of woes. The North Pole is melting. There are wars all over the place. Teenagers are killing people with guns because they are bored. Huge corporations are filling our food with chemicals. I don’t need to go on, you know the story as well as I do.

So here is the question for today, dear friend, and I would really love for you to pop your thoughts into the comments box at the end of the blog. What position can an intelligent person take on the state of the world today?

Faced with layer upon layer of evidence of impending doom, you are still going to get out of bed each day and meet the world. What is the smartest way you can show up which will bring you the least regret?

Some people might advocate immersing yourself in social and political action to try and wrestle the riches from the evil 1%.

Some choose diving into the feeding frenzy and doing their best to become one of the 1% yourself. If the Titanic is going down, you might as well be eating in the first class lounge.

Some people might suggest a spiritual approach: see all this as an illusion and transcend into higher realms.

I would love to hear your thoughts, and I will comment on the most interesting ones next week. In this context, let me finish with a little story that I love:

A man is walking on the top of a cliff late at night. It is very dark. There is no moon. He stumbles and falls, but on his way down to his death, he catches hold of a root poking out of the side of the cliff.

Now here he is, hanging on for dear life. After some time he looks up above himself and at the top of the cliff he can see two tigers have now arrived, growling at him. He looks below and he can see huge waves crashing on the rocks. If he fell, it would certainly be to his death. He holds on to that root even tighter.

Then appear two mice: one white, one black, who begin to gnaw at the very root to which he is clinging that is slightly out of his reach. The man’s situation, to say the least, is hopeless.

wild-strawberryHe looks over to the side and sees, also growing out of the cliff, a wild strawberry plant. Hanging from it is one extremely delicious ripe strawberry. He reaches out to pluck the fruit and puts it in his mouth. “Mmmm,” he says to himself. “Indescribably delicious.”

Today I asked myself, what light does this old story have to shed on our world today?


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5 Responses to “Can You Change the World?”

  1. Kamala Joy September 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm // Reply

    The story at the end says it perfectly. All I have is the choice of being in the present or being in the past or future. As the saying goes, with one foot in the past and another in the future, we piss on the present.

    If I look at the news, or even my own life it’s easy to experience fear, helplessness, dread, sorrow, grief. If I look just at this moment I can experience these things too but they have softness and honestly, even strawberryness.

    I can’t solve world hunger or climate change. All I can do is offer my attention and actions in this moment. There’s a story of Ammachi, the hugging saint, offering 23 million dollars for tsunami victims – more money than she had. The suffering was in front of her, like the throngs of people awaiting hugs at one of her programs. If I was going to offer $23 million in aid for world problems it would take me years because I’d ponder and muse and take advice. I’d want to plan out what causes were the most important, and which aid organizations were trustworthy. In other words, I’d play god, as if my own planning ability and research would ensure the best possible use of the money. Ammachi’s example is different. It’s throwing everything one has into the hat of the present. My analytical mind tells me this is better anyway because it creates a different kind of momentum, the kind of momentum that results from inspiration and compassion instead of dry planning.

    So on a good day I do what’s in front of me. I listen to others. I smile at the cashier and meet their eyes when I ask how their day is going. I rinse out the plastic food container before I throw it into the recycle bin. I give money to a cause when I’m inspired and at the time I’m inspired. I ask myself several times a day if I can be helpful to someone or something in that moment and notice the amount of willingness to be helpful, even if it means taking time I might rather use for my own satisfaction.

    Didn’t mean to write so much! Thanks for the question!


  2. Marieken Volz September 20, 2013 at 1:46 am // Reply

    What if he looks to the other side and sees another person in a similar predicament. Will he collaborate to see if together they can save themselves or one of them? Will he share the strawberry? Will he give the strawberry to the other? In the real world we are not alone and there is opportunity to make meaning. When the situation is hopeless, and you are by yourself, yes, by all means enjoy the strawberry. But that is not where we are. We can make a difference. I am not saying we should not also enjoy the strawberry, but we have each other, we can share information, ideas,etc. We can help others etc. For me, transformation includes transformation in all areas of life. I can happily rest in open awareness and enjoy bliss. I can enjoy the moment, my family, and my idyllic life, but that does not mean I do not want to also do something to improve the plight of others or the planet as a whole.

    I just read this article which I think might point that maybe we all have a unique way in which we balance happiness and meaning.


  3. Petit Silja September 21, 2013 at 9:42 am // Reply

    If i can change the world?

    “If you want to know the religion of a man, do not look at how much he prays and fasts, rather, look at how he treats people.”

    —Imam Jafar al-Sadiq.
    And the result is :
    How i treat myself….that s the only thing i can change…that s the only influence i have in the world…..when the world than changes it s only a result of what each one of us understand of himself….The bigger change is taking place naturally when the little wings of change become higher :-).
    I work in a hospital ,sometimes i have to go to people who are not very kind ,to much busy of themselves ….my fellow worker send me to the sick person because they know i see them in another way and this people show me another side of themselves…sometimes it is really funny……..
    It comes naturally…..this kind of energie take a relationship with the higher waves and of course they change the world……but my purpose is not to change the world,my purpose is to have a good relationship with myself ,to accept my beautiful sides also my dark sides ,my feelings like anger and
    sadness are also ok in the moment they taking place …..
    What you say in the video „Awake“ this image of the monkee who sit of the shoulder and never end to speek..the tric is not to making him stop talking ,the tric is not to pay attention all the time of what he say…..than the monkey talt talk and i smile smile ,.hearing the word very low ….this Perception make my day very very sweeter and it changes ma perception of the world ……and i don t close my eyes for the pain in the world but also i don t close ma heart for the magnifiquence of this world
    and whe say that one wing beat of a butterfly can change energie in the atmosphere…so what wonderfull thing can happen if one people stop to listen to the heart – melting of a monkey…..
    and what i feel more and more is that everything is already done…it s always our egos who have the porpose to change things … to change the world is to discover who we really are….we are not ego,we have a ego but who we are will flourisch in each of us….even in turbulence,the“ I „will not be effectet of it….it stay always unchanged,peaceful …..the look from that place is so pure….

    ….more and more of that feelings…..change the world…….of the ego 🙂

    Thanks so much Arjuna Ardagh for your inspiration


  4. Aaron September 24, 2013 at 6:01 am // Reply

    That story seems to imply two things for me. One is that life is always available to one who looks closely enough at the present moment; another is that one’s attitude and relationship with fear dictate whether or not that is possible.

    I humbly suggest that a rebellious attitude is the only meaningful stance a person can have in this day and age, especially with regards to news and politics. The information we absorb is like a subtle kind of food. I don’t watch news, or even care to, because I know that what I find is never the truth. Society is made up of nothing but individuals, and the only meaningful rebellion is the personal one.

    Really, to understand the state of the world, one must first understand the suffering within oneself, whether it manifests as neuroses, emotional wounds, or physical pain. As one who has suffered greatly from all three, I know that when I am happy, meditative, pain free, and at ease, the world is a beautiful forest, but when I am miserable, wracked with pain, and soul-drainingly tired, the world looks like a desert.


  5. Morgine September 24, 2013 at 7:02 am // Reply

    Can I Change the World?

    I believe I change the world with every thought I think, every breath I take, all the things I choose to do or not do. We are One Source Energy experiencing itself in endless forms. Looking through the eyes of unconditional love, there is nothing wrong. No one is broken and in need of fixing. All parts are Divine and as they need to be here and now.

    We live in the feeling of our thinking, and if I change my perspective about the world, what I “think”, my life is transformed. IF I trust I am always being taken care of by Source/God/Love, and I am always being guided to my highest potential, then I live my life in trust. I can choose to see everyone and everything desiring to live a happy life too. Wanting nourishment for their bodies, clothes, shelter, money, happiness and fun. Their actions are only their own beliefs of how to accomplish that. Many people strive for happiness and peace in different ways, including accumulating massive wealth, killing other people, over working, sacrifice, competition, running away from it all. There are thousands of ways to the top of the very same mountain.

    I feel I change the world by living an inspired life and creating a path for others to follow. I become a living role model for others who need more faith that their dreams are possible. I hold out my hand. I am more enlivened by reaching for what I love instead of draining myself by fighting against what I no longer desire in my life. I look around each day and see Only the Divine in every single person. I am always calling forth the brilliance in others, expecting the best without attachment.

    I know they are me, just wearing a different face, lost in their own confusion, as I was for so long. They are not bad or wrong or horrible. They have only forgotten who they really are and I can help remind them, when they are ready and willing. Until then, I embrace every particle of creation every day with unconditional love. Regardless of the news, I know and trust, we are all in this together. There is a Source of Love bigger than anything we have created or could imagine and It IS always leading us home, with infinite Patience, Wisdom and Understanding when are finally willing to Surrender, let go and let God whisper in our ear, that all is well …..when we follow our hearts …..and there will be a happy ending.


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