Come gather around people / Wherever you roam / And admit that the waters / Around you have grown / And accept it that soon / You’ll be drenched to the bone / If your breath to you is worth saving / Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / For the times they are a-changing – Bob Dylan
How effective is our social action? In Buddhism there is a term, “the infinite chain of causation.” Similarly, Newton’s Third Law states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The world now is a cacophony of causative reactions, an infinite house of mirrors—wherever you look, whatever you hear, this cascade of noise, half truths, lies, deceptions are all swirling down and down to the place we cannot breathe. And yet our breath is indeed worth saving. How do we swim in these waters without drowning? Another Buddhist expression: “don’t just do something, sit there.” Maybe our best course is to “let go of the shore, keep to the center of the river” (from Hopi Elders’ Prophecy). The Chinese expression, wu wei means strategic non-action, to do without doing. Can we simply breathe and keep our heads above the torrent? The Tao Te Ching advises, “Do that which consists in taking no action and order will prevail.”
In the summer of 1993 a carefully controlled scientific demonstration was carried out by a group of Transcendental Meditators in Washington D.C. where violent crime had been steadily increasing. A week or so after the start of the study, violent crime (homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults, measured by FBI Uniform Crime Statistics) decreased and continued to drop until the end of the experiment. The group had publicly predicted they would reduce the trend of crime by 20 percent. The chief of police had ridiculed the idea and asserted that the only thing that would decrease crime that much would be 20 inches of snow. In the end, the maximum decrease was 23.3 percent. Check the website worldpeacegroup.org/washington_crime_study.html or bit.ly/2jaEvfK for the actual study.
Here in Taos I know of several prayer and meditation groups with which one could involve oneself. Sage Institute’s Leadership Training Program is evolving into a Sangha (a coherent meditation group) for both learning how to teach meditation and mindfulness to others and gathering together to form a matrix of transformational peaceful practices. sagetaos.com
Also Unity of Taos, in addition to its Sunday services that hold fast to the group intention of peaceful coming together in a non-judgmental, all-inclusive respite from the chaotic world, holds a Wednesday prayer circle for healing. The Prayer Team for Affirmative prayer meets at 10 a.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Unity in the dome. unityoftaos.org
Online, the HeartMath Institute sponsors the Global Coherence Initiative, an international effort that seeks to help activate the heart of humanity and promote peace, harmony and a shift in global consciousness. They hold synchronous Heart Coherence Sessions, which you can join through their website heartmath.org/gci
We see the chain of causation in action right now in the headlines. As women and men are bursting forth with the truth of myriad ways in which they have been oppressed, belittled, manipulated and abused, one of the unintended consequences is that we are silencing some of the most important voices on other issues. Something is terribly wrong when an actor who portrays a corrupt president in a show that portrays a corrupt White House, is (fired) while worse is taking place with the actual president in the actual White House.
Perhaps the most relevant non-harming social action any of us can do now is to keep silent while holding mightily to the intention of peace and harmony and right relationship. Our breath is worth saving, worth giving our attention to, worth applying through strong attention to a transformation of consciousness. We can’t solve the problems of the world with the same mind that created them. Stopping allows a deeper mind, a creative, harmonious, peaceful mind to emerge and show us the way through this cacophony of discord that, we learn from history, has actually been building for centuries.
– Rappaport is a Taos area resident.