Life is complicated and our challenges are diverse. For this reason, if we’re to change the world for the better, we need different kinds of revolutionaries – we need everyone.
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can. In all the places you can.
At all the times you can. To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.
In the main tradition from which mindfulness sprang, there are several types of beings that wish to benefit others. There’s one who embodies compassion – concern for suffering combined with a desire to alleviate it. Another embodies benevolence – doing good and acting out of kindness. A third embodies wisdom – having clear insight, understanding and discernment. A lucky few of us may embody all of these qualities. The rest of us will do well to align ourselves with others who excel where we fall short.
Compassion softens the harshness we have for ourselves and our perceived rivals, revealing our profound interconnection so that we can value the good in everyone. This quality allows us to be with pain that has no cure and motivates us to hold space in the face of great suffering.
Benevolence empowers us to take action in service of a better world. It motivates us to be of benefit to others, even when there’s no direct external reward, or when there seems to be a cost to us. The benevolent one feels a sense of responsibility and a connection to something greater than the self in this lifetime.
Wisdom allows us to see through ignorance and delusion. Our desires, attachments and preferences take a back seat to truth. We recognize the limitations of our sense organs and fallible human brains. This makes our actions skillful and more likely to result in outcomes that match our intentions.
What kind of a revolutionary are you? Are you a caregiver holding space for those who are struggling? Are you an activist fighting for change in unjust systems? Are you a teacher helping others to understand themselves, the way things have been, how they are, or what could be? Humanity needs you all. May you recognize your strengths and join with others who compliment your gifts.
“…to meet and commune with all of the elements of our unknown future, both the good and the bad …the existential choice to leave the stifling and false safety of conditioned expectations for the ungoverned forests in which we directly encounter our most untamed drives and fears, our spiritual disappointments and delusions…. For those of us with a spiritual path and set of practices, who are willing to leave the home of comfortable assumptions, we have now the choice to say yes to virus pandemic and economic collapse. Yes to mass extinctions of flora and fauna. Yes to the threats of Fascism and, speaking for myself, yes to giving up the urgent need to know and control, even as I participate fully in communities of strategic resistance and resilience… I’m of use to my communities only if I’m able to show up in imperfect wholeness, in intimate and more healed communion, with as much of reality as I can embody.” – Mushim Patricia Ikeda