My Vipassana practice is changing my understanding of what it means to help people. The injustices of this world and the apathy of the people living in it have always stuck out to me. For over a decade I’ve tried to figure out how to fight against these injustices and to inspire apathetic people. While I’ve developed wonderful friendships with like-minded people on this quest for change, I’ve always been a bit disappointed by the lasting results. While my actions might be able to create change for a day or a week, over months and years injustices remain unjust and apathetic people remain apathetic. Nevertheless, I continued to fight for change each day hoping that today would be the day that I really made a difference. At times I think I was just boosting my own ego by telling myself, “At least I’m trying to make thing better” which automatically puts me on a pedestal relative to people who aren’t trying. Of course, if the only result is additional ego, my actions might be worse than the person doing nothing.
Everything we fight for we will also need to fight to keep. The moment that effort ceases, the environment will return to its natural state. To create a more permanent change, the change must happen naturally and by choice. This is a long and hard process that often feels impossible. It’s easier to demonstrate rapid changes. We fed this many homeless people, built this many houses, provided this many condoms, etc. But it’s not these physical changes that last. It’s the individuals and relationships that really facilitate long-term change.
Vipassana has taught me the importance of changing myself instead of trying to change everything around me. By learning to love myself, and emitting unconditional love to the people around me, I can help inspire others to learn how to love themselves. All of these external changes are secondary, and should happen naturally, once people learn how to love themselves and eventually the people around them instead of fighting all the time. I’ve been learning how to stop fighting. Through love we can learn to multiply our efforts rather than wasting energy tearing down each others accomplishments.
Vipassana meditation presents a long and slow path, but this path represents lasting positive change. I’m still learning how to love the world around me but I’ve made tremendous progress loving myself and loving my family. I’m excited to see how this path will impact me and the people around me over the next 3 to 5 years. That’s the time scale to observe true change. Time to go meditate.