As part of an individualistic society, I’m wired to pursue my own success and happiness. When I’m having difficulty sorting through strong disorienting emotions, meditation is a fantastic tool that allows me to sort out my feelings and set a positive course forward. Conversely, when things are going well, I feel entitled to enjoy my life. Since sitting on a cushion often boring or uncomfortable, I tend to avoid it when I’m feeling good.
I’ve also experienced the fulfillment that comes with immersing myself in dhamma, freeing myself from the responsibilities to society and connecting to the pursuit of personal growth and liberation. Dhamma is an uncommon path where I live, but since individualism is common, others have no problem with me walking in a different direction to pursue my own interests. We have all simply chosen to exist in isolated bubbles, and that has seemed acceptable.
Today it seems that our celebration of individuality and choice is polarizing our society causing unresolvable tensions. We need to reconnect with the reality that, whether we like it or not, our lives are connected. To improve our society, we must invest in society, which means prioritizing the whole above the individual. While this makes sense on paper, individualism is so hardwired into me that I’m not sure how to put this into practice. How can we best serve our polarized society?
Dhamma may have the answer. Meditating isn’t supposed to be fun and I don’t think I’m meant to pursue a higher purpose in isolation. Meditating helps me to break down my ego and understand my connection to the people around me. Meditating develops my humility and shows me that society is more important than any individual. By meditating even when my life is good, I’m reminded that life isn’t just about me, and that it’s important to help create peace and harmony for those around me. These seeds of truth are inside all of us. If we can learn to meditate together in a secular way, maybe we can start reducing these tensions and prioritizing the whole above the individual. Celebrating our connections to all life is the path to true happiness. We can still have individualism, but we must learn to admire the individuals role in society, not exclusive to society. Time to meditate.