Let’s Start From Scratch

I’m a practical dreamer. I like to fantasize about the outstanding possibilities for humanity, and I’m willing to confront the big challenges that stand in the way. Recently, it has been extremely difficult to curate an optimistic vision with so many barriers. The fundamental challenge we’re facing is the division. Twenty-five years ago, we felt like a united country with two political parties with different views of how to elevate the United States. Today, it feels like we have two separate entities trying to build their own kingdoms on the same land. Instead of working together to build a single grand empire, we take turns building a foundation that the other side will tear down as soon as it’s possible. The entities are so consumed by being right that they’re willing to lie, steal, and hate to get their way. Our devotions to our political beliefs are destroying us, and it’s hard to see where compromise can begin. I don’t believe the solution will come from politics.

Spiritual teachings of morality, integrity, and unconditional love are wonderful unifiers. Unfortunately, religion has lost it’s following over the last century, so this isn’t an easy bedrock to build upon. I’ve never been able to accept one of the many explanations for what happens after death, and I’m not wishing to build a community on blind faith, but the decline of community investment and rise of self-righteousness is very destructive.

An aspect of Vipassana that strongly attracted me was this connection to morality and spiritual growth without the dogma. As I progressed in the Goenka tradition, some dogma seemed to present itself, but I have always latched on to the narrative that I was not asked to accept anything until I had experienced it myself. The effort to share a technique that supports the pursuit of self-discovered truth seems so helpful in our current world. Discovering connection and compassion beneath the surface of countless agitations is a foundation that we could all build on together. The vehicle of 10-day courses is not going to reach everyone, but maybe dhamma can. I don’t know what that would look like, but spreading dhamma is the one pathway that gives me optimism for the future. I think we need to be creative and innovative to build the united kingdom we all want to live in. Time to meditate.


One thought on “Let’s Start From Scratch

  1. Jeff

    Beautiful comments Ryan. I honor and see this side of you that cares deeply for humanity and the relentless pursuit to try and better humanity that has always been with you since I’ve known you. I’ve had similar ideas via different avenues (including meditation practice) regarding teaching our children:
    1. different avenues of discovering their unique value set
    2. how to think critically and be more concerned with finding clarity and “sharpening our sword” with others than being right.
    3. Fostering the belief that the world isn’t something to protect yourself from, as much as it is to learn something from. You can learn something from everyone.
    4. Teaching and allowing for the experience of true intimacy which I believe is trending towards being a lost art as our technological advances move us towards more isolation. I’m not anti technology, I think it’s an amazing tool, we just need time to discover ways to use it more effectively.
    5. Deconstructing the black and white thinking and “I’m right and you’re wrong” mindset that has created so much discord, death, and destruction. Our world is big enough, and was designed to hold, all of our 7.5 billion different viewpoints.

    I for one have hope for our current polarized situation we find ourselves in. I believe the tension is coming to a head, and I sense that the massive amount of tension and energy being created can be redirected and used for positive change.

    Teaching our kids these and other values, with a long term mindset, seems to me to be the best way of addressing our current climate. I have a growing sense that our younger generation is becoming jaded with the greed and power struggles that are dividing us. The “American Dream” ideology seems to have piqued and is coming down the other side.

    I could be completely wrong about all of this, but I’m filled with hope about where our collective “hitting rock bottom” will take us.

    Thank you for inspiring me to consider this Ryan.


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