A line from one of Swami Vivekananda’s speeches has always disturbed me. In it, he says, that there is an equal balance of good and bad in this world at any given time. So it makes absolutely no difference what good you do, because it will be balanced by someone doing something bad in some other corner of the world. But that this is the principle of harmony and order the world follows.
I read the words to this effect over a decade ago, but it’s this year – 2011 – that I begin to understand them.
When we begin a spiritual journey, we begin with a certain amount of spiritual motivation – to change the world, to be an example, and to be what we want to see in the world. This is a necessary part of the journey, and not all of it is misplaced enthusiasm. A lot of good is done in this world by people who are driven by a self-belief that it is their mission to make a difference. Yet, in it, is the implication, that somehow we know better.
And yet, we forget, that the world – in the infinite wisdom of the Creator – is a complex system of checks and balances. That justice exists in nature. That just as an earthquake of a certain intensity must and inevitably will create a corresponding displacement of water in a tsunami on the other side somewhere. You’d think we would have figured out by now, with all our technology, that that same principle of justice works across the board – in our families, in our actions, in our morals.
Why then, do we feel cheated, robbed and short-changed? Why do we feel ‘others prosper when I work so hard’ or ‘no matter what I do it doesn’t seem to be enough’.
1. Because our time frames are not lifespans but soulspans. In the duration of the existence and unfolding of your soul, justice is done. That may be one lifetime, that may be more…. but what do people who don’t believe in karma or rebirth do then?
2. Justice perceived is not necessarily justice. our concepts of justice are so subjective that we go by feeling, instinct and what is apparent. Justice that is deeper, with roots in the Truth is doled out at a much higher level. In my experience when Justice is done, even it is many years later, it always gives you the awareness of what you are getting it back for. You know. Even if you never let on – you always know if you are being punished or blessed and why.
What makes us think we are here to change the world? If you look at the cleansing the world has gone through in 2010 alone – and its an impact most of us have felt in our personal lives as well with some relationships ending, beginning anew, faded torn friendships fading away and other ties to associations becoming stronger – is that not evidence enough that the Truth, no matter how many years it is buried for, eventually comes to light? Whether it’s Wikileaks, the Radia Tapes in India, Bofors, or the multiple scams that beset countries and organisations, when has Wrong ever gotten away with it? Wrong that has been done eventually gets undone.
Even if Justice does not seem to have been served by a judge or a jury or by public opinion, in any of these cases, they do not seem to form the system that counts in the long run. The system in place is an eventual restoration of harmony in the world. Some cultures call it Yin and Yang, but if you send a ripple out in the world you will, in all probability meet with an equal and opposite reaction. It’s as simple as a law of Physics. This is the principle of cosmic harmony. This is why all of us, even inadvertently, harm someone, and are harmed in some small way in return.
Self-flagellation and goals like ‘the eradication of all poverty, hunger, anger, ill-will’ (to me) now seem idealistic and impractical. Im working towards not looking at someone’s anger (for example) as the ultimate expression of evil in that person, but as, well, anger. When you see it for what it is, it diminishes in value. Their anger could be a leaf, a flower or a stone in this world for all that matter: it is a thing of this world. That’s it. It is so much easier then to take it for granted, ignore it, or move it out of your way. The trouble begins when we worry over it, view it from various angles and try to ‘change’ it.
Every religious text tells you apparent evil has its place – to act as a counter to good. How would Jesus have been resurrected without someone to nail Him to the cross? Who would know of Ram, if He hadn’t a Ravan to destroy? Sometimes, and I am not recommending Evil as a career option, the evil we encounter in the world has its place and has a right to be there as much as we, with our good intentions, do. It is Act 3 in a 5-act play.
And I’m not saying don’t try. Try. Apologise, do good, give. But don’t beat yourself up if what you do doesn’t give you the result you want or are looking for. Justice and Good is as inevitable as Injustice and Failure. Go back to page 1 of the play where they list the characters of the play: you may not be the lead, you may be supporting cast, you may even be villain. Its okay. Play your role. Let it go.
To me, 2011 is not about changing the world. Its about finally understanding what Swami Vivekananda said two centuries ago: The world was here first. Whatever I presume I can teach it, it knows. Best, I find a way to know what it has to teach me. I will not be the change I hope to see in the world. I will just be. And hope the world sees the change in me.