Cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Meade once wrote the oft-quoted line, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
When we meditate on compassion and on how we, in our smallness, can make a difference in the world, let’s embrace Meade’s view of what a “small group of committed people…” can do to change our world.
When we begin to practice meditation, we can find ourselves caught up in our claustrophobic sense of self, lacking compassion for ourselves as well as for others. When confronted within the narrow confines of our mind, we can find ourselves caving in on ourselves.
Compassion explodes this sense of self, radiating our concern for ourselves out to others, realizing that they, like ourselves, wish to be happy and to be free from suffering. We realize that in the process of learning to meditate, we encounter ourselves “…perpetuating violence towards our wandering mind, our wayward will…” – James Finley (see footnote).
When we begin to cease “perpetuating violence towards…” ourselves, then we can begin to make the commitment to change the world. The commitment to change our mind makes the path of changing the world a purpose-driven one, a path of change for the good of the world.
When we begin to meditate and find ourselves wondering how we can use the gains that we’ve made in working with our mind to better the world, all we need to do is to remember Meade’s words. All that we need to do to encourage ourselves to stay with our practice, to become familiar in working with our mind, is to remember that by showing up in life, more present and more compassionate, we are helping to change the world.
So, the next time that you find yourself reluctantly approaching your meditation practice, reflect upon the fact that by learning to meditate, you can “selfishly” and “wisely” change the world. By gaining the benefit of meditation for yourself, you can also help to change the world, one thought at a time, one moment at a time, one precious compassionate impulse at a time. Never, never underestimate the power that you have to create change by working with your mind.
As always, please feel free to share your comments. Let me and others know whether you find this post relevant and whether you feel that, heeding Margaret Meade’s advice, you feel able to be a member of this (not so) small group, committed to changing the world. And, as always, please feel free to contact me if you’d like to see additional content or other discussions on this site. For more information on how to meditate, exercises in working with the breath, and other nifty stuff, please see the Related Posts below.
Also, don’t forget to download the free ebook, Can Meditation Change the Way that You View Your World?, for help with getting started in you meditation practice. Also, you can download the ebook, How to Work with the Four Distractions to Meditation.
Also, please check out the media drop-down menu in the navigation bar at the top of this page, where you can links to articles, MP3 tracks for downloading, and videos on the subject of meditation.
Finley, James. Christian Meditation. San Francisco: Harper, 2004, pg. 279.