The movement from me to we is well underway. Forming the emotional bedrock of the emerging world culture, a new lifeway is taking root and spreading exponentially through each succeeding generation. Entire nations shudder and awaken the sleeping giant of the people’s will. We are no longer confined to borders nor defined by the past–we occupy a shared present in constant flux, constantly being recreated in a global vision of possibilities. Old hatreds are passing away as each generation moves closer to a future in which people live in harmonious balance with one another and the environment. Civilization’s priorities are changing before our eyes: competition among people and exploitation of resources are giving way to an ethics of social mutualism and spiritual environmentalism.
But what are the guideposts for acting in the most inspired and inspiring ways in this budding of the Global Spring? Not surprisingly, perhaps, they hearken back to a previous age, before the focus of life became the individual.
Below are five examples that articulate the ethics of such inspired action.
We enter this world with memories of those principles which should govern personal and social conduct–principles that call us to task, demanding that we seek the good and the beautiful, demanding that we honor and respect all life, demanding that we have the opportunity to fulfill our full potential, demanding that we live compassionately and joyfully. Yet our memories of these principles grow dim over time as we are exposed to the cruelty and suffering pervading the world–and dimmer still as we seek to establish a secure and stable life while surrounded by so many others competing for a similar goal. Actively invite the source of those memories to make use of you to bring its principles to life–in this way you recapture the vision with which you came into the world and rededicate yourself to its fulfillment. Radiate unfading optimism and unqualified love for people everywhere and your efforts inspire others to risk sharing your vision.
Personal success is secondary to bringing benefit to others, personal longings are secondary to the legitimate need of others. All people deserve the same rights, all cultures are created equal. We benefit from the efforts of our ancestors–our descendants must benefit from our efforts. We benefit from what our environment produces–our environment must benefit from what we produce. We share a common origin with all life, we share a common destiny with all nature. Principles must reflect the underlying harmony of the world, ideals must be put into action.
Profit brings gain for one at the expense of many, whereas altruism brings gain for many at the expense of one–therefore, the logic of altruism is superior to the logic of profit. Self-interest cannot injure the whole without injuring oneself, whereas self-sacrifice cannot benefit the whole without benefiting oneself–therefore, the logic of self-sacrifice is superior to the logic of self-interest.
The untroubled spirit is untroubled even when things are difficult, the troubled spirit is troubled even when things are going well.
Brightness is the quality of contentment and joy that the untroubled spirit radiates and lightness is the quality of ease and buoyancy of the untroubled spirit’s presence. By diligently cultivating an untroubled peace of mind, we shed every last vestige of worry, distrust, and discontent.
Times of progress emerge from times of stagnation, times of advance follow times of hardship: a common vision emerges from shared adversity. When people no longer seek guidance from those with all the trappings of power and authority, they create projects that are supported by their peers because they provide a meaningful outlet for people’s pent-up energies. Because such projects are conceived from the ground up, they are the collective work of the community, made up of all the lives and talents and efforts and contributions of its members. When greatness is defined by mutual regard and mutual benefit, the totality of individual expressions is bound together by a common purpose and shared lives. In an atmosphere of equality and creativity, people collaborate in altruistic projects voluntarily because it brings them joy to contribute to the whole of which they are a part.
Contentment is not an intellectual state devoid of emotional conscience or social communion–it is, rather, a state of multiplying benefit that strives to overflow its vessel in order to enrich other vessels. The heart must be filled with a vision of a great endeavor, the collective purpose of which explains past events and actions, increases tolerance and understanding among contemporaries, and prepares meaningful responses to future events. People can sacrifice personal fulfillment indefinitely only if they feel themselves contributing to the fulfillment of something greater than themselves. For this reason, meaningless work in exchange for personal material security cannot hold people enthralled very long–nor can threats of losing such meaningless security force compliance in the long run. What is called for is a positive vision of unity that inspires people to set aside past conflicts, accept and respect one another’s potential, and work together toward a goal that ennobles the lives of all concerned. Only when people feel that all partake equally from the pool of resources do they willingly take up as much of the great burden as they can carry. Open your heart to the purpose of human life and your vision will be like a torch for others seeking to perfect their part of creation.