"We don't live in isolated silos, disconnected from everybody else — it just feels that way sometimes. What happens to others inevitably affects us. Even if we have been ignoring or unaware of the situation of those we don't know, we can wake up and see that our lives are actually intricately connected. What happens 'over there' never nicely stays 'over there' — it flows out. And what we do over here matters. This interconnectedness is not only a spiritual realization — science shows us this, economics shows us this, environmental awareness certainly shows us this, and even epidemiology shows us this."
So writes Sharon Salzberg at the beginning of this important book. For ten years, this seasoned Buddhist meditation teacher and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society has wanted to explore the links between activism and the practices of mindfulness and lovingkindness. She believes that change is possible even though many violent, toxic, and dehumanizing forces are at work in the world today. Mindfulness meditation helps strengthen us for the long run; it enables us to deal with our feelings and activate our hearts.
Salzberg writes cogently about the how we can work with anger, grief, and fear in order to create a resilient spirit in a time of unrelenting suffering and woe. In an interesting chapter the author explores making art as social action. She also has some interesting things to say about the emotional burnout, loneliness, and taking care of yourself.
Equanimity is a great gift to those seeking to have an impact on the world. She quotes the poet T.S. Eliot: "For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business." See the practice for some helpful phrases for practicing equanimity. And see the excerpt for the Buddha's advice on navigating the flood of suffering.