Like many, I desired a world without problems – no greed, no hunger, no violence, no homelessness, no poverty, no wars, etc. In fact, more than desiring a better world, I viewed the current state of our world as broken and in need of fixing, as sick and in need of healing, as depraved and in need of saving.
The enormity and complexity of the world’s ills drained me, and I’d throw up my hands at the futility of it all. This continued until I decided to stop denying what is and affirm the inherent integrity of the world, its system, and its peoples. I acknowledged with Joseph Campbell that
“The world is great the way it is and we are not going to fix it. We affirm it the way it is and participate in the game.”
By accepting and affirming the way it is, I can get beyond the demotivating futility and fully participate. It’s not an approval or an ignoring of real problems, rather, it is a recognition that until I acknowledge and embrace the reality of a situation, without judgment, then I cannot effectively act upon it. Like my coffee cup on the table, I cannot drink the coffee while it remains at arm’s length. I must first embrace the cup.
It’s our world. It’s our practice.
Life is, in its very essence and character, a terrible mystery - this whole business of killing and eating. But it is a childish attitude to say no to life with all its pain, to say that this is something that should not have been. The world is great the way it is and we are not going to fix it. We affirm it the way it is and participate in the game. We say Yes to it all. Joseph Campbell
Here is a brief excerpt from Jack Kornfield’s book, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, on balancing what is reactive (read now)