“We don’t need to save the world, just spend it more wisely” – Swami Beyondananda
We all want to fix the world, whether we realize it or not. On a conscious level, many of us feel inspired to save the planet for altruistic or ethical reasons. On an unconscious level, our efforts to serve as Earth stewards are driven by a deeper, more fundamental behavioral programming known as the biological imperative -the drive to survive. We inherently sense that if the planet goes down, so do we. So, armed with good intentions, we survey the world and wonder, “Where do we begin?”
Terrorism, genocide, poverty, global warming, diseases, famine… stop already ! Each new crisis adds to a looming mountain of despair, and we can be easily overwhelmed by the urgency and magnitude of the threats before us. We think, “I am just one person-one out of billions. What can I do about this mess?” Combine the enormity of the mission with how small and helpless we imagine we are, and our good intentions soon fly out the window.
Consciously or unconsciously, most of us accept our own powerlessness and frailty in a seemingly out-of-control world. We perceive ourselves as mere mortals, just trying to make it through the day. People, on presuming helplessness, frequently beseech God to solve their problems.
The image of a caring God deafened by a never-ending cacophony of pleas emanating from this ailing planet was amusingly portrayed in the movie, Bruce Almighty , in which Jim Carrey’s character, Bruce, took over God’s job. Paralyzed by the din of prayers playing endlessly in his mind, Bruce transformed the prayers into Post-It notes only to become buried under a blizzard of sticky paper.
While many profess to live their lives by the Bible, the perception of powerlessness is so pervasive that even the most faithful seem blind to the frequent references in the scriptures that extol our powers. For example, the Bible offers specific instructions in regard to that looming mountain of despair: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.“1 That’s a hard mustard seed to swallow. All we need is faith, and nothing will be impossible for us? Yeah . . . right!
But, seriously, with these divine instructions at hand, we ask ourselves, “Is our presumed powerlessness and frailty a true reflection of human abilities?” Advances in biology and physics offer an amazing alternative-one that suggests our sense of disempowerment is the result of learned limitations. Therefore, when we inquire, “What do we truly know about ourselves?” we are really asking, “What have we learned about ourselves?”