Photo: Kim Sallaway
How can anything change when the true enemy is our lack of respect and an abusive need to make someone else wrong so that we can be right? There was no understanding in me to see that their passion and commitment was just as relevant as mine and that perhaps they even had something to teach me, if only I was open enough to listen. Instead, it was just a mutual spewing of ideals, with no resolve or truth, and certainly no love. We were just a bunch of wounded souls trying to push an agenda so that we didn't actually have to deal with our own feelings. I imagine that it felt easier for us to change the world than to change ourselves. No wonder I eventually burnt out.
Over the years, I have met many activists who have had this same need to change or fix intolerable circumstances, but also an unwillingness to look at their own issues, including what might be the motivating factors that are inspiring their interests. When we are not choosing to deal with our own inner life and take responsibility for our feelings, traumas and experience, often we will act out in order to run the currents of energy and to release the tension. Some people drink or do drugs; others, like me, protest. I've seen great and committed activists burn out as a result of their own need to fight. I've watched them blame, project, rage, insult, be arrogant, act superior, not listen or take responsibility. None of those behaviors create the necessary change, only more separation. This sense of "separation" is absolutely responsible for the dysfunction that is our global family today.
What I am about to briefly write I've said in prior blogs (What yoga has taught me), but I feel compelled to repeat it here because I don't want this blog taken out of context. Self-investigation, personal healing and spiritual unification are the driving force of Off the Mat, Into the World. As an organization founded on the primary beliefs of yoga, we believe that we are one and that everything is interdependent on the whole. There is no separation. Everything is connected. This is the principle of yoga. We believe that everything that is happening out in the world—including war, terrorism, rape, oppression and poverty—happens because there is a sense of separation, an attitude that creates "otherness," a feeling of an "us" being against "them." Yoga informs us again and again that there is no separation. We are all connected, linked together by a cosmic heartbeat and an infinite breath. Separation is an illusion, but one that is creating unbearable pain and suffering among us as a result. Interdependency or interseparation is what can create either peace or war. Everything hurtful that is happening is a manifestation of our collective thoughts, behaviors and actions, and if we are deeply committed to changing what is in the world, then our first course of action is to change the places within us that are separate from each other, the planet we share and God. We must engage, for that is what will ultimately unite. It is easier to rage at the world and try to break our opposition than it is to see that what we judge exist within us as well. It serves no purpose to point a finger at someone else when the other three fingers will always point back at you. (Try it!)
Seane responds to the backlash from a previous blog post