Yesterday, I was explaining the way the Buddha’s message about the possibility of being engaged in the world, challenging as it inevitably is, without being overwhelmed by it. I was specifically quoting the Buddha’s message to monks he had trained who were venturing into the larger world to spread those teaching of liberation. What he said, in contemporary language is, “Go forth and teach this important understanding in the idiom of the people.” That message, “Teach so that you can be understood so that what you say is helpful,” is endlessly inspiring to me. I used the image we find in the back of airline in-flight magazines where all the routes of that particular carrier are arcs branching out from a central hub. I was saying that, in the time of the Buddha, teaching monks traveled by foot so that it took centuries for the Buddha’s philosophy to spread from India across China and Tibet to the China Sea. In my mind’s eye, I see images of little monks walking those arcs across Asia and then rowing across to Japan in little boats.
These days, I see these same arcs in my mind as I write this blog, or sign a petition that someone has offered up for support. I’m thrilled by the idea that a good cause, a good new idea, can spread over the whole world in a day. Late last night I decided to start a petition on Change.org and I realized, as I wrote it, that the very decision to start to do something that I believed would be helpful, one particular way to reduce suffering in the world, made me feel better even before I was done with the writing. I felt empowered. Here is the link to the petition I wrote. I hope you’ll open it right now and sign it and send it to everyone on your list. It is about our political system, but it is not partisan. You can send it to everyone. I hope you will feel engaged, part of an arc of a good idea being spread out along lanes of friends.