October 21, 2018

Useful Dirty Work.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.


 Lately, a question has been gnawing at me.  I have a close friend who is studying your work and that of some similar authors.  She devotes so much time and money to these studies, yet I don’t observe that energy going anywhere… useful, for lack of a better word.   Anyway, I asked her if she ever considered that these studies worked as a kind of opiate, as perhaps religion did a hundred years ago, to take her mind OFF the world’s troubles.  To me, she represents a whole class of women with extra time and money, whose energy could lead to I-don’t-know-what!  I asked if she was doing anything that got her hands dirty.  She replied that indeed she was doing something lately.  She had set up a “pray for the world” shrine at a local bookstore, where people could write prayers for the world.  She picks them up weekly and brings them home, and does something productive with them.  I forget what she said she did with them.  I wondered to her if this could be a distraction, instead of actual good work of the hand-dirtying type.
She was open-minded, and suggested I write you.  My question to you is related to my friend, but specifically it’s about the country of India. There are so many people there, many of whom meditate and pray regularly. Yet India appears to be as stuck in, for example, materialistic pursuits and social hierarchies as the next country.  Devout, more affluent people in India have poor people starving very near their homes.  If the people from the cradle of enlightenment haven’t figured out how to reach over and pull their cousins out of the puddle, how can the whole world do it?  I await your answer with happy anticipation.


No doubt much of what you suggest is right. If more able-bodied humanitarians coupled their good intentions with good hand-dirtying work, then greater progress could be made on the world’s problems.  As a physician, I certainly understand the difference between wanting an injured or ill patient to get better and actually treating the patient. Both components are necessary. The difficulties facing our planet are so colossal, that I think we need to enlist everyone’s help according to their natural talents. If hunger and poverty is your issue, then do all you can. For others it might be human rights, sustainable energy, species annihilation, international warfare, child abuse, water contamination, HIV/AIDS, or animal abuse. Just because you can’t see how their efforts are helping, it doesn’t mean they aren’t.  I don’t believe we can spare the time nor energy to criticize anyone else who is selflessly doing what they can to help others and our world. Perhaps their cause is not your particular cause or your particular way of addressing it, but I think we need everyone with their unique abilities. Scientists should be encouraged to do research, artists should be encouraged to make music, poetry, and tell stories, scholars should be encouraged to study, synthesize and write, and the spiritually inclined should be encouraged to meditate, pray if that is what they do best. Even if none of these people are ladling soup to the homeless or digging a water well in a village, in my mind they are still doing essential work for the planet.

As for India, I’m afraid your quaint idea that everyone there spends their days meditating is grossly inaccurate. Meditation is certainly part of the proud heritage of India, but not that many there regularly practice daily meditation and fewer still do so correctly.  India is therefore not a good test case for the efficacy of meditation and prayer to solve socio-economic ills. While India is blessed to be the repository of invaluable ancient wisdom, unfortunately that knowledge is no longer properly interpreted, understood nor taught. India is currently in the midst of a massive economic transformation, and with that it is being forced to deal with many of the global problems listed above, including extreme poverty juxtaposed with affluence. I don’t believe it shows a real appreciation of the complexity of the problems involved, to suggest as you do, that if prayer and meditation were really useful things, then India of all places wouldn’t have these problems. Even when India’s spiritual knowledge is revived and disseminated in its accurate form, and everyone there does meditate properly, the country will still need teachers, artists, engineers, farmers, doctors and politicians to help address the nation’s and world’s problems from all the other angles.



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