It must be remembered that we are free to acknowledge and surrender our feelings, and we are free not to surrender. As we examine our “I can’ts” and find out that they are really “I won’ts,” it doesn’t mean that we have to let go of the negative feelings that result in the “I won’ts.”
Lord Acton has said: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No, that is not right. Power never corrupts, it only brings corruption out. How can power corrupt?
Understanding and tolerance of other cultures is not a weakness, not a sign of inadequate patriotism, not an indication that we are rootless “citizens of nowhere.” In reality, it reflects our preparation for the world of tomorrow, where we will become ever more mixed as peoples, even as we study, value, and preserve our collective cultural heritage.
Enlightenment is not something that occurs in the future, after 50 years of sitting cross-legged and saying “OM.” It is right here, in this instant.
We all have a life, but we are not always aware of how precious it is. And we all have an ego, but we do not always take enough responsibility for it. Our sufferings, or our doomed attempts to avoid them, all too often keep us mired in obsessive attachment, greed, worry, or despair.
An aged Chinese monk, despairing at never having reached enlightenment, asks permission to go to an isolated cave to make one final attempt at realization. Taking his robes, his begging bowl, and a few possessions, he heads out on foot into the mountains.
A Sense of Meaning
One of the most inspirational people I have ever known is Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany in World War II. He was a scientist. He was terribly inquisitive and understood scientific methodology, and he wondered what enabled some of the prisoners who were subject to such terrible treatment in the death camps to survive. He studied the survivors and attempted to understand what enabled these people to survive, unlike the hundreds of thousands who perished. Was it their physical health? He found physical health to be secondary. Was it their survival skills? Secondary. Was it their intelligence? Secondary. He explored every alternative hypothesis. He finally concluded they were all secondary factors.