They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself. We all know the classic scenes from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice. But it goes on walking. Ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street – Hey, look down! We are awakening from a dream. When the Buddha was asked to describe his experience of awakening he said, “What I have awoken to is deep, quiet and excellent. But,” he continues, “People love their place. It’s hard for people who love, delight and revel in the fixed views and places of absolute certainty, to see interdependence.” - Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek’s rousing speech at Occupy Wall Street protest
Remaining Human: A Budhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street is an inspiring article written by Michael Stone (Centre of Gravity).
Stone’s message is an important one. As a student of the dharma, one learns to cultivate the middle way, and part of that is casting a discerning, questioning eye over one’s own views, intentions and actions. It is easy to let passions run amok and cloud vision and judgement. As the Buddha once said, “what you think you become”. Unchecked anger becomes violent action and is met with anger and violent resistance. We’ve seen in the past how the important issues which protesters seek to bring to light can get over-shadowed by unchecked passions and unskilful actions. As we all know, the media/news loves drama, and what could be more dramatic than a protest which erupts into violence. If this happens politicians will seize upon the opportunity provided by the unruly mob to shift attention from the important issues which people are trying to raise through their right to peaceful protest, and the core message will be lost in a media feeding frenzy of sensationalism and spin.
That is not to say that passions should be suppressed. More skilfully guided, and creatively employed. Occupy Wall Street, and other recent inspired expressions of the people’s voice (Cairo, Egypt. Where the people refused to pushed to violence. Patience, peace and unity won the day) have been victories for just such an approach. Keeping the right attitude is so important. Just as unchecked anger will spread and multiply, so too will a balanced and peaceful, skilful, determined and creative attitude. Through these means the people will begin to awaken from the dream to the reality of the situation. As Stone writes in his piece, Enlightenment is not personal; it’s collective. There is the tale of the rampaging elephant who is subdued by the Buddha’s unwavering light of peace and compassion. This truth will spread. Through unity and solidarity these skilful means can have the most potent effect, and once the ball starts rolling along the right path, momentum will build and no obstruction will stop its progress.