The Ripple Effect…
“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” Dalai Lama
Oftentimes in life we walk around like zombies or do things out of habit with not much awareness and little thought of the consequences. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: “For every action, there’s an equal or opposite re-action.” So what does this metaphor mean and how much of an impact does this have on our lives and others’? In today’s blog we’ll explore the effects of our actions, thoughts and efforts and how they ripple outwards into the world…
The science behind the ripple effect
Everything we do in life bears a consequence, either positive or negative. Every choice we make from something as simple as deciding to exercise in the morning or smile at the stranger on the bus impacts our lives. Philosophers and scientists have been theorizing about the mysteries of the Universe since the 1600’s. Galileo and Descartes came up with their ideas to explain cause and effect, paving the way for Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation. At the time, the mathematical equations were so powerful that scientists came to believe that everything in the Universe could be determined and calculated simply by applying the math – determinism. Quantum mechanics then started to take the spotlight and in the 1920’s, Einstein came up with the Unified Field Theory. In the 60’s meteorologist Edward Lorenz then coined the term “Butterfly effect” (Part of Chaos Theory) in which he determines that it was virtually impossible to forecast long term weather predictions as nature is far too complex and minute variables can have far reaching interconnected consequences. In a nutshell, all these theories and mathematical equations are attempting to explain how matter/particles interact with each other and gravity/electromagnetism and time on a subatomic level. When you go down far enough, beyond particles or matter, there is only energy, and since everything is energy, how are you directing YOURS and what impact does it have on your life and in the world?…
You are not powerless
In this day and age we are closely connected to each other through our access to information, travel, advances in technology and the sharing of ideas. We live in a global village, we share global problems like pollution, poverty and corruption, but we somehow feel that most of things are out of our hands and we can’t really do much to create positive changes, we get despondent. But we can, just by starting with ourselves, not getting caught up in the complexity of it all, simply doing your bit. Think about the past, historical events that have taken place, how changes in society have come about, they didn’t happen overnight. They were created by the ripple effect, actions of the few that have influenced the many, over time. As individuals we certainly do have the power to make a
difference and instead of pointing fingers, blaming and wasting time on what other people are doing, we can all think, what am I doing, daily. As they say – Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Life is not easy, nor is it meant to be, there is much suffering and pain. But in between the difficulties and challenges of life, there is also joy, happiness, kindness and compassion. It is in our human nature to help others when we see they are in distress. Scientific research shows that helping others brings happiness to yourself, acts of kindness releases those feel good hormones, a phenomenon known as helpers high. The power of the kindness-ripple effect has the ability to change our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Research has shown that practicing meditation increases our empathy and compassion for others. It changes one’s perspective, shifting away from the me and mine Self, allowing the mind and heart to open to others. Compassion is not just a passive practice/word, it is a verb, requiring action, a response.
In Buddhist teachings, there is a Sanskrit term for a being who is headed for enlightenment and encompasses the qualities of compassion and altruism (unselfish concern for the welfare of others): Bodhisattva. We may not be able to liberate ALL beings from pain and suffering but we can work on ourselves and find ways to help others along the way, especially within our own communities. We can become a Bodhisattva-in-Training, following a path that is more meaningful and fulfilling. Samahita has always been involved in supporting organizations and charities, being as sustainable as we can be, doing our bit to make a difference. So where to begin? It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be on social media, just start. Begin today, with a small gesture, a kind word, a smile… A smile that can ripple out into the world!
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