This month, Ode Magazine interviewed Byron Katie, author of "Loving What is." Here's an excerpt that is pertinent to Siratal Mustaqim:
Some people feel empowered and feel a sense of well-being when they fight for what they think is right. Are they on the right path? Is their work giving them undue stress?
“I’ve heard people say that they cling to their painful thoughts because they’re afraid that without them they wouldn’t be activists for peace. ‘If I felt completely peaceful,’ they say, ‘why would I bother taking action at all?’ My answer is ‘Because that’s what love does.’ To think that we need sadness or outrage to motivate us to do what’s right is insane. As if the clearer and happier you get, the less kind you become. As if when someone finds freedom, she just sits around all day with drool running down her chin. My experience is the opposite. Love is action. It’s clear, it’s kind, it’s effortless, and it’s irresistible.
“If you have a problem with people or with the state of the world, I invite you to put your stressful thoughts on paper and question them, and to do it for the love of truth, not in order to save the world. Turn it around: Save your own world. Isn’t that why you want to save the world in the first place? So that you can be happy? Well, skip the middleman, and be happy from here! You’re it. You’re the one. In this turnaround you remain active, but there’s no fear in it, no internal war. So it ceases to be war trying to teach peace. War can’t teach peace. Only peace can.
“I don’t try to change the world—not ever. The world changes by itself, and I’m a part of that change. I’m absolutely, totally, a lover of what is. When people ask me for help, I say yes. We inquire, and they begin to end their suffering, and in that they begin to end the suffering of the world.
“I stand in my own truth and don’t presume to know what’s best for the planet. Knowing that the world is perfect doesn’t mean that you withdraw or stop doing what you know is right for you to do. If, for example, you’re concerned about the environment, please give us all the facts. Do a whole study of it, go to graduate school if you have to, help us out here. And if you talk to us clearly, without an agenda or any investment in the results, we can hear you, because you’re on our level. You’re not talking to us from a superior, I-know position. If you know that we’re all equal, that we’re all doing the best we can, you can be the most powerful activist on the planet.
“Love is the power. I know only one way to be an activist who can really penetrate the human race, and that is to give the facts, to tell your experience honestly, and to love without condition. You can’t convince the world of anything, even if it’s for the world’s own good, because eventually your righteousness will be seen through, and then you’re on a stage debating a corporate polluter, and you start pointing your finger in outrage. That’s what you’ve been hiding when you believe ‘I know what’s best for the planet.’
“When you attack a corporate official for destroying the atmosphere, however valid your information, do you think that he’ll be open to what you’re saying? You’re threatening him with your attitude, and the facts can get lost, because you’re coming from fear and righteous anger. All he’ll hear is that you think he’s doing it wrong, it’s his fault, and he’ll go into denial and resistance. But if you speak to him without stress, in total confidence that everything is just the way it should be in this very moment, you’ll be able to express yourself kindly, effectively, and with no fear about the future.
“Violence teaches only violence. Stress teaches stress. If you clean up your mental environment, we’ll clean up our physical one much more quickly. That’s how it works. And if you do that genuinely, without violence in your heart, without anger, without pointing at corporations as the enemy, then people begin to notice. We begin to listen and notice that change through peace is possible. It has to begin with one person. If you’re not the one, who is?”
~Excerpted from an interview with Byron Katie in Ode Magazine, March 2008