“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent,
are the fine but fruitless words
of those who do not act accordingly.
But like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent,
are the fine and fruitful words
of those who do act accordingly.
from FLOWERS, the Buddha
We are encouraged in our faith walks and recovery programs to “walk the talk”. Scriptures and rhetoric flow easily off the tongues of many religious and political leaders only to be sadly contradicted by actions which betray their words. From the pulpits and the podiums flow endless streams of righteousness and exhortation but their eloquence produces no discernible spiritual fruit.
In these tumultuous times of hatred and vitriol spewing forth from politicians, clergy, and fellow citizens, many of us find our spiritual foundations rocked with a gut-wrenching desire to join in the melee of harshness and discord. In a heartbeat, in a moment of anger, I can become as evil and slanderous as the worst of the worst seen in the newspapers or on the viewing screens. In a fit of righteousness I can charge, judge, and condemn the most vocal offenders of my life’s philosophy. I deem myself omnipotent. It is then that I immediately become a part of the problem and not a promoter of the solution.
Talk is cheap. However, walking the talk is a never-ending endeavor which separates men from boys, wise from foolish, sheep from goats. The Buddha attained nirvana following a path of selflessness and principled living. Jesus and his disciples established a kingdom on earth led by the principles of “the Way.” Gandhi won liberation for his people through non-violent dissent. Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted non-violent protest as the vehicle to attain civil rights for African-Americans. They all walked their talk. Each of them was a peacemaker.
That also is my challenge in this life. I shall probably never attain greatness or recognition, but I can always strive to lace my thoughts, speech, and actions with mindfulness and compassion. I want the flowers of my life to be sweetly scented and fruitful. Engaging in and wallowing in hatefulness and vitriol is not an option. Filling my head with the latest scandal from media talking heads does not encourage enlightenment. Ancient wisdom teaches that what blossoms in the mind is who we are as a humanity. Fruit or thorns? Peace or strife? Compassion or oppression? It truly begins within each of us.