Expectations: How I Shoot Myself in the Foot
In the days preceding the martyrdom of the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, a man by the name of Manuchihr Khan, the governor of the province of Fars in Iran, accepted the Bab and His revelation. He had a powerful army and great influence in the country at that time and was so taken by the Bab and His message, that he asked the Bab if the Bab wouldn’t allow him to use all of his money, his influence, and army to first convince the Shah and then all of the governments of the world of the truth of the Bab’s message. The Bab was so moved by his offer that He told the governor that his lofty purpose was more precious to Him than doing the act itself. He then went on to say that it was not by the mighty and powerful that God would spread His cause, but by the efforts and sacrifices of the poor and lowly.
This is a story that I have read on numerous occasions, that always astounds me, but never seems to sink in very far. I mean that I can read it again and again, be moved by it, but then keep having the expectation that the wealthy, the powerful, and the leaders are the ones who will change the world. What seems to happen inside is that I see the enormity of the transformation required to achieve something like the equality of men and women or equity in terms of distribution of resources, and then I look at my own puny self with its frailties and weaknesses, and then end up with the belief that no amount of effort on my part could ever do much for the way the world is now.
Baha’u’llah says, “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded? “
So it seems like the challenge that I have is to attend to the belief that within me the universe is unfolded, rather than believing that I am puny in comparison to the rich and powerful of the current world. I read an interview with Carlos Santana, the famous rock star, this morning on the internet, and he said that if we were to invest in helping people to get involved in service, that they would find that drug use was no longer necessary because the high that one gets from being involved in helping others is much greater than the most powerful narcotic.
What I seem to forget is that the rich and powerful are more often than not largely interested in maintaining the world as it is because that is how they were able to accumulate so much. So then, after I have forgotten the fact that most of the top would like to maintain the process that got them to the top, I think that if I enlist their support, then change will happen. Whatever plans that I have always fail, notsurprisingly, and then I quit what I want to do. It is pretty depressing. Kind of like hitting a brick wall really hard and then forgetting that you have already hit the brick wall a dozen times so I do it again.
So today I am deciding to replace my brick wall strategy and replace it with something new. I think the new formula best works like this.
1. Have a vision of the world with the new change, e.g. equality between the sexes.
2. Believe that God has created me with a huge capacity to do positive things in the world.
3. Act repeatedly with a lot of positive efforts to realize the goals.
4. Remember that, for the most part, the people who have greatly benefited by the way things are in the world do not want it to change it.