“Do not make the mistake of thinking you are a powerless individual in a vast world. Know that you are armed with three great powers. You have the power of the body—the source of all action; the power of speech—the source of all expression; and the power of the mind—the source of all thought,” writes Tai Situ Rinpoche in The Way Ahead.
Effectively, whether we are aware of it or not, everything we think, say and do has an effect on everyone and everything else. This means that our thoughts and actions can lead to chaos and destruction as easily as they can to healing and friendship. It also means that we have enormous resources available to us at all times.
Our actions, obviously, have the most direct impact on others. The destructive results of believing that whatever we do has no bearing on anyone or anything else can be seen throughout our natural world. Every action we take, even the smallest and simplest of everyday choices, has a consequence. For instance, in southern Egypt we traveled by truck into the desert. From where the truck left us, we hiked far up a dry riverbed into silence and beauty and rubbish: piles of polystyrene and plastic dumped in the middle of nowhere. On an island in Greece, we found large bags of garbage washed ashore that had been tipped into the Mediterranean by passing boats. While in the exotic paradise of Sri Lanka, Deb was happily swimming in the beautiful Unawatuna Bay when human feces floated past her. Apart from polluting the land and water, such garbage and raw sewage is devastating to the surrounding plant, animal, and sea life.
“Nothing exists by itself; everything exists only in relationship,” says Marc Ian Barasch in Be The Change. “This leads to the realization that life is not just about my own pursuit of happiness or search for comfort, but the ego is always wanting gratification and this can lead to all sorts of problems. For instance, as we don’t like to scrub and scrape our cooking pots, we invented Teflon and nonstick pans. But now toxic perchlor fluoride from Teflon manufacturing can be found in the umbilical cord blood of 98% of newborns. Everything exists in relationship.”