Leo Babuata’s recent blog post about reality came at a serendipitous moment when I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology“. It is often said that we create our own reality, but I think that those words are often misinterpreted. Those who are suffering from famine or abuse have not necessarily created that reality – everyone’s reality is also a combination of others’ reality. However, what Leo and Thay point out that it is what we consume that helps to create our reality.
We are a consumer culture, here in the West. Some of us are trying to bring more awareness to what we consume, whether that is in material goods, food, petrol or electricity consumption, etc. What Leo and Thay speak of however is what we are consuming with our soul, with our heart, with our brain, mainly through media but also in the form of speech, gossip, etc. Thay speaks eloquently about this matter, stating that a lot of what we visually consume from the media is toxic. We watch television shows that are violent, or that pit people against each other in dishonourable ways. We are influenced by advertising. We may speak ill or dishonestly of others, or about ourselves. When we are doing this, we are taking in a toxicity that affects our very being. We can stand up for ourselves, certainly, speaking out against injustice with honesty and awareness. It doesn’t mean we will never speak out. What it does mean is that we become engaged in our living, in our being, in a positive way that benefits the whole, not just the self.
Life is a choice, for the most part. We can choose to not take in this toxicity, or be a part of it. That is not to say that we shut ourselves off from what is happening in the world. We need to know of the suffering that is occurring in the world in order to help alleviate it. But we can say no to violence as entertainment, to disrespect someone in order to “pass the time”. Everyone knows the saying “You are what you eat”. Let’s open this out to everything else that we consume. We can choose to be a part of this world, aware of what is happening, without taking in the vast amounts of toxic images and words; it is within our power.
Be aware of the world. Know that people are suffering from a horrific tragedy in Kenya. Know that people are suffering in your own hometown. Know too that you can choose to not play violent video games, or watch gory movies, to intake that violence into your consciousness. You can fill your heart with peace and loving kindness – it is your choice. You don’t have to read that magazine with photoshopped men and women. You don’t have to comment negatively on someone’s Facebook status. You don’t have to gossip about someone, or read about it in the latest trashy mag. You choose what you put out there into the world.
When we fill ourselves with positive things instead of toxic things, we can hopefully make this world a better place. What are your thoughts?