It’s easy when we talk about change, leadership, impact or influence to miss the single only thing worth looking at.
This verse from the Diamond Sutras, the world’s oldest printed book, tells us, through a conversation between the Buddha and his disciple Subhuti, what that thing is…
“Subhuti, if there were as many Ganges rivers as the number of grains of sand in the Ganges, would you say that the number of grains of sand in all those Ganges rivers would be very many?”
Subhuti answered, “Very many indeed, Most Honored One. If the number of Ganges rivers were that large, how much more so would be the number of grains of sand in all those Ganges rivers.”
“Subhuti, I will declare a truth to you. If a good man or a good woman filled over ten thousand galaxies of worlds with the seven treasures for each grain of sand in all those Ganges rivers, and gave it all away for the purpose of compassion, charity and giving alms, would this man or woman not gain great merit and spread much happiness?”
Subhuti replied, “Very much so, Most Honored One.”
“Subhuti, if after studying and observing even a single stanza of this Sutra, another person were to explain it to others, the happiness and merit that would result from this virtuous act would be far greater.”
In other words, no matter how enormous the effort, reach and intention, the result will always be less than the smallest effort from someone who embodies the wholeness of existence.
And this is missed.
It is missed because our focus is trained to be on the story – enormity of the effort, the scale of the reach, the number of followers, the money earned, the power achieved, the hierarchy charted, the waiting list, the size of the generosity, the numbers of sales and votes…
Which is why almost all leadership books and courses dive straight into improving influencing skills without a second’s mention of the belief system, integrity, sanity of the leader. Which is ridiculous when Hitler and many other leaders have shown the danger of impact, influence and power from unquestioned beliefs, identification and separation.
And why no books on time management, morning routines, productivity, physical fitness, social media reach begin and end with the question ‘who are you?’
We plunge into the form and the results…
…not realising that they are the absolute last things to focus on…
…not realising that the form and the results are only ever creations of our own perception…
…not realising that trying to change a world that is only ever a mirror of our own conditioning is at best futile.
So where do we begin?
There is only one place to begin.
We take whatever it is out there in the world we want to change.
And we consider how our own thoughts, beliefs, words and actions are identical to what we are trying to eradicate.
That is the only place to start.
Without that first step, we go out into the world fighting a mirror,
Without ‘bringing it in here’ before all else, we lead people into a battle of which the only purpose is distraction from our own fears, shame and insecurity.
Without first seeing that the world exists within us, that it is a projection of our own conditioning, all we do is replicate over and over again whatever it is we are not yet ready to acknowledge.
The world exists in us.
That is the source. That is the origin of everything.
That is the verse to which the Buddha was referring.
That is the only place to start.
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