It is often incorrectly assumed that the mere act of thinking about a things negative aspects makes negative energy emerge in your reality. If it were true, that what we think becomes reality, then many of us would have exactly what we want all the time. Think it and it will appear. While it is true that our thoughts impact our surroundings, it is acting upon those thoughts that create the environment.
Across the internet, there are articles espousing the effects of positive thinking on the realization of ones dreams. The thesis being your dreams will come true if you assuage self doubt. Self doubt being one of many names given to why the thing in your life isn’t happening. Why your true talent is not on display and getting paid. But most of our heroes and heroines did not receive the accolades they deserved during their life, only posthumously. Even the poverty they contended with is romanticized as a type of alternative lifestyle, rather than a symptom of a wealth-centered social ideology.
According to Nichiren Daishonin, “from the single element of mind springs all the various lands and environmental conditions”. This expresses the Buddhist principle of “three thousand realms in a single moment.” This hinges on the idea that what is in a person’s heart and mind impacts their environment. Therefore, the hearts and minds of persons in a community greatly affect the community at large. Now, this is not done through osmosis but carried out in our actions, both micro and macro. It is in what we think of ourselves and how we perceive others. By definition, according to Social Psychology, social neuroscience is the study of how our social behavior both influences and is influenced by the activities of our brain (Lieberman, 2010) and social influence is the process through which other people change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and through which we change theirs. If we live in an environment of ongoing aggressions we may find it difficult to fight against them. Even the notion of fighting against them plays into The cultural affect of control. We do not have control over other individuals. We only have control over ourselves, therefore it is of most importance to cultivate a self perception that does not harm. We can then use this strong sense of self to advocate for the happiness of others.
It is important to be aware of cultures and cultural differences, at least in part because people with different cultural backgrounds are increasingly coming into contact with each other as a result of increased travel and immigration, and the development of the Internet and other forms of communication.
-Principles of Social Psychology, 1st Edition
It may be one of the most difficult things to do but having genuine dialogue with others creates an opportunity to alter perception. It is not necessary to be invested in the other persons change, rather the goal should be to offer another way of thinking. This new way of thinking can lead to new actions or better decisions that ultimately continue this cycle to cause no harm.
When we engage in conversation about difficult subjects, we tend towards pushing our position onto others. We want their acceptance of what we say whether or not we even realize if it is necessary. People change their points as it suits the argument, shading each angle to lean towards their desired outcome. This is why it is imperative to understand why you are having the discussion in the first place. The purpose is not to force someone to believe as you do. The purpose is to discover who they are.
During these tumultuous times we should use discernment when considering dialogue with our neighbors. One thing a Buddha must be aware of is a person’s capacity to understand and receive information. It is a wonderful thing to have wisdom and share it but if the audience is not ready to receive the information the message is lost and the lesson is not learned. This is also true for how wisdom is imparted. It is just as important to correctly deliver information as it is to have the information to deliver.
And there is a difference between sharing knowledge and sharing wisdom. Knowledge is information, facts, and data, statistics that soundly describe and define specific aspects of our society and how they function. Wisdom, on the other hand, involves more listening than speaking. And when the opportunity arises to speak, only the most necessary information should be conveyed. There is a point the other person is probably attempting to make and instead of silencing them with an espousal of all you know, tread upon the verbal and physical language they use. Employ your best self and hear them out. Be cooperative. It’s not for you to take on their feelings. Many people will express their hearts through anger and resentment. This is due to the lack of control felt in our lives. Exerting anger on another person relinquishes it of true atonement. The illusions of this world can dissipate under the guidance of a compassionate heart.
Neighbors are competitors instead of partners, suspicious instead of trustful, indifferent instead of helpful, cold instead of loving, greedy instead of generous. We no longer consider ourselves living in neighborhoods, but only as living next to ‘hoods.’